Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Auspicious Start

Well, so far since turning 63 around last Labor Day weekend, it's been and oddly auspicious start to this  year, but in ways both good and bad. It didn't start out good, in fact badly with a bladder infection which evolved into Protratitis, an infection of the prostrate. Yeah, real fun.

Anyway, two weeks later, all was well with the world again and the lesson was learned to always wash all fresh vegetables thoroughly. Over the next few months I slowly worked with the drugs I was taking for another issue and discovered by November the two drugs, but one specifically, has been part of the digestive problems.

Ok, stop taking the one and lower the dosage of the other and most of the problems went away. Only most since the other half of the digestive problem is food itself, meaning my system is very food sensitive and finally finding a gastroenterologist who actually had useful information to help, the problems lessened dramatically.

What it left me with is a short list of foods I can eat which don't cause problem and time where I can have food experiment days to try old foods, in moderation of course, and new foods, in sample sizes, and judge from the results with my body.

That list makes shopping hard and eating harder most days as it excludes wheat and most grains, most common vegetables, especially all leafy or green ones, most common fruits, all artificial sugar/sweetner,  etc. Just Google "fodmaps" and you'll see. You can see what it eliminates at the grocery store, cafes, etc.

Anyway, by January it's helped a lot where I've been walking 5-6 miles 4-5 times a week to get back in shape as much as the Siatic nerve allows my legs, which isn't much some weeks and more other weeks. They said the Siatic nerve could easily take 1-2 years to heal and considering my lower left leg is still numb after 6-plus months, I believe it.

And also in January after facing my frozen annuity 2 of the last 4 years and the other two years with only small to modest increases, the cost of living has found me where there's not much extra spending money anymore, especially repaying the money investing in my small photography business.

But I dug the financial hole and I'll fill it up over the next 2-3 years and be even, or near what I can achieve and if nothing financially disasterous happens. That doesn't include surgeries I'll need within the next 3-5 years, for which there is no money right now.

Yeah, not good news, so why auspicious? Well, knowledge is power and now I know where I'm truly sitting and what it takes to have a life. And that's auspicious to me and a better start than the last few years.

And as a friend always said, "It's beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A simple problem made complex

In 2005, the year I would retire on the last day to start a new life and career, I decided with my physician to get a more complete checkup than the standard annual physical which I didn't have very often anyway.

The main reason is that since the early 1980's I had been plagued with a simple problem, or so I thought but never worried or wondered about it. Whenever I started my run for the day my heart would race quickly and I would be out of breath in the first quarter to half mile.

I usually slowed down to a walk or even stopped and after a minute or so, I would be ok. My heart rate lowered to the normal rate during the run and my breathing was consistently normal for the run. This has lasted ever since doing anything physically stressful.

Well, the cardiologist found my heart was fine with no blockages except on very one small artery on the bottom of the heart and really inconsequential, normal pumping volumes and only a small leak on one valve indistinguishable from Rheutmatic Fever I had when I was 3 and the normal wear and tear of age.

Then she said I had a ~20% blockage of my pulmonary artery from the heart. It's the artery which carries the oxygen deprived blood to the lungs, which explains why I was running out of breath shortly into exercise or activity. She noted my body found ways to compensate for this blockage.

First she said there were a few extra arteries around the blockage to the lungs which helped restore the blood flow. Second, after looking puzzled at the test results, said it's likey there are extra nerves to the heart which causes the rapid increase shortly into any exercise or activity.

This is because they found in the tests my heart rate can accelerate from normal to over 180 beats per second faster than normal, in short a straight line up on the heart rate monitor I wore for 24 hours including during runs.

She said it was a way the body compensated by increasing the blood flow to the lungs to get the necessary oxygen into the blood and out to the body. They also found my heart has a slower than normal return rate, it just doesn't want to slow down after going faster.

The test results also showed the blockage was caused by a high cholesterol level, over 200, probably going back 20 years or more when the blockage originally started. Ok, easily solved with diet and drugs, or so it seemed.

And this is where a simple problem became complex.

Well, I changed my diet and dropped my cholesterol to below 200 and it's continues to drop with each successive test, but not where it will help reduce the blockage enough, not without drugs. So she put me on statin drugs.

But we discovered my body and mind can't tolerate statin or the over-the-counter equivalent (Red Rice Yeast). They make me tired, too tired to run, and excerbate my Dysthymia into depression. So, that experiment ended where the only course was diet and exercise.

And that's where I'm at, just diet and exercise, and have routine cholesterol tests to see if we can get it to below 100 and hopefully near 70 where the body will start to dissolve the blockage and reabsorb the plague into the blood stream where it will be removed.

