Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Health at 60

For my father - I'm sure that on the day I was born, he never expected to be around when I would reach my sixtieth birthday!

Here we go then - I'm 60. I need to get over it.

Overall - I can't complain healthwise. But time takes its toll, wear and tear is evident. Healthcare vs magic.

Back in June I went to the doctor, I felt a numbness in the big toe of my left foot. A heart thing? Better get checked out. First check was blood pressure. It was through the roof (200/110, something like that). The doctor would not let me out until I'd swallowed a couple of pills and the blood pressure came down to a more normal measure. Next was a whole battery of tests - ECG, USG, blood and urine samples - all were fine.  The doctor told me that were I an obese guy who smoked and did no exercise, she'd know what to prescribe, but in my case... I was told to buy a blood pressure gauge and to measure it for two weeks and come back.

Which I did. Bringing with me a graph which showed a steady day-by-day lowering of my blood pressure, but still it was on the high side (146/102).

The doctor prescribed me some pills for blood pressure. I asked "How long for? A month? Till the end of the packet" "No," she replied. "For the rest of your life."


"Your body is getting older, think of these pills as a pair of reading glasses," she said, asking me to come back in a month's time for a check-up and a repeat prescription.

What happened next is interesting, and I'd be keen to hear your views.

I bought the pills, but didn't even open the packet. I'm not going to take these drugs for the rest of my life just because a doctor says so based on the evidence of two weeks.

I determined to get the blood pressure down naturally. Further improve the diet, intensify the exercise. Meditate on the breathing. Do anything but take these drugs.

And over the weeks, by the time of my next visit, my blood pressure was consistently lower (114/78). Something the doctor ascribed to the medicine. I didn't tell her that I wasn't taking it. What I was taking was the readings; three in the morning and three in the evening, to get an average, to ensure consistency and accuracy. Yesterday's average is fine (116/76, see chart below).

CategorysystolicmmHgdiastolic, mmHg
< 90
< 60
Prehypertension (high normal)
Stage 1 hypertension
Stage 2 hypertension
Hypertensive urgency
≥ 180
≥ 110
Isolated systolic hypertension
≥ 160
< 90

I should still aim to get it lower (ideally 110/70) and keep it there. My father is 94, my mother died at 88 - whose heart have I got? Even if my mother's, with better diet (no cake or biscuits, lots of fruit and veg) and plenty of exercise, the odds of getting to 90 are very good.

What was the cause of the numb toe? Turns out its a skeletal thing. Bits of my bone are growing strangely (think bone spurs). I have these spurs sticking out of both elbows, and the X-ray apparently shows growths in my spine which are pressing on the nerve that goes to my left toe. It's nothing serious, but it's something I should monitor.

Monitoring is all important. Be conscious of the slightest change to how the body feels and responds, but before gulping down pills, consider the matter carefully.

I am blessed with a father who's in remarkably good health, mentally and physically. Yet there are ills that flesh is heir to - like my father, I sometimes find it difficult to swallow certain foods - something that came on after my 40th birthday. Like my father I get leg cramps on summer nights. Like my father, I have itchy skin on my back. Like my father if I'm bending down for any length of time, I find it uncomfortable to stand up straight quickly. And our eyesight has got worse along the same trajectory (weak left eye, right eye needed ever-stronger reading glasses). But these are not major health worries.

When it comes to the blood pressure, I shall be taking it easy. Not arguing about politics with cretins. Just walk away from conflicts. Avoid TV news, avoid people I don't like.

My father worked until he was a few months short of his 70th birthday - a good target to aim for.

This time two years ago:
In search of vectors for migrating consciousness

This time three years ago:
Slipping from late summer to early autumn

This time four years ago:
Turning 56

This time five years ago: 
Turning 55 

This time six years ago:
Turning 54

This time seven years ago:
Turning 53

This time ten years ago:
Turning 50


Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Michael! As long as you keep blogging for the next 20-odd years I'm sure we'll all be happy 馃榿馃帀馃帀 Suzy

Anonymous said...

Did you ask what the pills were exactly for, what they scientifically are supposed to do?
Perhaps they were placebos the effect of which you achieved yourself.
Perhaps the doctor assumed you wouldn't be able to change your lifestyle like you did, perhaps each episode of high blood pressure is making things worse?
Lots of unknowns that are relevant to the question: should I continue to trust my own intuition (do you have some medical training?) over the educated advice from a doctor.

Ian Wilcock said...

Happy birthday Michael. I take the pills as my BP is high and they seem to keep a lid on it. That said my lifestyle is nowhere near as healthy as yours!

Anonymous said...

A couple of points:

1. A doctor would never prescribe a placebo for diagnosed hypertension.

2. I don't believe there is a separate class of hypertension medication for obese, out of shape patients, as compared to slender, fit patients.

3. Sometimes genetics trumps environment. If hypertension runs in your family, you may be susceptible to it, no matter how much you exercise, eat healithily or stay away from emotionally charged situations.

4. Taking a pill a day to manage hypertension does not reflect badly on you as a person. It may save your life.

Anonymous said...

Where the pills statins? - a daily bowl of oats is far better and no side effects.

Anonymous said...

Statins are prescribed to control hypercholesterolemia - not hypertension.

If you have familial hypercholesterolemia for example, all the oatmeal in the world, will NOT lower your risk of atherosclerosis. High levels of cholesterol and high density lipoproteins will cause damage to your cardiovascular system. You will need to take a statin/s. Or die at the age of 45 of a heart attack due to uncontrolled coronary artery disease.

Why is it so difficult for people to understand that not ALL illnesses can be cured by natural means? Especially as we age. TAKE that pill.