Health update . . .

You want to know something?  If it weren’t for the migraines and arthritis, I’d probably live forever with this body.

That’s only partially a joke.

Today I had my annual physical at the VA health clinic I’ve been going to for nearly 10 years.  They drew a fasting blood lab first, and then I went to see my primary care doctor.  He got the results of the blood work while we were talking.

EVERYTHING – Yes, everything, was within “normal limits” except for my cholesterol numbers, which have been elevated since the first time I was ever tested.

When the team nurse tested my blood pressure, she had to do it twice.  The first time it was 128/94 – which I would have accepted.  But, she said she got distracted talking to another nurse, and she and I had discussed the logistics of the VA moving the clinic to another town (which is supposed to happen late next year), so she wanted to do it again.  The second test was 120/87.

Keep in mind – I’m now 54 years old, and take no medication for blood pressure control.

But, when I saw the doctor, he didn’t like the numbers because he said the second one was too high.  So, he tested it himself.

And the numbers HE got were 110/80.

For the first time since he met me, he didn’t even bother asking me to take medicine for my cholesterol.  When he pulled up the blood test results, he did say that it was still high, but when my wife asked him how it compared with last year he acknowledged that the LDL was down 50 points from last year.  So he just told me to keep doing what I’ve been doing, and dropped it.

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Interesting surprise . . .

When my wife goes out grocery shopping on the weekends, she frequently includes a visit to one (or several) thrift stores.  Especially one called “The Doggie Bag” which supports the local Humane Society with the profits they make.

On a recent visit she picked up a pair of black denim shorts for me.  When she got home with them, I tried them on.  They were VERY tight, but she assured me that the tag the store had put on them said the waist was 36″.  The good news was that I did manage to get them on, fastened, and zipped.  The bad news was that I stood there debating for several minutes about whether or not I would want to wear them for a whole day.

When she noticed that the shorts had pleats in the front, that was the death blow.  I don’t like pleats, because they exaggerate my already large middle area. So, I took them off and she agreed to return them.  But, as she was folding them back up, she took a look at the manufacturer’s tag inside – which said “waist size 34”.

It was a good surprise.  Keep in mind that less than 2 years ago I was wearing 38″ pants, and they were getting tight as my actual weight climbed over 245 lbs.  Now, thanks to my finding and (most of the time) following the Paleo Diet, I’m under 200, putting on some muscle, and for 3 minutes I was wearing 34″ shorts.

This is getting interesting.

On another note: you know the weather has your number when the OVERNIGHT LOW for your area has a heat index number attached to it.

Lying Electronics – solution . . .

Alright, I figured out what happened with the bathroom scale, but to share it I have to explain something that some of you will quickly relate to.

It has to do with cats – and their toys.  When we first accepted the two cats who conquered our home, we tried to entertain them with toys we purchased from a local pet store.  They didn’t like those – and preferred to play with things we would normally have called “trash”.

One such thing that has been a source of endless fascination to the male (Merlin) is the purple rings that came off of mayonnaise jars (before we stopped buying it).  We still have about a dozen of them around, and every few days he’ll discover one and spend 10 or 15 minutes chasing it around the kitchen floor.  About once a month we’ll clean out under the refrigerator or freezer, and find half of them stuck under there with the dust bunnies.

Anyhow, because it is about the only solid floor in the house, the kitchen floor is also where we keep the bathroom scale.  After I posted yesterday’s blog, it occurred to me that I needed to look at the battery for the scale, because I couldn’t remember what type of battery it needed.

When I picked up the scale, I saw a purple ring that had been hiding under the LED display.

If you’re already laughing – so did I.  I scooted the ring out of the way, and put the scale back on the floor.  When I stepped on it again, it registered the much more believable number of 198.

Lying electronics . . .

Alright, I suppose anything is possible, but this is highly unlikely.

I try to avoid being obsessive about the numbers on the bathroom scale, but I do step on it every now and then to monitor my results.  I’ve now been on the Paleo diet for over a year and a half, and I have confirmed that my weight has dropped from 248 to 190.  I was quite happy with that, and not even distressed when it went back up to 196 – because I got a weight bench and started doing bench presses and leg curls a few times a week.  I took the increase as an indication that I was toning up muscle, which weighs more than blubber.

But I am having a lot of trouble believing what I saw on the scale this morning.  So much trouble believing it, that I stepped off the scale, let the LED display clear, and tried it again.  With the same results.  Exactly.

So, the number I didn’t want to believe?  165.0 pounds.  One hundred and sixty-five pounds.  I haven’t been that light since 1984.  It CAN’T be right.

