As an offshoot of my bout with atrial fibrillation in May, I went back in to see my cardiologist for a follow-up. The good news: the old tickers is fine. The bad news: I have to start acting like a grownup now and get some wellness care. (Meaning maintenance drugs.)
First off, I know my blood pressure has been creeping up. I get a reading every time I give blood or otherwise see a medical professional, so I’ve seen the pattern. That the doc wants me on BP medicine did not come as a shock. In fact, I’d already been working on lowering my sodium intake.
Now, I never put salt on anything (but French fries), but have you seen the sodium content on prepared foods? Holy crap! Just about everything I buy from the grocery store is loaded with sodium. One can of Campbell’s chili has over 1600 mg, and most Progresso soups have over 1000. You’re only supposed to have 2000 mg per day, and probably less if you’re trying to lower your blood pressure.
I’ve been buying lots of “no salt” canned vegetables and “reduced sodium” soups. They’re better for me, but unfortunately they taste like sawdust. I had to consult with Sweetpea to help me make my side dishes taste like anything.
So I was ready when my doc prescribed BP meds for me. (Lisinopril, to be exact.) I also had to go buy a blood pressure monitor so I could take daily measurements and report them to my doctor every week. I got one for Sweetpea’s place too, so I didn’t have to schlep mine around every weekend.
He also had me get some bloodwork done, which I haven’t had since around 2009. My cholesterol was in the high range… just barely, but still high. (And the “good” cholesterol was barely too low.) So I’m on cholesterol medicine now too… Crestor.
The bloodwork also showed a problem with my triglycerides. I don’t know what those are but I have way too many of them. No pill for that; only way to address that is to lose weight and drink less.
And there it is… That’s why I avoid doctors the way I do. Total buzz-kills, and I mean that literally. Obviously, I’ll have to seek an exemption for football season. I’ll see if there’s any wiggle room.
I’ve been on the meds now for just over a month. Good news: my BP is way down. The meds are doing the job. The bad news: I have one of the common side effects… persistent dry cough. I asked him give me something else; we’ll see if it kills the cough. Just started taking it on Friday. No change with the cough yet but the BP is still good.
Another ramification of my follow-up is that my doctor hooked me up with a primary care physician, right in the same hospital complex. I haven’t had a PCP, pretty much ever, so this is a big development. I’m happy that whatever comes up, I’ll be in a facility that can handle it so I won’t have to be sent all over hell’s half-acre for different services.
I met with her for an initial consultation last week and we hit it off well. Hell, it was almost like a first date, with all the relating of personal history. But it’s time that I get with the program and start taking better care of myself. I want to have a lot of time with Sweetpea before I get old and decrepit.
And as I feared, our discussion led directly to the Big C.
You know… Colonoscopy. I knew I was five years past the threshold so I’m overdue. I’m not exactly looking forward to it but I realize it’s inevitable. But when she asked me when I wanted to schedule it, I was like, “It’s gotta be before the end of the year.”
She looked at me like she was surprised by my rush. I said, “That heart treatment this year filled up my insurance deductible. I’m in the sweet spot now, with the insurance picking up the bulk of the bills, so I want to fit in everything I need before December 31st.”
If they must shove something up my ass, I’d rather not be the one paying for it.
On the bright side, we decided I wouldn’t need another prostate exam, without the appearance of symptoms indicating that one is required. I think I high-fived her. You really have to appreciate all of life’s little victories.
So there I was, all ready to make life changes and commit to good health, but there, standing in my way, was a week’s vacation in Ocean City. Sweetpea had a friend with a condo for rent down there, so there we went… me, her, and two of her friends (a guy and a girl).
This was the back of the place, with up and downstairs decks. Gorgeous.
Seriously, no one should have to start a new healthy lifestyle during a week in a beach house. I know I ate stuff down there that I never eat at home. The snacks were totally on point.
