Off the Cuff

I’m writing about me again. I know, it’s my favorite subject, innit?

My surgery scheduled for last Friday didn’t go off. My blood pressure was 231/131 during the prep. “Too high,” they decreed. “Let’s wait and check again.”

I was checked on the left and right sides several more times. Everything was documented. The BP didn’t go down. No surgery with that level, it was decided.

It was depressing. I hadn’t eaten for ten hours plus, and I was all naked and everything. Instead, I was referred to a nurse practitioner for treatment. NORVASC was prescribed. I began taking it that night.

Meanwhile, my wife and I started a three-day green-smoothie fast. We’ve done it several times, usually to help her cope with complications, inflammation, or pain arising from her RA. This time, it was for both of us.

Weird, I felt fine. The NP listened to my lungs and heart and various arteries last Friday and found nothing to upset them. I don’t have any issues. I generally walk eight to ten miles a day. As my wife put it to the medical staff, “He’s very active.” I’d quit smoking ten years ago and I’d never been a heavy smoker. BP issues don’t run in the family. Honestly, though, my weight is higher than I desire. I’d slowly been creeping up toward the mid 190s, and I ‘ve developed a wheat/beer belly that bugs me. It’d be nice to rid myself of that adornment.

Two days later, I wondered if there was any change to my BP with the smoothies fast and meds.  Needing data, I bought a monitoring cuff on Tuesday and started tracking my BP. Naturally a spread sheet was employed.

Date Time Sys Dia HR Comments
15-Aug 8:27 119 78 68 After being up ninety minutes
14-Aug 22:01 125 59 65 Before NORVASC
14-Aug 7:47 149 71 75 After being up forty-five minutes
13-Aug 23:20 137 70 63 1 HR after NORVASC taken
13-Aug 19:27 149 68 69 First reading
Average 145 70 69

I was surprised by how much my BP had dropped in such a short time, especially this morning’s reading, 119/78. Makes me wonder if my high BP prior to surgery was due to white coat syndrome.

I don’t know. Some blood work is scheduled for next week to see if a root cause can be ferreted out. Meanwhile, I question the purchased cuff’s accuracy or if I’m using it wrong. We also tested my wife, though, as a baseline. With an ongoing chronic condition, she sees a doctor and has her BP checked every other month. She knows her usual BP range. The cuff’s BP had a result that she expected. We tested it twice. Both were in her normal range. I remain dubious.

I’ll probably go to the drug store later and use their cuff and compare it to my results. I’ll probably post about it later.

I am my favorite subject.

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For Her

The house was always silent except for his quiet and her cats. He was aware of how much he sighed, and the cats…the cats were always darting underfoot, jumping up onto the furniture, counters, and tables, and peering around corners.

Flowers and plants were everywhere. He’d told everyone to send money to her causes in lieu of flowers and that shit, but…well, here they were. Here he was.

She was always trying to get him to eat healthy. The ‘frig was lousy with salmon and salad ingredients. Sighing (but what else?), he prepared the salmon per the instructions, sharing some with the cats, who were enthusiastic in their enjoyment, and made a salmon Caesar salad and poured a glass of wine for himself. Eating, he told himself, for her, chewing and swallowing the despised flavors, washing it down with wine.

For her.

The Medical Bill

My latest medical bill arrived. This was a follow-up to the doctor’s office. On that day, I was weighed and then peed in a cup connected to a computer to measure my flow and output. Then a nurse asked me some questions about how I was doing, before the doctor came in, read the reports, and made some follow-up actions. Including waiting — they were overbooked and I waited twenty minutes to see him — peeing, and talking, I was out of there in about forty minutes.

Before going further, I want to say that I’m amazed and grateful that my military retirement gives me health benefits. I can’t say that enough. That’s not what this is about. This is about a neophyte in the healthcare’s billing process.

The bill began as a total of $277.10. That’s not bad, I thought. Insurance covered $59.36. Cool. Then, total adjustments and discounts were $180.84. Of that, $4.10 was a discount given to me for the prompt payment of previous bills. The other $176.74 was an insurance adjustment. The total due for me to pay is $36.90.

