Heart Health Update

  • In here, I've talked about my visits to Dr. Krall, the primary care doctor who monitors my blood work every three months. Yesterday, I arrived to her office for fasting blood work, and her assistant had me step on the scale, and took my blood pressure. I'd lost 7 pounds since renewing my effort to attend the gym at least three or four times a week. Always low, yesterday my blood pressure was even lower: 86/60. Usually it's 110/70 or 96/70. That's how it's been for the last ten years.


    Dr. Krall suggested my medications could be the culprit, and she called in another assistant to give me the ANSAR test. I held wires in my left hand and she had me breathe in, hold my breath for fifteen seconds, and breathe out for five seconds, while the machine automatically measured my blood pressure. The cuff on my left arm inflated twice during the test.

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    The wrap-up: everything's fine, except, Dr. Krall said, "You need to drink a glass of water every hour." She'd told me this a year ago, and lately I'd been slacking off. Truly, we are human, not machines, and our health is subtly calibrated to the chemicals in our body, and the fluids we take in. Dr. Krall wants me to up the Co-enzyme Q10 from 50 mg to 100 mg per day until I see her next in two months. Somehow, that's also supposed to adjust my blood pressure.


    As I write this on a Friday, I'm waiting for her to call with the results of the blood work, and I'll add a post script to this blog entry when I hear the results. I'm certain they can only be good, because I've been exercising, reduced how much I eat, and cut back on those occasional unhealthful snacks. Three months ago, faced with the grim truth that I'm at elevated risk for heart disease, I changed my tune.


    In: going to the gym at least three days a week, and adding cardio routines to jump-start the weight loss.

    Out: going to the gym only when I feel like it. It truly is "mind over matter."

    In: treating myself to a brownie or ice cream once every two or three months.

    Out: snacking as much as I used to.


    Ladies, it's true: when you turn 40, your metabolism automatically slows. In April, I turn 43, and for the past three years, it was "business as usual," but now I've gotten wise. You really can't eat as much as you did when you were in your twenties or thirties, and you have to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle. This sounds preachy; however, I can attest to the benefits of doing the right thing instead of doing what you feel like doing.


    In the early years of my recovery, I did what it took to stay healthy, and resisted the pull to be in relationships that were harmful. It would've been easier to pull the covers over my head and act like nothing was wrong and I could continue the way things were before I got sick. Oh, I had hoped against hope I could go back in time to my glory years, and so I instituted the drug holiday that ultimately failed. What keeps me going now is that I decided to turn things inside-out: be open and honest about what happened to me. No longer in denial, I write this blog because there is real hope today for people living with schizophrenia.


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    As it nears two o'clock, let me go sign off so I can take a shower and prepare to go to the gym. Oh, the phone rang. It was Dr. Krall: my cholesterol, sugar, kidney, liver and thyroid are fine. The HDL cholesterol has improved but isn't at an optimal level yet. My c-reactive protein has gotten better, yet also isn't where it should be. The prescription? "Continue to exercise."


    That sounds heartless. When is good enough ever good enough? For some reason, I could possibly always be at risk for heart disease, as are a lot of people who have schizophrenia. What choice do I have except to press on? Today I will break a sweat.

Published On: March 21, 2008