I’m going to get a new battery.  Or maybe a new scale.

Walt Whitman’s health advice rediscovered . . .

US Poet Wat Whitman wasn’t always a successful poet.  During the years before he became successful, he wrote a series on health tips under a pseudonym, and that series (originally published in 1858) was recently rediscovered in a digitized library archive.  You can learn more here:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36177820

(For what it is worth – Whitman would have probably endorsed the PALEO diet!)

 

Well, I think it is about time . . .

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog about my frustration at my primary care doc at the VA trying to push me onto statin drugs for my cholesterol.  In her comment on the blog, my good friend Anita pointed at the Mark’s Daily Apple website ( marksdailyapple.com ) and said it is her Paleo Diet guru.  I’m also on the Paleo Diet, but hadn’t seen this site, so I went to take a look.

My chief frustration with the site (at least at first glance) is that it is typical of sites that specialize in fitness – they don’t have anything to say that doesn’t include a fair amount of healthy exercise.  If I want to use his program, I need to be able to follow the program.  But, after a bone tumor in my left femur in 1980, the femur can’t handle that sort of activity.  The permanent limitations I was given back then included: No walking over 1 mile per day TOTAL, No jumping of any kind (like parachute jumps), No pushing pulling or lifting over 30 pounds.

Every time I have ever exceeded those limits, there has been a price to pay.  Stress fractures around the site where the bone tumor was have ensured that a week on crutches each time was the minimum price I’ve paid.  I actually have a pair of aluminum ones in a closet that I’ve used for years.

But – I had an idea today.  My doc asked me on that last visit if I’d thought about getting a hip replacement.  I half laughed and said I might get it someday, but when I do we’d have to replace the whole femur because of the bone tumor that caused all this trouble.

It may be time to do that.

Why?  Because I’m actually only 53 years along.  If I do get a hip/femur replacement, I would have to do physical therapy, and then I’d be free – FREE – to start exercising in earnest again.  Keep in mind – before the tumor I was a candidate for the US Army’s Special Forces training.  A hip replacement before this summer could mean that I’m able to start training for a half-marathon by the time I’m 55.  I can almost get excited just thinking about it.  If I also get the migraine headaches under control, I might even be able to go back to work, part-time at least.

It is something tempting to think about.  Especially since I just had a short phone call with the Veteran’s Choice program, and they are setting me up with an appointment for a primary care doctor HERE IN TOWN.

Annual Physical . . .

Yesterday was my annual physical at the VA.  I have a few very interesting updates relating to that.

#1.)  The doctor was suitably impressed with my weight loss.  We’ve been trying for over 5 years to get my weight under control, but last year when I got my annual physical I weighed in at 237 pounds, and at the hospital in Fayetteville a few months earlier I had hit the magic number of 248.  He asked me last year what I had done to drop 11 pounds, and I told him about my starting the Paleo Diet.

Well, yesterday I weighed 199.3 – with my 6 pound tennis shoes on.  The weights I record in my progress notes other times I’ve blogged about my Paleo progress have been on my home scale without the shoes.  So, my actual weight is closer to 193.

#2.)  The neurologist I was seeing in Fayetteville told me it was alright to take Excedrin with the Imitrex when I need extra help with a migraine – but he didn’t tell me that he put it in my treatment records that he feels PART of my problem is my irregular sleep pattern.  I wish knowing that could help, but it actually doesn’t.  The migraines are part of the CAUSE of the irregular sleep pattern.  I can’t figure out which magic wand to waive to suddenly start getting a solid 8 hours at a time every day.

#3.)  I had a rather humorous exchange with the doctor about my arthritis.  I was limping rather seriously while I was there – a combination of extreme cold and impending foul weather made my left hip and knee irritated.  He saw it, and asked if I wanted him to prescribe a cane.  I laughed – and told him that I have 5 canes at home that I can’t use anymore. When he asked why, I had to remind him that I have arthritis AND bursitis in my left shoulder now.  When the hip and knee are acting up, so is my shoulder.  He laughed at himself briefly and admitted that I was right.

At that point, he inflamed another concern – by asking me if I was ready to start thinking about hip replacement surgery.  I’ve been holding my breath, metaphorically, expecting this conversation to begin sometime.  I have thought it through pretty thoroughly, I think.  I told him that the door is certainly open on that discussion, but I’m not ready to face it just yet.  Then I reminded him that the REASON I have arthritis in my hip is that I had a bone tumor near that hip in the femur, and if we did a hip replacement we’d have to replace the whole femur with it.  He thought about it a few seconds and agreed.  I’m not ready to face a surgery that huge just yet.  I’m not sure I ever will be, but I know I don’t want it right now.

