There have been numerous questions over the past few days as to my state of well-being. I won’t go into each question, nor will I state from where precisely the questions have come…however I will now give a reasonably concise summary of the recent conversations with the experts…
Since having the intriguing visit to the Emergency Room at the Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH — which is currently undergoing a major expansion which will add significantly to the space available for emergencies as well as other maladies) in the week before Christmas, I have been visiting a variety of medical technicians and specialists in addition to my BC doctor.
The technicians managed to tape me sufficiently that in the extrication from such adhesives, my chest looks somewhat like a patch along the Mekong River after being visited by B-52’s on a night bombing raid in the early seventies. However, such appearances do not show when I am out in public due to my propensity to wear shirts and jackets. The results from their efforts were mostly positive, and the results that weren’t mostly were in fact mainly super. My heart beats, on average 61 beats per minute.
The x-rays, the EKG’s, the Holter Monitor all provided affirmative insights that my heart operates very well for someone past the mid-point in life. In fact, one might even suggest that there is little that the tests showed that would have suggested I should have gone for those tests. But my doctor was glad that I did. More importantly though, he was glad that I would meet, at some point, with a Cardiologist.
Today was that day. Moreover it was the same Cardiologist I met with a couple of years ago as part of my re-introduction to the BC medical community. It turns out now that he is my permanent Cardiologist going forward. For this I am very thankful. He is young, he is bright, he is personable, he is willing to take the time to explain what is happening.
Today he spent a good deal of time asking questions about my lifestyle. He finds that I am doing all the things that I should be doing to maintain my health — biking and skiing are to continue at the top of my list. My twice weekly workouts at the gym are also of continuing importance. He also recommended that I do acquire one of these new gizmos that one puts in a workout room and then attaches a normal/regular old bike…it then becomes a stationary bike exercise machine. I will talk to the Bike Barn in the next couple of weeks and hopefully by early March it will become part of my off-gym home workout routine.
Here are the highlights of his assessment of my health:
The scaring in my left lung is not from the incident at the gym in Regina when I was working out with the Roughriders. And it isn’t anything that happened in my very early days of my youth. It remains a mystery, but a mystery that neither he nor my other doctors are going to worry about — ergo, I am not to worry about it…
My heart rate is excellent and even when it rises a bit, I am not to be concerned. If it ever drops into the low 40’s then there will be alarm bells going off, but as that has never happened, there is no worry. (Should it even rise into the 80’s I am not to panic…keep calm and although it to return to its normalcy.)
There does not seem to be a great concern about atrial fibrillation. It does occur and it may begin to occur more often. But if it does, I am to wait a day before reacting as it may well simply be an episode. As well, I need to assess at the time of the episode how much pain or discomfort there is, and if it is relatively minor or insignificant, then I should not rush to the ER at PRH (or anywhere else). If it is persistent, or somewhat aggravating, then I should go to ER and they will include my Cardiologist in any assessments and/or treatments.
I have a slight case of sleep apnea but as long as I sleep on my side, this is manageable and is not having undue influence on my heart or my overall health.
There has been a slight rise in my blood pressure, probably due to new stresses in my life (such things as the Strata Council and the internal dysfunction due to one member suing the rest of us for a spurious reason, may be hyping the moment). His advice is simple: if something is no longer fun, then remove it from the agenda. He feels I am at a stage in my life where I don’t need to put up with unnecessary or debilitating tenseness in my world. Therefore in the weeks and months ahead I will probably eliminate some activities from my schedule and concentrate more on those things that are fun or at least positively productive.
While my personal doctor sensed there is a slight thickening of the lower left chamber in my heart, due he felt to this increase in stress, the Cardiologist does not feel that this is really something to worry about. The increase is too small to be of major significance — partly because I am a somewhat larger individual than many upon whom the comparison rates are developed. However, he does recommend that I remain on two low-dose medications: one is low-dose aspirin; the other is a name I can’t pronounce. These will help maintain lower blood pressure without extensive impact on anything else. The overall issue is not so much atrial fib, as atrial flutter…
My diet is actually excellent and there is no need for any drastic change. One suggestion he did make was that I reduce somewhat my alcohol intake. I still can drink anything I wish (even while taking the various medicines), although it seems that wine and scotch are the most preferable. The real change will be that I will not drink as extensively as in the past — the only caveat in this is that when I am with my minister, Scotch Tastings will continue on the patterns that we have established in the past (as these, we believe, are divinely established!!).
In conclusion, I feel very comfortable with my Cardiologist. He was straightforward and very informative. He is comfortable with where I am and is pleased that I have met on a couple occasions with a dietitian (who has been very supportive of the diet that I follow), as well as keeping in regular contact with my personal doctor. I also have a very good Endocrinologist as well as a super Urologist, a better than average eye specialist. Mt Cardiologist would like me to lose another 5 kgs — to get down to 100 kg… (this is quite doable I believe as at one time I was 113 kg and I did get back to 110 before this latest round of improved diet [South Beach] which, after three weeks, has brought me down to 105 so far and hopefully within then next month or so I can move the needle even closer to 100.
So it was a good day. I am happy to report that I am in pretty good health for my age. I have good medical advisers. And, I enjoy waking up every morning. Life is good. I learned today, that is the most important aspect of good health — be happy to be alive and do whatever you can to be active, forward thinking and thoughtful…