And that's the plan and what I'm doing. I'd love to get back to running but with the Siatic nerve and shin splints it's just walking. I've tested the body and legs running for short distances and it's ok, but getting back to the 3+ miles 4-5 days a week I was 5 years ago is something for hope than reality for now.

But it's a good future considering everything and sure beats the alternative.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

More on Walking

In June of 2011 I pinched my Siatic nerve (the L4 and L5 vertabra), a mild pinch which left my left leg numb for two months. In June-July of 2012 I pinched the nerve again which left me flat on my back for 4 days and the whole right leg numb. It’s still numb, bad enough it has no reflex from above the knee to the ankle.

That said, I walked, on and off from September through November but then started walking 5-6 miles 4-5 days a week in December and now January, minus a week off each month to recoup and get other work done.

The point? Well, what I’ve learned as I lose weight, aka fat, is that the more days I walk, the less I eat and the longer distance I walk, the less I eat. I was reading that exercise increases chemicals responsible for your appetite, meaning feeling hungry to eat and more, but also increases the chemicals responsible for suppressing your appetite, not wanting eat.

It’s the mix of the two which determines what, how much and when you eat after your excercise. They found the amount of calories you eat before your exercise also determines how much you eat after your exercise and the rest of the day, and less actually increases the appetite after exercise but a little more suppress it.

And that’s the point, I’m not at the point I can resume running or other excercise beyond light routine exercise, eg. warmup, stretching, situps, etc., and so walking it is until the Siatic nerve gives me my legs back. Until then, yes, I’ll walk as often and as far as my legs will take me.

Sometimes it’s that you give your hardest and best with the cirumstances you have. It’s all you can do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Thought

As I've written, I've been walking 5-6 miles 3-5 times a week to recover from a pinched Siatic nerve, both to the left leg, which is weaker than year ago, and the right leg, which is numb in the front from above the knee to the ankle. Yeah, sucks.

But that said, on the walk I often take routes along the rural roads around Gig Harbor, some to add distance to the walk with some amount of elevation gain and loss, my home being at 240 feet above the Narrows Strait and 400+ feet for commercial area or sea level for the downtown area of Gig Harbor.

It's cool to see the changes over time along the routes, especially with the seasons. But there are times when there will be no cars and almost silence, the only noise being the weather itself and occasional distant sounds of animals, airplanes, trucks on the highway.

It's interesting then to stop, just absorb it, and get the feeling of being totally alone, and there are moments I wonder if I wasn't standing there, like I suddenly just disappeared, what would happen. No one would even know I was there at that moment.

It's like you never existed. What would happen and who would be effected? Time, life and the world would go on like nothing happened. In the silence gone. And then I walk on. But it's an interesting thought experiment, what you sense and your existence.

And to just stand there in the silence, feeling alive.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Goals

So, a short ways into 2013 and I have no resolutions. But I do have a few goals after looking at my life, my finances and my work and projects, and I can put some goals together, although I've never been good a meeting goals, just always adjusting them.

The first goal is to get my fitness back after the last two years of health issues with the digestive system problems and pinched Siatic nerve, the former a permanent condition for life and the latter a semi-permanent condition for now as time is the only thing that heals it provided I don't make it worse.

So far, it's working, which is walking 5-6 miles 4-5 times a week. Unfortunately, this takes a lot out of me where the walk in the morning means I don't get into working on the Website and projects until late afternoon into the evening. Not the way to be productive.

The second goal is get myself out of the deep hole of debt I'm in from the last 2 years. My debt was manageable and shrinking until two years ago and I invested in my computer system and communications devices for the upstart business that hasn't gone anywhere let alone earn any money.

That's my fault for not working harder on it and the best I can do is give reasons or excuse but neither accomplishes anything. Words don't pay bills. But then I haven't worked hard on the business side of the work, something I plan to improve but no much since I didn't plan the business to be profitable, just legal.

The third goal has been the same the last 3-plus years, finish the Mt. Rainier NP photo guide. Granted it's balloned to something far greater than I envisioned years ago, even imagined was possible, and there's always work to do on it for the rest of my life.

But the goal is to get the basic photo guide done to turn it into a book-style format for users and hopefully a publisher. Like that's not stretching my imagination these days? But I can turn it into some type of e-book or PDF, an iPhone/iPad application/format, and whatever else people need for it.

I want to also work on the rest of the projects around the photo guide. There's years of work there with more project ahead, and yes, the rest of my life. It's why I started it, to spend the rest of my life on it and fit everything else around it.

There is another goal but it's on hold pending the finances and my health. It ran into a wall this last fall over health complications with the treatment and then again this winter with the finances. There's no money to finish it as I'm at the point where money is the only thing preventing me from finishing it.

So, that's it for now and 2013.