Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Opening a Savings Account

This a follow-up to an earlier post about my trip to the ER last week.  I visited my primary doc and found out the results of my tests.  Basically, I'm experiencing extra heartbeats.  The doctors don't seem to be incredibly worried about my immediate heart health, but they have asked me to eliminate caffeine and reduce alcohol consumption, and then follow up with them in a month.  These are relatively minor lifestyle changes that I believe I can accomplish relatively easily.  I've also got the green light to start a moderate exercise program in addition to the aforementioned recommendations.  I've also switched from beer to red wine, because I've heard that it's more heart healthy... and, since I don't like it as much as beer, I won't be so inclined to overindulge.

In the meantime, I think that I'm going to store up those extra heartbeats and keep them in a savings account.  I'll withdraw them when my heart starts skipping beats.

For Immediate Release

A potential constituent asked about my campaign stance on burritos.  For the record, I am pro burrito.  In line with this, I should also clarify my stance on sauerkraut.  I am not a personal supporter of sauerkraut, but I do support an individual's right to be pro-sauerkraut.  I believe that the government has no place in a person's kitchen.  I know that people will say I'm opening up a slippery slope... that sauerkraut is a gateway food... that it's a short road to cake addiction.  But I stand by my convictions.  The government has no place in a person's kitchen.  At some point, the government needs to understand that people are smart enough to make their own decisions... that if we tightly regulate the kitchen, then it's only a matter of time before they assign an au pair to each of us, and turn the land of the free into a nanny state.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aging as Gracefully as I Can

Part of aging is realizing things you need to address immediately vs. things that you can put off... things you want vs. things you need.  I have a kid who thinks that she needs a car, and another who thinks that she needs to get her ears pierced immediately.  When they get the flu, they both think that they need to go to the doctor immediately.

As an adult, I have come to realize that I can usually wait an extra month or two to purchase new glasses, that I can completely skip the doctor when I get the flu, and that minor aches and pains should be addressed if they linger long enough.  Sometimes, all of the necessities happen back to back.

I had planned on getting new glasses in about six months.  Unfortunately, my old frames broke.  And since my prescription had changed anyway, it was more cost effective to get an eye exam and new glasses now.

A few years ago, I also developed a bulging disk in my neck, causing nerve pain and numbness in my right shoulder, and occasionally up and down my arm.  The pain was low-level and tolerable, but it would be stupid to wait, because that could aggravate the situation, potentially requiring surgery.  I eventually got it addressed with an epidural shot.  A month or two ago, the pain reappeared, and last week I got another epidural shot of cortisone in my neck.

And a month or two ago, I started noticing that my heart would occasionally beat very strongly in my chest for a few seconds.  The symptoms are difficult to describe... it's kind of like how your heart pounds after you finish a strenuous workout, but it would come out of nowhere, last a few seconds, and then disappear.  There has been no shortness of breath, no pain, no nausea, or any other symptoms that might make me think I'm having a heart attack.  So I figured that it wasn't urgent, but again, it didn't go away on its own, so I decided to follow up on it.  I called my family doctor's office yesterday, and they said to go to the emergency room... do not pass go, do not collect $200.  I knew that it wasn't an emergency, so I figured that I'd go to urgent care the next day (today).  Like the doctor's office, they lacked heart monitoring devices, so I knew that the ER was the only option.  I hopped on my motorcycle, rode to the ER, walked in the door, and collapsed at the doorstep with a massive coronary.

Okay, there was no massive coronary.  But man, the way they reacted when I said heart palpitations, you would have sworn that I did.  They put me in a wheel chair and had me hooked up to a heart monitor within two minutes.  I felt like a dork.  I told them that I wasn't having a heart attack!  I spent the next three hours on a heart monitor, getting blood drawn, peeing into a bottle, getting x-rays and waiting... and waiting... and waiting.  I'm VERY happy that I took my Nexus 7 tablet with me.  Being able to read and surf the internet made the time pass far more quickly.

In the end, my labs all came back normal, and since I didn't experience any palpitations while I was in the hospital, they sent me home with a heart monitor that I need to keep strapped on for the next 48 hours, while I continue my regular activities.  All of this, by the way, is what I predicted they'd do.  It would have been nice to be able to go to the doctor and get one of these monitors, saving some time and money, but hey, I didn't design the healthcare system, I just play in it.  I expect that I will need to start exercising.  That's okay... it'll be an excuse to use that family membership to the YMCA that the wife keeps up.

Overall, this is my point... In each of my three stories, I realized that things weren't optimal.  At the same time, I understood what I could put off, and what I couldn't.  I'm not a hypochondriac, who equates a sniffle with the plague, but I also don't completely ignore it when my body tries to tell me something.  Hypochondriacs spend too much time worrying.  And those who ignore messages from their body do so at their own peril.  I'd like to think that I've got a healthy balance.

By the way, please don't take this as a sly request for sympathy or anything like that.  I really feel like I'm fine.  I genuinely think that I'm just being prudent.  I'm honestly just trying to relay a story.