wp-1475351906555.jpgToday I got back on my bike, avoiding falling down, and traveled 10.5 miles through 5 different trailer parks. I ride with heightened awareness, of course, because that’s what an accident/mishap should do for you if you survive it. I did this for my physical health and my mental health, which brings me to the topic I’m interested in today.

Some things appear on the radar in a way that warrants more attention – like maybe they appear from a couple different directions within a short time period. I always pay attention when this happens because I’m a person who prays for God’s direction, any way he cares to give it. I think if I ask for help, I’d better be looking out for it, duh?

Here it was, the first thing, an appointment with my doctor that was made so long ago I couldn’t remember why it was made. But I went. It was part of my “welcome to Medicare” physical. Several months ago I had the first part where you answer a lot of questions, get lectured on how you should be keeping healthy, and have $700 worth of tests ordered (that figure is low and doesn’t count the bone density test and mammogram…). The last part is when your doctor goes over the results of the tests with you and gives recommendations. My doctor was so booked up that I didn’t get the second part until 6 months after the first part.

So far in my aging process, I’ve been able to avoid medications except for a few supplements that I take sporadically. But I have been concerned about my blood pressure gradually creeping up and my cholesterol numbers as well. I am doing some lifestyle alterations to deal with the blood pressure but the cholesterol is a bit more complicated of an issue. There is a group of medications called “statins” that I am pretty convinced are not good for people and that I do not want to take. Is my supposedly bad LDL cholesterol sticking to the insides of my coronary arteries? Not necessarily, and I am going to find out for sure in a week.

Do you get check ups? Do you know your cholesterol numbers? If you have high LDL levels, you might be interested in the test called Coronary Calcium Scan. It is an x-ray that shows whether there are calcium deposits or plaque building up in the arteries of your heart. In some people high LDL cholesterol leads to plaque, which leads to blockage and a heart attack eventually. In other people the LDL’s just slip on through and don’t stick to the insides of the arteries – because it’s complicated and involves a lot of other factors (that you don’t want to hear now). It is very helpful to know which kind of person you are for obvious reasons. Insurance doesn’t always cover this test, but for some reason a couple labs in my area are running sales – $50.  There is almost nothing available in health care that only costs $50, so I am springing for it out of pocket. As I said, that’s the first thing.

The second thing that popped on the radar was brain health. The husband and I were watching PBS last night and they were fundraising. But their fundraising is less tortuous than some. Here is the question that struck me as we watched this special. We expect to be told to have a baseline EKG (heart health). We expect to be told to have a colonoscopy after the age of 50 (gut health), we expect to be looked over for skin cancer, and we expect mammograms and bone density. So what is missing from this picture, something important to every one of the aforementioned systems? Your brain! We don’t hear much about checking our brain and attending to its health – and the good news is, there are ways to do it and ways to help your brain be healthy.

I am truly excited to know this. Today I got some exercise so my brain would have a healthier body in which to live. I’ll share a little more next post – I have an aversion to writing anything over 700 words. Just sayin’…

Changing My Mind

Changing My Mind

My mind needs to change.

I have been of the mind that serious health problems belong to other people but not to me. I have always worked activity into my life effortlessly – I love to move. I have grandparents who lived into their 90’s and parents who are still living independently. I have weighed the same, within a few pounds more or less, all my grown up life. I don’t worry about what I eat, am seldom ill, am probably a type A multi-tasker, go years between doctors appointments. To all appearances I am a healthy person.

My human nature doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on the diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer in my family history.

Last week I decided to fill out a health survey. One of the questions was to compare blood triglyceride values from past years to the present. I didn’t like what I saw. I went on to look at cholesterol levels, HDL, and LDL. Again there was an alarming trend. I have also noticed a rise in my blood pressure from my usual quite low reading to a higher “normal”. I don’t know how much of this, if any, is normal for me as I age. I’d like to think these changes could go away.

I think I’ll start by admitting that the better eating habits we’ve been adopting aren’t just for the husband, they’re for me too. No more hiding stuff to eat after he’s gone (did I say that, really?) No more reminding him not to eat what I’m eating. And now I’ll not just be walking the husband, I’ll be walking the self for exercise.

The thing I’m really worried about is butter. I’m a little worried about Half and Half in my coffee but I’ve already decided that cutting down a bit on the caffeine would be better for me so that tablespoon of cream is not too bad. But butter, hmm… I love butter.

I read that overuse of NSAIDs can affect blood pressure and that’s another thing I’ve done in the last few years. Ibuprofen has been my friend and how I miss it when I lay off for a few days! But I’ve already decided to get used to hurting a little bit more and maybe taking things a little easy to avoid some of those hurts.

My goal is to see those numbers in my lipid panel improve.  And I’m pretty sure it starts in my head, with a change of mind.  If anyone out there has done something that really worked well, please share it with me.