Saturday, December 22, 2007

Health Update Redux

First, a little background for the newbies (like anyone really cares).

Way back on July 31, 2006 (at 6:35am, to be precise) I smoked my last cigarette. I've been completely tobacco free ever since. Smartest thing I ever did.

I'd never really been concerned about my health before. I never got any check ups or physicals because I knew they would just tell me to quit smoking. Don't need to pay someone to tell me something I already know.

So when my workplace announced a Wellness Fair in October of 2006, I decided to get checked out. Establish a baseline of where I stood.

I fully expected them to tell me I had waited too long to quit smoking and only had hours to live.

To my amazement, things weren't quite that dire:

Fasting Glucose: 91 (Normal Range 65-100)
Random Glucose: 96 (Normal Range <140)

So I wasn't diabetic.

Cholesterol: 246 (Normal Range <200)
Triglycerides: 66 (Normal Range <150)
HDL Cholesterol (the good kind): 138 (Normal Range >41)
LDL Cholesterol (the bad kind): 95 (Normal Range 0-99)
Total Cholesterol to HDL Ratio: 1.8 (Normal Range <4.5)

For a red-meat carnivore, my cholesteral was amazingly good!

I don't have the numbers to post, but the one downside was that my blood pressure was pretty high. [regular readers just dropped their jaws and said "GEE! Ya fucking think?!?!"]

I emailed my doctor (yeah, he's cool like that) with the results and he gave me a prescription for lisinopril, with instructions to follow up with an office visit in 30 days. I kinda forgot about that follow-up part and kept on taking the lisinopril for the next year.

I had a nagging cough that I just attributed to smoking for 30+ years. I wasn't even a year off the tobacco. I couldn't expect a miracle recovery. It takes time.

Then, in February, I experienced some chest pains that scared me. I was sure it was nothing. But I also knew I was 50+ years old, mostly sedentary, had a history of smoking and high blood pressure. How stupid would I be not to have it checked out? I drove myself to Liberty Hospital. They did all of the tests they would normally do on someone who showed up in the ER with chest pains and gave me a clean bill of health.

Whatever it was, it wasn't a heart attack. But they prescribed a Stress Echo Cardiogram, just in case.

I passed THAT test with flying colors.

Then, right around Thanksgiving, I had reason to believe that I should have some other things checked.

I made a list.

Follow-up blood work.

Follow-up blood pressure.

Chronic cough and other respritory issues.

PSE (prostrate).

When I told my doctor about my cough, he said that this long after quitting smoking, that probably wasn't the culprit. But he indicated that one of the side effects of Lisinopril (and all ACE inhibitors) is a dry cough. Which I would have known if I had followed up with him (as he instructed) after 30 days. So I had endured a year of unneccesary coughing because I was stupid. No big surprise there!

He switched me to Benicar. Cough is mostly gone and getting better all the time.

He scheduled me for a chest X-Ray. I was sure they would find me riddled with cancer. The chest X-Ray came back clean. So I'm all good there.

He sent me to get some blood work done. Liver and kidney all functioning fine. Unfuckingbelievable.

When I was in his office, he wanted to do a "digital exam". I told him that I was kinda hoping that we could avoid that today and maybe combine it with the prostrate exam and colonoscopy. Sort of a one stop shopping approach.

He said "Well, as long as you brought it with you..." SNAP (of the latex glove)!

He rooted around, wrote something down and gave me a referral for a colonoscopy.

The blood work on the PSE (Prostrate Specific Antigen) came back good.

"PSA test results report the level of PSA detected in the blood. The test results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood. In the past, most doctors considered PSA values below 4.0 ng/mL as normal. However, recent research found prostate cancer in men with PSA levels below 4.0 ng/mL (2). Many doctors are now using the following ranges with some variation:

0 to 2.5 ng/mL is low.
2.6 to 10 ng/mL is slightly to moderately elevated.
10 to 19.9 ng/mL is moderately elevated.
20 ng/mL or more is significantly elevated

My test came back as .89 nanograms per milliliter. So I certainly don't have any prostrate problems.

So, despite a half a century of unhealthy habits, I seem to be incredibly healthy. I'm packing more weight than I'm comfortable with and my blood pressure is still an issue. But other than that, I'm good to go!

My biggest fear now is that I will actually live long enough to regret the fact that I squandered what meager retirement funds I had.

That would suck ass.


Jay said...

Ah come on, what would the kansas city blog world be without your whit and charm? LOL Merry Christmas XO!

"The D" said...

So your telling us you'll be around for the next ice age? waaahahahahahaha!!

Stinkbait Boucher said...

