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Archive for the ‘High Cholesterol’ Category

…both for blogging and for other things!

Life has been a bit crazy lately, and since hubby and I are playing a new game most of my downtime has been exploring exotic lands and fighting strange creatures (fun *and* cathartic!). I did want to make an update, though, on my most recent doctor’s visit.

Good news: waist circumference is down

Eh news: I am still gaining and losing the same five pounds

Bad news: my cholesterol spiked *way* up

Not sure why, especially since it has been going down somewhat previously. Also, my blood pressure (which is usually on the low side of good) is creeping up, so I’m focusing on cholesterol and sodium to see if I can determine what changed. Last time my sodium was high my ankles swelled up. My left ankle has been a bit swollen, but I honestly thought that I was doing better than this. I am still off-and-on with Trendy Health Management Company, but unfortunately their tracking system isn’t customizable, so now I’m keeping a digital spreadsheet in addition to tracking on their website for effectively double the effort. I’m not super-pleased with this, and am dallying with the thought of letting my membership lapse (again). No decision made yet, though.

I do need to get into a regular schedule with the treadmill. I received the replacement part and installed it myself (yay me!) and it is now fully functioning again. Yesterday was a major grocery store haul and housework, but I plan to hop on the treadmill today and hopefully make that a regular thing again.

I had a funny encounter picking up a sandwich for lunch today- the woman at the register admired my medical bracelet and bemoaned the fact that she has friends with serious allergies who don’t wear one. I talked about the company I use (Medic Alert) and she liked the more fashionable look, so hopefully she can talk her friends into some “useful bling”.

Overall, my health has been fairly good. I was hit with my first serious migraine in a while last week and left work early when I started to see trails. Again, I’m not sure what the trigger was, other than a poor night’s sleep, stiff neck, and heavy air pressure from storms moving through (granted, some days all it takes is just one of those, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised…)

I have an appointment coming up with my endo in couple weeks and I’m hoping that everything is okay there… sort of. I’ve run into this before, when there is a general malaise or odd things are acting up and I don’t know why, and I kind of hope that I could blame it on my thyroid levels being off because that’s a clear explanation and an easy thing to adjust. Sadly/thankfully, that’s rarely the case.

I’m working on a separate post about recent advocate activities- I really need to work on documenting better. I kick myself for not being more involved, and then realise that I’ve actually been involved in three or four separate events in the past month. Go, me?

I also realised that I didn’t actually talk about motivation yet, have I? I’m trying to find a goal or reward for sticking with tracking until my next physical in a couple months, and I have been drooling over a camping hammock. I really miss camping, but sleeping on the ground is pretty much off my radar at this point, even with an inflatable mattress. I have heard really positive things about hammock camping from others with back or hip pain. I was thinking of gifting myself one for my birthday, but if I can keep up on my tracking until my next appointment (and see an improvement in cholesterol/weight), I might make that my reward. I always have a tough time finding a reward that I want enough to maintain motivation, but this might be it. (Plus, once I have it, maybe I can talk hubby into another camping trip!) Obviously. losing some weight will make the hammock more comfortable as well.

(This is another reason that I might ditch Trendy Health Management Company- I have a hard time finding other folks in the community with my interests, to say the least.)

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So, occasionally, especially when I’m tired, I have tremors in my hands. This is just another one of those random things that comes with my set of issues, and I’m sure not how seriously to take it. I keep forgetting to bring it up with my rheumatologist, because it is infrequent and mild when it occurs. At the same time, it is disturbing, but I can’t think of anything that would prevent it (other than to avoid any form of physical exertion- not bloody likely).

I have also noticed that I start a lot of posts with “So”. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but as long as I don’t do it more than once in a post I think I’ll be ok.

My doctor started me on 1200 mg of red yeast rice twice a day. After a few days of adjustment it’s now just two more pills twice a day. If it helps my cholesterol, then fantastic. I am trying to cut back the last few goodies that I really shouldn’t eat (without completely depriving myself) and getting back into eating a salad every day. I have lost a few pounds, so something is working right. This is great since I’m still not able to exercise, but it’s not much fun, heh.