#4.)  My blood pressure continues to confound establishment medical professionals.  The basic rule of thumb, that I was told in 1981 when I was a US Army Medic learning to perform annual physicals, is that the top number should be the patient’s age plus 100 (or less).  That rule of thumb would make anything below 154 on my BP acceptable.  What confounds the doctors is that I’m 53 years old, and my BP is a raw 120/82 without any medication.

New year – new goals . . .

Welcome to my first blog written within the year 2016. Oh, I know – someone is going to point out that I’ve already POSTED a blog in 2016. You’re right – but I wrote it before Christmas.

Anyhow, I thought I’d start this year off by setting out the goals we’re looking at for our home improvement projects and personal lives.

First, the big one. After seeing some wonderful success with the double-pane replacement windows we’ve had installed around our home, we’re now looking at a different source of temperature offensiveness. It’s that black roof we had put on right before we closed on the house. Rather than go to the incredible expense of having another roof put on so soon, we did some digging and discovered a type of “paint” that can be applied to roofing shingles to help shut the heat out. The price seems quite reasonable – if it holds up to expectations we can do the whole roof for about $100 worth of the paint plus the cost of the labor for getting someone to apply it, which our guttering guys have already agreed to do. I think they are looking at it as a possible third income stream for them (since most of their work is seasonal).

Also, my weight continues to drop in a slow, steady, hopefully healthy way. When I stepped on the scales to weigh about a week ago, I was looking at 198.8 – yes, I did check the battery (lol) – putting my total weight lost at precisely 50 pounds over the course of one year. I’m good with that.

We’re planning to do the roof painting with money from our annual income tax refund, which leads to item number three on our plan. Any money left over will be used to pay down our credit cards, which have been used over the last year for everything from rental cars to an upright deep freezer and a PS4.

Well, I think that’s enough to get the year rolling. Today is my wife’s first day back to work for the year, and I’m sure the same is true for many of you. Drive carefully, have a great day, and I hope your 2016 goes as swimmingly as you wish it to!

Yesterday’s blog – part 2

AFTER I had already posted my blog yesterday, I was reminded by my wife that she was taking yesterday and today off, due to Fall Break at the university she works for.  This results in a 4 day weekend for her.

We had already planned over a week ago that we were going to do some furniture re-arranging during that break, so my dumping tons of consecutive hours into a TV series marathon wasn’t such a wonderful idea.

Well, yesterday we got most of the rearranging completed – and I completed it after my wife went to bed.  With a caveat, of course.

Don’t ever try to move furniture with low blood sugar.  Bad things can happen.  I’m just extra-ordinarily fortunate that last night it didn’t involve anything that isn’t replaceable.  But I did manage to break the glass case cover that protected my Official Star Trek 3D Chess Set for the last 17 years.

Synchronicity and best-laid plans . . .

About a week ago, I decided (or admitted) that I was probably drinking too much coffee, because it has been months since I have been able to sleep for 8 hours in one stretch.  Perhaps years, I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that lately I’ve been on a cycle that goes something like this:  up for 12-14 hours, down for 2-3, then up for another 10-12. Rinse and repeat a few times, until exhaustion gets so extreme that you collapse in a restless mess for 12 hours, and wake up with a migraine.  Yes, that does figure into a cycle that is longer than a standard 24 hour day – hence a totally unpredictable schedule.

However, trying to do something about it has proved to be more of a challenge than I had hoped, due to some outside circumstances caused by Swap-a-DVD.com.

You see, most of the discs traded on Swap-a-DVD are used, so nobody in their right mind would order one and claim receipt of it on the site without first watching the DVD to be sure it isn’t horribly scratched/cracked.  Basic common sense, right?

So, just when I’ve decided to cut back on my caffeine intake, Swap-a-DVD notifies me of not one but 2 titles that I have on my wish-list that are now available, and I have enough credit on account to get them both.  One problem – they aren’t individual movies – they are full seasons of a TV series.  2 full seasons, consecutive – or almost 50 episodes, at 45 minutes (average) per episode, and they all came in at once.

Well, I got through the earliest season last night (well, early this morning, around 1 am my time).  I’m going to rest for a while, and probably start the next season tonight after my wife goes to sleep.

But, I’m promising myself that I’m absolutely cutting the caffeine starting next week.  *grin*

Oh, and one other update – it has been over 5 years since I last took off my wedding ring – afraid that I wouldn’t be able to wear it if my weight continued to increase (which it did).  Well, I now have it back on, and if anything it is almost loose!  This paleo diet may not be for everyone, but it IS working for me.