Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A good end to the year

Five weeks ago today I saw the doctor to complain about how truly awful I was feeling, something I wrote about at the time. Since then, things have been pretty good, and today I had my final check-up of the year, and it was great.

What I complained about last month was the beta blocker they had me on, Atenolol, which was only slightly better than the one I had been taking, Metoprolol, which was truly awful. I felt exhauted much of the time, and very, very tired the rest. I was, as Nigel put it, like a zombie.

So, I went back to the doctor

When I first switched to Atenolol, I did feel better—but maybe that was just because Metoprolol had made me feel so bad. After nearly a couple months taking it, I’d settled into the “normal” with the drug, and it still left me profoundly tired most of the time. In talking over things with Nigel, I decided to go back to the doctor.

The doctor told me to reduce my dosage by cutting my pills in half (I already had a pill splitter), and then wait a month to see how I was doing.

So today I told the doctor (my usual one) that I still wasn’t sold on beta blockers, that I felt I was more tired than I think I should be, given my better health and increased physical activity. She said she wanted to wait a bit longer to see if things settle down, and I don’t feel bad enough to argue with that. She did say, though, that this drug is the older version of the one I was on, and that this drug is short-acting, whereas the other one was long-lasting, which I thought was interesting: Often at night I don’t feel as tired as I’d expect to, so maybe the drug’s at the centre of all that.

Beyond all that, I had some tests done, and those results were really good. As I said yesterday, the results of one test “likely excludes diabetes”. The reason this is significant, which I forgot to say yesterday, is that a long time ago, before I went on any medication and long before the stent, test results indicated that I was pre-diabetic. Now, that’s completely normal (well, still normal, actually, because it’s been that way for quite awhile now). The point is, the changes I’ve made, combined with the medication I’m on, brought me back from the brink.

The other test showed I have normal kidney function, which is a routine test because some of my drugs have a potential side effect of kidney damage. So far, so good. This test is repeated frequently.

The thing that shocked me, though, was that my blood pressure was bang on normal: 120/80. Considering how very high it once was, this is a dramatic improvement, especially because I was a little stressed by the trip to the doctor: Heavy traffic took me an extra half hour and made me a little late. And yet, my blood pressure didn’t show that. This is very good news, indeed.

However, the doctor is—under ideal circumstances—about an hour’s drive from home. That’s not too bad for a quarterly check-up, but what if I get sick? Driving an hour (or much more…) when I’m sick doesn’t seem like a great idea. That’ll be a project for the new year, as will a round of the more comprehensive blood tests, something I usually get done once or twice a year.

So, as this year winds down, my health is really good, my energy levels are better than they were a month ago (even if I still think that could be better), and I have a strong platform to build more improvements on. I think that’s a pretty awesome Christmas present to myself.

Important note: This post is about my own personal health journey. My experiences are my own, and shouldn’t be taken as indicative for anyone else. Similarly, other people may have completely different reactions to the same medications I take—better or worse. I share my experiences because others may have the same or similar experiences, and I want them to know that they’re not alone. But, as always, discuss your situation and how you’re feeling openly, honestly, and clearly with your own doctor, and always feel free to seek a second opinion from another doctor.

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