I finally broke down and ordered a heated footrest for my desk at home. This protracted cold weather and my awful circulation gives me icy legs and feet, and it’s hard for me to get to sleep until I warm up. I’m curious to see how well it works, since it’s an “As Seen on TV!” thing, but it’s not super-expensive, and if it works even a little bit it will be a huge improvement. It’s adjustable, so it will replace my current ergonomic footrest, and has two heat settings that you can swap by pressing a button with your toe (we’ll see how well that works). There are slipper-like pockets for your toes, which looks fairly brilliant in my opinion. My only fear is that I will never be able to use it because there will always be a cat sleeping on it! I will certainly post a review once I test it out.

Image from We Heart It

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Incredibly frustrated with doctors and diagnoses today. I finally got my lab results and am having one of those moments when what one doctor thinks is fine would probably upset one of my other doctors. Also, my doctors do not seem to be communicating with each other particularly well at the moment, so I am trying to pass info back and forth and feel like the little kid trying to mediate between cranky grown-ups. All this on top of filling out reams of paperwork for my new doctor before my appointment Monday, and just being tired and frustrated with doctors and tests in general. My cholesterol is still through the roof, and while I could be doing more to manage it, I’m almost getting to the point that I want to say “just give me the damn pill” and get it over with. I can’t diet too much more than I already am, and my body just isn’t letting me exercise. I’m so frustrated I could cry.

On top of all this I am questioning the insides of my head again. I’ve now had a second doctor offer me something to help me rest. I’m very resistant to treating my sleep issues with prescriptions. My hypothyroidism messes up my sleep. The medication I take for my hypothyroidism messes up my sleep. My RA messes up my sleep. The medication I take for my RA messes up my sleep. See the conflict here? Plus, I have a family member who became dependent on sleep aids in order to sleep at all, and I’m afraid of going that route. At the same time, having a few restful nights of sleep would probably help all of my issues enormously. I keep hoping that getting other things under control will help me rest better, but I’m not sure that I can wait indefinitely for this to resolve itself. I already follow a number of guidlines to help minimize insomnia which do help, but even when I do sleep I wake up exhausted.

I am just having a cranky, frustrating day. In good news, my pain is much more manageable than it has been the last few days. In bad news the nosebleeds are back and I’m off the nasal spray for two more weeks. It is cold again and I am tired. Really looking forward to seeing my friends this weekend- I need the downtime.

Image from We Heart It.

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Right now, there isn’t a whole lot of it for the usual, obvious reasons, but I’m trying to change that.

After a couple rough weeks and some regression as far as inflammation is concerned, I am reassessing my exercise goals and slowly restarting. Right now, I am doing one hour a week with my trainer doing Qigong for balance and stretching, and light weights to build strength and control. Incredibly, I have started to work with my first kettlebell! It’s only 15 lbs. and the handle is too small for my paws, but it’s more than I ever expected to be working with, so that’s pretty exciting. My trainer is a good friend who recently completed her certification and is focusing on women’s fitness, so this is a learning experience for both of us. The weight training is good for strengthening the muscles around my joints and pain management, and I definitely have more “good days” the weeks when I work out than when I don’t (although that can be hard to remember when I’m exhausted and trying to get on a treadmill). Right now I can only afford one session a week (cost in both money and energy is high) but I always feel better for doing it- I *know* that I’m doing something good for my body.

The other half of my (sparse) exercise regimen is one day of cardio a week. Right now that’s 20+ minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph or higher. Not much, I know, but I was walking 5ks last year and and I want to build back up to that. I know that I need to do more, but I also don’t want to try and do everything at once and hurt myself or burn out, so I am focusing on these two areas for now.

I also need to get back on track with what I eat. In the past I have done Weight Watchers and SparkPeople with varying levels of success. While both programs are excellent for different reasons, between food allergies, high cholesterol, anemia and lactose intolerance, there’s more that I need to track than is included in most online tools. I tried The Hackers Diet recently (being a geek by nature and trade) but have to confess that I have fallen off updating my spreadsheets. I will get back to this in the near future, but for now I’m focusing on small steps starting with tracking how many servings of water I have every day on a calendar and my daily weight each morning. Keeping hydrated helps with my inflammation and joint pain, and it’s an easy change to get back into. Once it becomes a habit again then I’ll make further changes.

