So this is the kind of stuff that happens to me.
About a month ago I got my annual physical, which I get about every three years. My doctor is not happy about this, but I'm forgetful, what can I say. And despite being in excellent health in every other way, my blood tests come back and I have...high cholesterol. Not just kind of a little bit highish, but really full-blown high. My doctor is hot happy about this either, and insists on my going on...Lipitor.
Now I have rather negative, but somewhat mixed feelings regarding this. I am generally a very cynical person. So I distrust things like giant, evil pharmaceutical companies, and am willing to believe all the negative conspiracy theories that say that the pharmaceuticals created the entire cholesterol scare just to sell lots and lots (and lots) of drugs. But on the other hand, I'm so cynical that I am willing to believe that the conspiracy theorists don't really know a damned thing and did they go to medical school or what?
I am, therefore, torn. In the end, it all came down to this - my mother died at the age of 69 from heart failure. Which was unacceptably young. This was just before they started testing everybody for cholesterol. But considering the fact that toward the end of her life the woman subsisted mostly on a diet of shellfish, pork and bourbon, I suspect that her cholesterol numbers were sky high. I absolutely refuse to die that young. It's just too damned young to leave my boy. I'm aiming for 93. By then, Jude will be 51, and I think that's an appropriate age to lose your mother. And I think that's old enough to have seen a lot of stuff, but not so old that you've completely fallen apart. At least that's the intention that I am hearby putting out to the universe.
So after expressing my concerns to my doctor, she agreed that I could go on the Lipitor for 6 weeks, and if at that point my numbers have dropped considerably, I can go off it and try to keep things in check with diet and exercise. This is the plan. Since then, I have been possibly a little overzealous - I've been practically a vegan. I am determined to scrub out my arteries.
On the Saturday before Easter, I went to church to sing with my choir at the Easter Vigil mass. It's a really beautiful service which starts off with everybody standing in the dark, and then the priest lights some kind of a holy fire (one year, the priest had the boneheaded idea of lighting it in a firepit, and all the smoke was sucked up into the choir loft, and we all practically choked, but that's another story...) and the whole church is slowly filled with light as we all light candles.
So I'm sitting there in the dark, about to start singing, and suddenly, I feel this weird, pain and pressure in my upper chest. "Hmmm", I think, "I've never felt this before." It does not get better. In fact, it gets worse, and things start whizzing through my brain. Things like that Facebook post I'd read the week before about the symptoms of heart attacks in women. Things like the fact that I have high cholesterol and my mother died of heart failure. I immediately scared myself into a hot flash.
I excused myself, ran to the bathroom at the back of the church and Googled "heart attack symptoms in women". Chest pain and/or pressure. Check. Sweating. Check. Fatigue. Check. Holy crap, I'm having a heart attack!
I immediately walked out of the church, and drove myself to the emergency room. In retrospect, I believe this was a very stupid thing to do. But I didn't want to worry anybody.
When I got to the hospital, they hooked me up to all sorts of monitors - I had those sticky heart monitor thingies all over me. After about three hours, a blood test, a chest x-ray and an EKG, it was decided that...there was nothing wrong with me.
Two days later, we left for Disney World, and I didn't have any problems during the entire trip. Then just after we got back, it returned. The pain/pressure. And it was worse than ever.
So what was it? If it wasn't a heart attack, what was my problem? I went to visit Dr. Google, and decided that I had either gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or esophageal cancer. I then went to my actual doctor, and she narrowed it down for me. Yes, I have GERD, and she put me on...Prilosec. ANOTHER STUPID DRUG.
I am now on not one, but TWO old lady drugs! What the what? While I am more than happy to take money FROM a pharmaceutical company for playing a woman on old lady drugs in a commercial, I have no interest in giving money TO a pharmaceutical company for an old lady drug!
The doctor thinks that I got the stupid GERD because I changed my diet so much when I found out I had the stupid high cholesterol! Can't win for losing, right?
I am determined to shut the pharmaceutical companies out of my life with diet and exercise, but until then I guess I'm just a full-on old fart. I'm just going to bite the bullet and take the stupid meds and get my lifestyle under control. Bette Davis said, "Old age ain't no place for sissies." But I have never been a sissy, so I am planning on surviving old age for quite some time. Wish me luck.
Don't forget to check out Ginny Marie and my other Aging spinners. And come back on Monday to find out our next Spin Cycle topic!
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