Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When you lose what you were

All of us over 50 have been there and many people under 50 have already faced this, and that's the reality we can't be and won't be who we were, healthy and fit, ready to do anything we're physically capable. The mental health changes when we discover our bodies don't work as well anymore and won't do what we did before.

Nothing new or news there, just the reality of getting older, and for many, getting sick or injured for life. This recent bout of problems (digestive system infection, or some professionals think but not the specialists) caused me to stop running and hiking. The better, or is it the worse, part of two years I won't get back. I miss running and while I can resume running, it will be with a different perspective.

I now know why I run out of breath quickly past any point of physical exertion. I can recover to some degree, but the body just can't do what it did. And although this problem is nearly 20 years old, I just slowed down or walked until I could breath again and continued running. I kinda' knew this when the walks were longer, I just ignored the reality. Now I know the reality.

So I've gone back to walking, 5-6 miles for starts to the local commercial center near where I live. It has a lot of places including several cafes to get a reward of a coffee drink before buying carryable stuff and walking back. Once I get my legs back under me I'll resume the weight training which I stopped because first I realized I reached my maximum muscle development and second the problems made me too tired to even try.

I read where we're born with the genes which controls our muscles more than previously thought. That's common sense, but having almost all slow-twitch muscles, not the fast-twitch muscles necessary to develop muscles, I read that our genes also determine the maximum muscle we can develop (meaning more strength training doesn't produce more muscle, just more exercise), I simply couldn't get stronger and won't get stronger than I was. I can get back there to some degree, just not any better.

And that's my lot in life now past 60. Not fun but I can't complain. I do and will still complain but it's really meaningless and useless except to waste energy. But now I can simply walk it off while my physician and the specialist argue about the cause of the problems and find a treatment, if one exists. It's the old adage, "It sucks getting old."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Heart is a Heart

A heart is a heart. Or not. All of us have a different heart, physically and figuratively. Well, last Friday I had a second echo sound of my heatt, the first in July 2005, and a radionuclide rest and stress test. Since the early 90's whenever I run or hike I get short of breath very soon into the exercise and my heart rate goes from normal to over 180.

I usually have to stop for 1-2 minutes so my heart can slow down to exercise rate and I can catch my breath. And I often have to do this again during the exercise or hike if it's an exertion, usually a hill. This has been my normal pattern since my mid-40's. Well, I didn't get it tested and the doctors didn't see to get me tested. Until now.

And low and behold I have a 20% blockage of my pulmonary artery which worsens with exertion. The surrounding arteries help during the stressed periods but they reach a limit where my heart just can't pump any more blood into the lungs, which are fine, willing and waiting with lots of air. It's just the blood can't get there.

So, with that I will be (when I get the prescription filled) on an agressive dosage of statin and the health supplement CoQ10 for a few months to get my cholesterol down where the body will absorb some of the blockage and increase the blood flow. Or not and it will be what I will live with for the rest of my life, like it's already has been since it started.

Fortunately the heart itself is fine and health with a small murmur from Rheumatic Fever at age three where there is a small area of damage to one valve, but nothing significant anymore. There are no blockages of the arteries on the heart and the heart muscle is sound and strong. That's cool to know.

Five years ago they discovered my heart has an "extra" connection to the brain which quickens the heart rate faster and higher than normal. It can increase from normal to 180+ beats per second in a few seconds, like a breath or two. They saw this on the 24-hour monitor during my exercise workout. They think the heart is correcting for the lack of oxygen with more blood flow, except it simply can't with the blockage.

So, that's my future, lower my cholesterol, which will be difficult if not impossible as my cholesterol level has never been normal, always above. But I have a high (good) HDL count which keeps a lot of stuff in suspension in the blood, but that's also high and needs to come down. I need to get the body to rid itself of most of the floatsom in of the blood.

In the end, the best we can do is keep things from getting worse and work to get it better a little at a time, with lots of hard work, meaning drugs, diet, exercise, and whatever else. And then keep track of this small abnormality so it doesn't spread to my heart or other places herein my body. Like I want that to happen.

So a heart is a heart, and is my heart. Now and until it decides differently. And the best I can do is help it.