Ideally I’d like to add a second cardio session and an hour of yoga into my week, plus track food again. It’s amazing how easily a few bad days (or a couple holidays) can derail a maintenance schedule. I still have that early morning hour that looks like it would be great for yoga, but I’m still slowly adjusting to staying awake at that time rather than crawling back into bed.¬† I am sitting on my exercise ball again in the mornings, which is good for my back and provides inadvertant stretching in the morning to help get some of the kinks out. It really makes me realise how much I could be doing and haven’t been- no wonder my weight has gone up.

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And in this case, those “little things” are my vitamins.

I take my vitamins in the middle of the day so they do not counteract the thyroid medication that I take first thing in the morning. I have gotten pretty good about my pill schedule (I take various medications and vitamins four times a day) but every once in a while I forget to refill my pill case. Like this weekend. So I do not have my lunchtime vitamins today.

“How important can some OTC vitamins possibly be?” Well, there’s nothing like not having them to remind me. I take a regular multivitamin, and a calcium+d to help compensate for my lactose intolerance and just generally not getting enough d. (Most doctors recommend extra calcium for women of pretty much all ages.) I take a flax or fish oil caplet to help out my cholesterol, an iron supplement for my anemia, and a b complex which helps with my thyroid dysfunction and general afternoon fatigue. The last two are especially important to my ability to function, and I’m really feeling their lack right now.

I would chalk this up to psychological factors, except it’s happened before when I didn’t realise I had forgotten my vitamins and felt pretty awful; it’s been a bit too regular to just discount. Since I started taking lunchtime vitamins my afternoon fatigue has improved considerably, without resorting to caffeine or sweets to keep me going. Unfortunately, I’m so knackered right now I’m not sure I could even drive home. I’m going to see if I can scrounge a vitamin water to help me get through the end of the day and possible head home early.

And I’ll be sure to fill my pill case.

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So, I heard back from my GP on my last round of tests, and the new treatment is definitely reducing my inflammation as far as my RA is concerned. I know that I have been having less joint pain, but there is something comforting about the doctor seeing numbers so it’s not only my subjective reporting. Unfortunately, at the time I went in I was experiencing some fierce allergies and felt as if it was moving up into my sinuses. My doctor assured me it was just allergies, but two days later he put me on antibiotics because, sure enough, sinus infection. And, of course, there are the side effect from the antibiotics. Bah. Things are slowly clearing up, but I will be very glad to be past all this.

Another item that came out of these last tests is that yes, my cholesterol is still high. It has been for several years and one of my medications ups my cholesterol level, but now that the big issues are mostly stable we’re trying to get this under control as well. This has caused me no small amount of angst, since I already deal with several dietary restrictions, so it is very hard to determine where else to cut back or swap out. Dairy? Very little and only low-fat/no-fat, I’m lactose intolerant. Lots of red meats? Nope- I gave my red meat a very long time ago. Omega-3’s? I’ve been taking a daily flax oil for months now. So, I’m trying to be even more conscious of what I eat and the Omega-3’s will be taken with every meal, and trying to get a bit more regular about my cardio.

We also discovered that my triglycerides are extremely high as well. Woo! A new thing to research! Until I discovered that triglycerides are in carbs. All those¬† dietary restrictions above? Means that carbs are one of my few comfort foods. I already focus on whole grains as much as possible and don’t eat much rice or pasta, so this is particularly stressful food-wise. This stress apparently was lurking around my subconscious last night, because I dreamed that the doctor told me to give up SODA. Considering I have only have one soda a day and it is my main treat, I rushed to the computer this morning to check my e-mail to make sure it wasn’t true. Really, if I had to cut back my caffeine any more (essentially giving it up) I would be a very sad panda. Maybe my subconscious was trying to put cutting back on carbs in perspective?

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