I’m not complaining so much as stating my surprise and confusion. What in the world is that insurance adjustment that reduces the bill by sixty-three percent? Is it a volume thing between Tricare and Asante? Makes me wonder about the original bill and its legitimacy.

I don’t know. The discount wasn’t explained. I suppose I could do an Internet search, but, well, I’d rather just note it and press on, at least for today.

Floofamine

Floofamine (floofinition) – a catecholamine neurotransmitter in human’s central nervous system acting within the brain to help regulate movement and emotion when dealing with pets.

In use: “Floofologists who study psychological disorders have long been interested in how floofamine works and how relatively high or low levels in the brain relate to behavioral changes when people are interacting with their housepets.”

 

Beetroot Juice Insights

My wife pursues an eternal quest to improve our health. Frequent new food stuffs are introduced to the home. I usually try them to observe what impact they seem to have on me as well as how they taste.

Not all work out. Our pantry has a shelf of forgotten foods and drinks that neither of us adopted as part of our normal diet habits. I think one jar is marked “Best By Oct 2003”. We can’t bring ourselves to throw it out. We’re just too sentimental.

Today, I give you beetroot juice.

Beet juice, according to WebMD, is supposed to be terrifically healthy. Well, juice from the root is supposed to be even better, a superfood that will amaze you.

Okay, we said, buying some from our local heath food store. Amaze us.

It comes in a fine, whitish powder form, like chalk. Adding the desired amount to a glass of water and stirring gives you a red drink that looks like cherry Kool-Aid.

It don’t taste like cherry Kool-Aid.

It tastes like beets. That’s not a problem, if you like eating soiled old socks. I know that I probably seem old-fashioned, but I take exception to the taste of socks in my mouth.

But holy-moly, the beetroot juice has a kick. 

The first time that I drank it, it was like I’d been injected with niacin. I felt flushed and hot. Every pore was utilized to let the sweat burst out of me. I drank it late in the evening. That wasn’t a good idea; I then had too much energy to sleep, as if I’d had a quint-shot mocha right before going to bed.

We’ve learned that this isn’t an uncommon reaction. Besides that, we discovered that our beetroot drinking should not be done around the same time as our coffee drinking. Some people suggested drinking beetroot instead of coffee. Oh, how we laughed as we plotted on how to eliminate people making such cruel suggestions.

The coffee wasn’t given up. I moved my beetroot drinking to the late afternoon. My reaction isn’t as severe as that first venture, but let me tell you, it’s like my brain has been vacuumed clean and my senses have been blown out. My thinking and memory both seem sharper. My creativity level seems to have been kicked to another level, too.

I’m more ambivalent about its impact on my dreams. I already dreamed and remembered my dreams (or imagined that I did), and this beetroot juice seems to have me dreaming with my clarity and remembering them with more details.

It could be a coincidence, but my writing output jumped after I started drinking the beetroot juice. I typically typed about twelve to fifteen hundred words a day. Now I’m typing twenty-five hundred to thirty-five hundred a day. I’m typing an extra half hour because I just don’t want to stop. That’s a significant difference over a ten day period.

It also helped my walking output. I’d been riding a streak of sixty miles per week the day that I began drinking the beetroot juice. I frankly didn’t think I’d be able to sustain it for another week, which was a bummer. But the beetroot juice revitalized me, so I’ve now gone six weeks averaging sixty miles a week.

The one drawback that I’ve noticed is that the beetroot juice doesn’t go with other foods, especially anything sweet, and especially bananas. I swear, I’ll never eat a banana and drink beetroot juice again.

Bank on that. 

Self-evident

It’s humbling to think about how little I know, and disturbing to ponder how much I’ve learned and forgotten, or how often I learned, retained, and applied wrong information.

The information was sometimes wrong because we thought that’s how things worked back when we learned it. Then, later, you discovered, “Oh, shit, that works for everyone else, but it doesn’t work for me.”

Yes, this is another Big Lie rant. The Big Lie is that we’re all the same. Eat these foods, gain these nutrients, do these exercises, and you should be good to go.

