Difficult post to write.
As always, when the post is largely about myself, I carry on a little debate inside my head.
- Should I write this?
- Should I share what’s going on, no matter how personal?
- Is it okay to deviate from the main topic of this blog which is interior design?
- Will 5,000 people suddenly unsubscribe?
- What happens if I don’t share? Will I bite someone’s head off for asking me what color to paint their nursery? Incidentally, I recommend black or navy for a nursery.
However, every post I publish comes from what is currently living in my heart. And right now, it’s my heart that’s weighing heavily on my mind, so I figure it’s best to let it out.
Besides, we’re all connected in some way. In fact, I just read that at the most distant, we are 40th cousins of each other. Did you know that? I wonder how many great, great, great… grandparents that is?
And, maybe something here will help someone else. As a society, we tend to sweep our problems under the rug. We are afraid to admit a weakness– even ones that we have little if any control over.
The truth is– and some of you know, despite my efforts, I’m still not feeling too great most of the time.
I don’t like to go on and on about it, but this week, the test results came back and there were some things going on, I wasn’t expecting to hear.
I was doing so much better after starting a beta blocker about 16 months ago, but then it stopped working as well, gradually. But recently, I’ve had some horrible episodes of racing heart beats like one time quadruple its normal rate, just climbing three flights of stairs. And then, feeling exhausted like I had just run several miles. Plus, I’m frequently nauseous. And exercising makes it worse. Even my beloved ballet.
And yes, I know that I don’t look sick. But, not everything shows on the outside.
So, I went to my doctor who recommended that I see a cardiologist and recommended that I have a carotid artery test. Just to be certain that my heart rate issues aren’t something else.
After all, there’s the family history to consider. Always and forever..
The doctor that was recommended was booked for two months, so I went with the new guy cardiologist at the medical group, who has great reviews.
Dr. Cardio suggested that I go in for a cardiac calcium score. It’s a CT scan of the heart, arteries, etc. He told me that he was “very concerned” about my cholesterol and what it was doing to me. Yes, my bad cholesterol is high, but so is the good cholesterol. It’s hereditary. I could live on apples and my cholesterol would still be high.
I did take a statin for a few years, but after waking up a few times with what felt like being pierced with a red-hot poker in my calf, and then reading that statins are no good for you, I stopped.
The cholesterol test I had three weeks earlier wasn’t fasting and so he said that I needed to come in without eating. That didn’t thrill me as morning is a difficult time and not eating can make things worse, but fine. I’ll do it.
Somehow, I was able to schedule all three tests for this past Thursday.
Except Dr Cardio who had made a big stink about the cholesterol test forgot to call it in. (that one didn’t require an appointment.) And then, I had to argue briefly with Dr. Cardio’s nurse until she realized that this was a FASTING test and the previous test was not. But Dr. Cardio hadn’t even written the order in my chart.
I will not be going back to him.
The tests were all at the medical group, except for the calcium test which was a mile away, but something told me to go and see if my internist was available. And luckily, I was able to make an appointment and he already had the results of two of the tests. The cholesterol numbers had improved. Not fantastic, but better and my carotids looked good.
Fabulous! Just waiting on the calcium score.
Dr. Great who has taken good care of me for 15 years said, “Laurel, I don’t anticipate any issues with the calcium score.” After-all, I don’t have any of the normal risk factors such as being overweight, smoking, bad diet, etc.
However, Dr. Cardio called me up yesterday morning, while I was texting with dropbox because of a problem.
At first, I thought it was a technician as I didn’t catch the name and he was just rattling off information, but then when things came into focus, I heard him say that the calcium score was 239 and it’s supposed to be zero.
“You need to take a statin and a baby aspirin every day.”
And then after a brief discussion about all of that, he continued…
“They also saw some small nodules on your lungs less than 6 mm and they want you to come back for a follow-up in one year.” It’s probably inflammation. You’ve never smoked. I wouldn’t worry.”
WTF???????? My dear friend Elaine who never smoked freaking died of lung cancer and I’m not supposed to worry?
It’s only been a day and a half and yet it feels like a week.
Let’s begin with the high calcium score.
What is that?
It’s arteriosclerosis or as we used to say “hardening of the arteries.” Well, isn’t that just bloodytastic!
However, it could be worse. Dr. Cardio told me that he’s seen scores of 5,000 and higher. But they must have a bypass.
It does not mean that I have blocked arteries and I most likely don’t because I am not having any pain and my carotids look good. But it ups the risk factor for that happening. But, Dr. Cardio didn’t tell me that. Dr. Great did later on. And Dr. Great felt badly that he didn’t get to me first, because I think that he knew that Dr. Cardio is lacking in certain areas. But, the results went to Dr. C before they went to Dr. G.
I spoke to my first cousin a little while ago. Her cardio told her not to waste her time with that test because it doesn’t mean anything, in and of itself. And that is also what Dr. G said.
As for the nodules, most of the time, they don’t mean anything either. However, since my BFF died of lung cancer, can I say that I wasn’t just a tad freaked out at hearing anything was amiss.
However, Dr. Great told me that it could just be inflammation or the after effects of pneumonia, bronchitis, both of which I’ve had. Or, it might be nothing at all. But instead of waiting a year, let’s take a look in 4-6 months.