Happy endings are cool. Here's to not reading of yours for several decades. Cheers!

Xavier Onassis said...

Oh, I almost forgot. I was also tested by a respritory therapist.

They determined that I only had a "mild impairment" in lung capacity. Mild!

After starting smokimg by stealing my dad's Camel straights in my teens!

Does anyone have access to any kryptonite? Because I bet I'm immune to that shit too.

D - I was around for the last one. Why wouldn't I be around for the next one? I miss me some mastadon rib eyes, grilled to perfection over an open fire of old growth sequoia wood. Seasoned with a bit of ground up saber-tooth tiger tusk and redwood bark. That right there is some goooood eatin'!

stink - I hope you're around to write my obit when I go. Just for the satisfaction of knowing that my hick family will screw their faces up in consternation and puzzlement asking "What the fuck did he just say?!?"

That would make it all worth it.

Spyder said...

Vegetarian me has cholesterol issues but no blood pressure problems. Go figure. Merry Christmas! Big hugs to you, Ms. V, and GTO!

Xavier Onassis said...

Thanks Spyder!

Right backatcha, sweetness!

And Kanga too!

Leigh Ann said...


Glad you checked out okay.

You mentioned health/hypochondria in that recent post, and I wondered what was up.

Congrats on your clean bill of health!!

travelingal said...

When do you start running marathons with "the d", you sexy devil?

Kanga said...

All good. If you can manage to drop some pounds, it will help with the BP. I've been on meds for hypertension for years, but getting out of the "overweight" range on the BMI is the only non-medication thing that's really helped. Sucks, but there it is. Glad your clean living is paying off.

Anonymous said...

It only goes to show you. you didn't want to walk while half your body was paralysed from a heart attack. WTG.

SmedRock said...

And all this time I though you were made of wood.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you're a stud. Congrats on the doctor's validation. :) Merry Christmas!

Stinkbait Boucher said...


Xavier Onassis said...

leigh ann - well, I'm not entirely in the clear just yet. I still haven't scheduled the roto-rootering of my ass (colonoscopy) yet. I'm waiting for the proctologist to text me and tell me I look pretty. Maybe take me out to dinner at Red Lobster.

travel - "When do you start running marathons with "the d"...? The next time a Kennedy lives in the White House. " sexy devil?" Let's work on this one lay down the crack pipe while I go update my profile photo. LOL!

kanga - "If you can manage to drop some pounds, it will help with the BP. I've been on meds for hypertension for years, but getting out of the "overweight" range on the BMI is the only non-medication thing that's really helped. Sucks, but there it is." Hey! I've got an idea! I'll start smoking again! That always kept me thin before! Just kidding. Actually, I know just exactly what I need to do to drop the pounds and lower the BP. And solve a lot of other problems too.

paintman - ???

smed - "And all this time I thought you were made of wood" No. I'm just happy to see you.

kristine - "Wow, you're a stud..." Thank you! Perhaps you and travel can carpool to the optometrist together. Apparently some lens upgrades are in order.

stink - Why do I feel like I just signed something in blood at the crossroads at midnight? LOL!

satyavati said...

Wow.. that was a more thorough report than I've gotten at many a shift change.

Your HDL is awesome, and I mean that sincerely.

Staying away from luncheon meats and all kinds of processed foods, and salt, will help your bp. Should I mention that some stress reduction will do wonders? But I think you already know that.

It's nice to see a guy interested in preventative health care. A lot of guys (mine included) are so in Superman Denial Mode that by the time they admit they need health care it's too late. So you've done a super job in heading any problems off at the pass.

I just hope you have really, really good insurance, because with all this work you're having done, you'll blow your retirement money on doctor bills! And I just bet your very cool MD isn't going to invite you along on that trip to the Riviera your colonoscopy paid for :)

Anyway, congrats. Finding out you're in good shape is a great holiday gift.

Joe said...

Make sure you get the camera. A guy I work with looked healthy and got the camera when he was 52. They found cancer and he got some intestine taken out. He's recovered now and back to work. Not a symptom to be had.
Don't be homophobic, get it done.

Xavier Onassis said...

joe - "A guy I work with looked healthy and got the camera when he was 52. They found cancer and he got some intestine taken out. He's recovered now and back to work. Not a symptom to be had."

I appreciate the concern. But Goddamn.

See, I'm 52 and there is nothing I can think of that would be worse than having some "intestine taken out" because that means shitting into a colostomy bag duct taped to your side for some period of time...between a day and forever.

Fuck that. That's circus freak shit.

I'd rather move straight to the "keep me comfortable / heavily sedated / hospice" stage.

Seriously. It's a quality of life issue for me.