Yeah, they then admit — you know they, the great aggregate of society, social media, medical professions, governments, you know, they — well, they admit, there are some exceptions. Like, you may be diabetic because your body rejects the insulin it makes. So you’re like, whaat?

Maybe you’re allergic to things. Or you may have problems because your body doesn’t process certain vitamins and minerals well, rejecting them. Maybe you hear things different. Perhaps you hear shapes, or you taste something because you hear a sound.

Whacked, right?

I grew up learning that people that talked to themselves were most likely not right in the head in some way. Now we’ve learned, no, they’re probably fine. Their personality is different from your personality. Conversely, telling me to come out of my shell and socialize more works on the assumption that I’ve made a choice to stay in my shell and not socialize, and not because of the components at work inside me.

Not all people we called slow were slow thinkers, but they didn’t benefit from the learning environment. Too bad for them, back then, because we didn’t know.

We keep learning that there’s a lot that we don’t know, and that what we thought we knew and pushed as truth was wrong. This was sometimes done deliberately to further someone’s wealth — remember how they told us for years that smoking cigarettes aren’t bad? — or to achieve a political advantage.

That takes me to food shopping. Oh, lawdy. I’ve decided to cut down on processed foods and reduce my sugar intake, so I’m reading labels more intently than before. A correlation often exists; if a food is low-fat or non-fat, it’ll be loaded with sugar. If it’s sugar-free, it has a lot of fat.

They say — now — that supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals probably doesn’t do anything for you, if you’re healthy. You really can’t tell that from the advertising and commercials that abound, can you?

If you’re not healthy, too much of one mineral or vitamin can cause greater problems. All this comes with that caveat, for some people. You need to learn early that you may be some people. You learn by observing your body and reactions to different inputs, studying those differences, and consulting experts when necessary.

And these deficiencies can have profound effects. Constipated, tired, and depressed? You might have a potassium deficiency. Or something else. Just saying.

Consulting experts — or the Internet — doesn’t always work out. Some experts dismiss study results. Reasons vary for why they dismiss the results, or skew them. It could be from ignorance, religion, or false information that they acquired. It could be because they’re being paid to dismiss the evidence, or they’re pathological liars, or protecting someone or something else. This spectrum about why is as broad as humanity.

Even when you find your flaws and shortcomings and address your patterns to cope, it ain’t over. Your body and brain, and our society, are dynamic. Our body is changing, sometimes from aging, sometimes from abuse. Sometimes, it’s just a slow shift because of habits.

As a society, we’re always learning new information, or revealing old frauds, or finding something new about the human body. Our food security gets exposed in unimaginable ways. Consider from this week:

Cocaine in shrimp

Cocaine in salmon

Blood absorbs sunscreens

In each case, these findings surprised scientists and investigators because it wasn’t expected. The sunscreen lotions were most interesting to me. They’ve been around back to a time before governments, industries, or individuals worried about the active ingredients in sunscreens, so they were never tested. That was partly propagated by the good ol’ common sense approach that sunscreen is rubbed on your skin; how the heck would it get into your blood? (That’s typically followed by mocking chortles because doesn’t that seem so self-evident?)

Yeah, there’s a lot that isn’t self-evident, isn’t there?

May I Continue?

Well, writers, musicians, artists, poets, essayists, and novelists, we made it to May. Sometimes, in Feb. and March, May seemed like an impossible goal. But we kept going, didn’t we? Sure, there were a few stumbles. New bruises and injuries were acquired, but here we are again.

March and April were good, and not good for me. That’s how life often seems, though, doesn’t it? One area is going great and another area collapses like a calving glacier. My setbacks were in health. First, there was a long time where I had a severe cold. It seemed to be touring my body. Just when I thought it’d done it’s farewell show, the tour would begin again.

Next, whatever steers these things enlarged my prostate and shut down my bladder. It wasn’t a joyous experience but I survived. I’m fortunate to be financially comfortable and have health insurance. Besides being painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient for a while, the issues meant that coffee, caffeine, chocolates and alcohol needed to be sliced back. I allow myself one cup of coffee a day. Drinking it centers around my writing. I used to drink a glass of red wine each night; no more. I haven’t had chocolate in weeks. I still have a beer once or twice a week. I last had one a week ago. I going back to the doctor in a month to see if surgery is required, or what.