I think that I should take my tests and see the cardio I saw in the summer of 2017, because I’m definitely not feeling satisfied that all I have to do is take a statin and a baby aspirin and then come back in four months for another dose of radiation.
What irks me about doctors is that there is no discussion about how to stop the calcification of the arteries. To be clear, high cholesterol is not the same issue. But having both could be a problem. I stopped taking calcium supplements a while back because of the controversy. Same thing with the statins.
But, I googled it and found that vitamin K2 is supposed to be able to stop and maybe even reverse that from happening and keep the calcium where it’s supposed to be– in the bones and teeth.
I don’t recall ever hearing anything about vitamin K2. Vitamin D, yes, but apparently, one is supposed to take them together.
In fact, I read on this website that vitamin K2 is good for preventing the following maladies:
Now, here’s where it gets super interesting. In my research, I found out the foods rich in Vitamin K2. By the way, K1 is also good for you, but is found in dark leafy vegetables and other foods. However, K1 has not been shown to do anything for arteriosclerosis.
Below is a list of foods and in the order of how much K2 they provide from least to most:
Ghee, I learned is a kind of clarified butter
And Emu oil is from a flightless bird, native to Australia.
Okay, great. My arteries will be nice and elastic but will be filled with lard. lol
So, how come I’ve never heard of this magic vitamin? And how come nobody told me that along with my vitamin D3 that I needed to take K2?
Of course, it might all be hokum, but I have to admit that I could very much get into eating a nice spicy/sweet pumpkin pie with a flaky lard crust and a huge mound of fresh home-made whipped cream. I could easily eat that three times a day, if necessary.
And for an in between meal snack, I’ll feast on pâté de foie gras – extra heavy on the duck fat please.
Really, I’m joking. About, the food that is.
I should check with my doctor as it is a coagulant and the baby aspirin is an anti-coagulant. But, the vitamin K2 sounds like something quite beneficial.
What I’m wondering since the maladies that vitamin K is good for are common. Does anyone take it and if so, has it helped you?
All of this has brought up memories of my family members who had cardiovascular disease. And, particularly my grandmother who died days before her 69th birthday which was days after my 14th birthday. She was the most delightful, sunny woman with flaming red hair. Very elegant.
But, in her later years, she hardly ever left her apartment. My grandfather did all of the shopping. And now, I think I might know how she was feeling.
In the meantime, I’m feeling a lot better today. The doctor prescribed more of the beta blocker in the evening which has made a big difference. I even went to my ballet class and took a barre this morning and didn’t get at all sick!
Exercise is so important and not being able to exercise makes everything worse. Exercise intolerance is a real thing. It’s not being lazy. It’s getting sick as a result of exercising.
Eileen Lonergan (miss her so much) had sent me many beautiful images on Pinterest and this one, in case I needed a body for my head, one day. Thank you for the suggestion. Don’t mind if I do.
Some people drink when they are stressed. I put my face on old portraits. It makes me smile and laugh. And I get to live in somebody elses body for a time.
You should try it! I feel so much better in my pretty blue party dress and for getting all of that out.
Thanks for listening. Your turn. And please feel free to share what ails you!
But… First a few requests, if I may.
I did not write this to garner sympathy. I wrote it because I feel quite alone which might sound funny, but it’s true. You guys are like my family. And I wrote it because there’s information that might be helpful to some, or not. And maybe someone has experience that can be helpful for others.
However, I am respectfully asking some of you to refrain from talking about diets– particularly the paleo diet which is triggering for me because of the death of two friends who were on it.
Ya know… Cave men rarely lived to see age 40. Why would anyone want to eat their diet? I’m hoping that we’ve evolved quite a bit in the last 30,000 years. However, if you’re on it, and it’s working for you, that’s wonderful.
Love to all,
PPS: It is 11:35 AM here Sunday morning, in New York and I slept in which feels good. I am overwhelmed with the number of responses, but more so, the immense kindness of so many people. I promise that I am reading every one and I am only publishing after reading. Sorry, if I can’t answer every one. I want to and if I don’t, it doesn’t mean your comment is of lesser value. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting this at all. I think I learned at an early age not to expect much of anything and over the years, the point was driven home repeatedly.
I’m immensely grateful to all of you for your well-wishes, sage words and messages of comfort. No matter what, each of you is a blessing I never believed was possible. Thank you for proving me wrong again and again! I love you all!!!
PPS: It is nearly 24 hours since I published this and I’m definitely feeling the love. Can’t tell you how much it means to me.
Thank you to all who’ve taken the time for your wonderful well-wishes and advice. I have taken notes on the things that I think pertain to my particular situation.
However, I need more rest, so I am turning off the comments on this post.
PPS: January 5th 2019. Thank you to the many who have responded. Please, I know that you all mean well, but I turned off the comments for a reason. And yet, I am still receiving long-winded emails with advice that quite frankly, not knowing me and the specifics of my situation is like me trying to solve your decorating problems without seeing your space.
However, please know that I am doing much better on my new medication regimen and have been taking a strenuous ballet barre three times a week. Thus, I’m gaining my old strength back and over-all feeling better.
In addition, I have two appointments scheduled with two highly recommended cardiologists. Therefore, what I’m trying to say is… please no more advice; not even if you are a health-care practitioner of some sort. Thank you.