These were just the snacks Sweetpea and I brought. Similar quantities were provided by the other two guests as well. To look at our countertop, you’d think someone handed a hundred-dollar bill to a 9-year-old and said, “Go get some food for your treehouse.”
Our first full day down there came with the threat of heavy rain, which was supposed to start around 1:30. We decided to hit the boardwalk for a couple hours before the rain began.
There are all kinds of odd places on the boardwalk and it’s funny about the things you consider when you’re on vacation.
Wrong! After careful consideration, I decided, “Oh HELL no.”
The rest of our board walking didn’t work out though… Rain started early at 12:30, so we did the only reasonable thing. We took refuge in the nearest bar. After a couple drinks, it looked like it was letting up, so we made a break for it. Bad choice. We got soaked running back to the car.
Note to Doctor: Today I went for a run.
Things started clearing up on Tuesday, enough so we could get in a round of mini-golf.
Note to Doctor: Played 18 holes, and didn’t even use a cart.
Wednesday and Thursday were gorgeous, so we spent the morning and early afternoon on the beach. At one point on Wednesday, I posted to Facebook:
Beach status check:
Times in water: 1
Times crushed by wave: 2
Saline in nasal cavity? Yes. Note to Doctor: I’m staying hydrated.
Water in ear? No.
Lost contacts? No.
Lost hat? No.
Sand in every crevice? Well, shit…
Families of goobers set up directly between us and the water? 2
I wanted to move our chairs up and sit right in front of them. See how they like it.
So the results of the beach experience were mixed.
After beaching, it was time to go out and get some libations. Because it was too early for “Happy Hour,” we went to Happy Lunch instead. That’s like Happy Hour with sandwiches.
The “guy” part of Sweetpea’s friends was the guy she texted the day we met when she saw me at the bar and wondered what my name was. They’d been friends for more than 20 years. I only knew him as the jolly Ravens fan from the other side of the bar.
When we were at the condo, I said to him, “In your wildest dreams, did you ever think you’d find yourself in a beach condo for a week with “That Steelers asshole over there?”
No surprise there. Besides differences in football allegiance, we also had another significant difference:
I don't know how the dude even sits on a barstool without falling off. That’s a serious “Costanza” wallet right there.
He and the other girl left on Thursday, which gave Sweetpea and I some time to ourselves in the condo, which was nice.
In other news, Sweetpea wants to get our own beach house, so I’d better get to work.
This was the longest amount of time we’d ever been together without a night apart. We both wondered if it would work, or if there would be problems. We were delighted to find that we could have kept going. Granted, it’s a vacation on the beach, not the daily grind of working, commuting, household chores and complaining about the utility bills. So it’s not really a fair comparison to a long-term living situation. But is sure wasn’t a disqualifier either. We are both optimistic for our futures together.
As long as I can stay healthy, that is. Oh, that reminds me:
Note to Doctor: I played another 18 holes, still without using a cart. And I had to use steps, too (to get up onto the pirate ship.)
A Shameless Plug
As some may know, my friend Sherry Stanfa-Stanley spent a year doing her 52/52 Project, in which she did one thing outside of her comfort zone for every year of age. She did things like going to a nude beach, zip-lining, acting as a street mime, crashing a wedding and a fraternity party, and going into a sensory deprivation tank.
After first blogging about her experiences, she then wrote an honest-to-God book about them.
The book was released last week and I was thrilled when my copy arrived. I was even more thrilled that I turned up in one of the stories (page 300) and in the acknowledgments. The acknowledgment stemmed from a comment I made to her from THIS blog in 2011, which may have just instigated the whole shebang.
But the “Bluz” angle aside, the book is a real hoot to read. Trust me, you’re going to want to go along for the ride. She’s one of the bravest people I know. There is zero chance I’d do even half of the things she tried. You can order it from Amazon by clicking the link: Finding my Badass Self.
You can either tear through it in a couple hours, or read it more… incrementally.