Many writing days were lost in March and April. I’m surprised to discover that the novel I began writing in January is eighty-eight thousand words, three hundred forty-five Word pages, and almost finished. I thought, how did that happen? I guess it demonstrates the power of just sitting down and pushing. I didn’t write for five straight days in March, although I tried. I stopped posting my goofy little things for a few days, too.

When I read the work-in-progress that I’ve written, I enjoy it. Then I read someone else’s novel and fall into dejection because my novel is a piece of crap in comparison. Then I read my work-in-progress again, and think, no, this works.  It reminds me of George Jetson. Know him? He’s a fictional character in the animated cartoon series, The Jetsons. When the show ends and the credits run, George is walking the dog on a conveyor belt. The cat jumps on, and the dog begins chasing the cat. As the belt goes faster and faster, George falls down, and the cat and dog jump off to watch as George haplessly goes round and round, shouting, “Help. Jane, get me off this crazy thing.”

That’s how I sometimes feel with my writing efforts.

My exercise practices took a hit with my illnesses. Some days, my walking dropped to two and a half weary miles a day. Weekly totals plummeted to thirty-two miles. I gained eight pounds.

I’ve lost five of those pounds. The weekly totals of miles per week are back up into the mid-fifties. I recorded ten miles yesterday for the first time since the end of February. So, I’m making progress, and will cling to that.

That’s my recap. I hope you guys are all doing well, making progress, and not going insane or becoming depressed. Thanks for reading.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Cheers

 

Floophet

Floophet (floofinition) – a housepet gifted with abilities to foretell the future.

In use: “The Dalmatian floophet always knew someone had arrived before others, and divined if they were a stranger before they reached the door, announcing the differences with unique barks, but she also knew when someone was becoming sick, even before they knew, immediately comforting and treating them with gentle tongue licks and a constant presence.”

Dandelions

I was eating some dandelions the other day. It wasn’t quite a whim. It’d begun with yard work.

We have lawns. We don’t pesticides or fertilizers on them, except some fertilizer from our compost barrels. We compost a lot of kitchen waste.

I used to pull the weeds from my lawn. We stopped doing that as we read about the bee decline and witnessed how the bees enjoyed our dandelions. Butterflies, too. But, for fire reasons, we cut the grass back to four inches high. That height also protects the roots so watering the lawn isn’t required often. In the even of drought or water shortages, of course, the first thing I do to save water is to stop watering the grass.

While I was doing the back yard cutting the other day, I was taking stock of all the dandelions we had. I knew that people used to eat dandelions as part of a basic diet and wondered about dandelions’ health impact and their taste. To the Google! Sites claim that dandelions are tremendously healthy. Here’s an excerpt from Nutrition-and-You.com:

  • Certain chemical compounds in fresh dandelion greens, flower tops, and roots are known to have antioxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
  • Fresh dandelion leaves carry 10,161 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g (about 338% of daily recommended intake), one of the highest source of vitamin-A among culinary herbs. Vitamin-A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant, required for maintaining healthy mucosa and skin.
  • Its leaves packed with numerous health benefiting flavonoids such as carotene-ß, carotene-α, lutein, cryptoxanthin, and zeaxanthin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) help the human body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Zeaxanthin supposed to possess photo-filtering functions and therefore, may help protect the retina from harmful UV rays.
  • The herb is an ideal source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production.The human body uses manganese as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin-E and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Dandelion greens provide 58% of daily recommended levels of vitamin-C.
  • Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin-K; provides about 650% of DRI. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone strengthening by promoting osteoblastic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

Sounds impressive. Curious about how they taste, I went out in the morning, harvested some fresh dandelions from the yard, and chowed down on the raw leaves and flowers.

Turns out that they taste like mildly-bitter Romaine lettuce to me. Super, I thought. I liked being able to eat it because. It’s a great added bonus to helping the bees, and it helps reduce our yard waste. I guess I have a new pastime this year, harvesting dandelions and trying new recipes. Bet they’d be pretty tasty on a grilled pizza.

I’ll let you know.

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