Monday, December 31, 2018

My year in health

My Health Journey this year has certainly been, um, varied. While I don’t do “my year in review” posts (because this blog has details of my year that I’d talk about anyway), I think I can make an exception for this subject because it changes so much, and often so fast. So, this is an update on where things stand in my Health Journey at the end of the year; that’ll make it easier for me to check progress at the end of next year.

In my last update, at the end of November, I talked about how I’d discovered the true cause of the gout attack I’d been experiencing. Against that background was my constant battle with fatigue. Both of those now have updates.

I recently began taking tart cherry capsules again, something that had been part of my gout prevention strategy for years. When I started, it was out of desperation, I’ll admit: The prudent thing would have been to check with the chemist first to make sure there’d be no interactions, but the gout attack was going on so long, I decided to use it anyway, with a “it’s just cherries” attitude, and the rationalisation that “if I wasn’t meant to have any cherries, they would have told me, like they told me to avoid grapefruit.”

Whether that was wise or even mildly sensible is kind of beside the point: I did it. More importantly, it DID help—just not completely.

So, thinking about it some more, I remembered was that the research to date was on using tart cherry taken with allopurinol, and I decided to interpret that literally. So, I now take my cherry pill in the morning with my other pills (and not at lunch as I had been). The result has been no further gout attacks, and even the minor pain I’ve often experienced has been reduced. That means that, so far, I can avoid increasing the dose of allopurinol, something I’m quite keen to avoid because the risk of side effects goes up with the dosage. I rate that a full win.

I’ve been battling fatigue ever since going on diltiazem to control my heart rhythm, and to deal with that the cardiologist I saw the end of October cut the dosage of my statin. Nothing much changed for weeks and weeks since then.

In time, my energy levels have improved, if only slightly or somewhat, however, the drug doesn’t seem as bad as beta-blockers were, and they’re dramatically better in one important respect: My head doesn’t feel like it’s filled with stuffing anymore. I can show that with one list:
► December (57)
► November (58)
► October (32)
► September (28)
► August (45)
► July (39)
► June (25)
► May (21)
► April (16)
► March (9)
► February (17)
► January (17)
That list is of the number of blog posts by month, up to today (but not including this post). From January through June, I was on beta-blockers. In April or May, I’d started taking the pill at night so I’d have more energy in the daytime, which did help. Then in June I was weaned off of beta-blockers and onto diltiazem. In September I was hospitalised with Afib, and they increased my dosage of diltiazem.

What all this shows is that I was least productive (in terms of number of blog posts) when I was on beta-blockers, and far more so once I’d changed to diltiazem. This demonstrates that my mind is much clearer now than it ever was under beta-blockers. There were times I wondered if I’d ever get my blogging mojo back, but more than that, if I’d ever get to be ME again. Clearly, I have.

So, while I am more tired than I’d like to be, it is nevertheless such a vast improvement on how I’d been feeling mentally that I don’t really care. My energy may eventually further improve over time, too. Well, I can hope. In any case, I rate that a major, though not full, win.

There have been other, unexpected changes. I don’t drink as much coffee as I used to because I just don’t feel like it. I also don’t drink much alcohol anymore for the same reason. Neither is necessarily good, bad, or indifferent, just reality.

There have been other side effects, in the “TMI” category, probably. One of the new drugs was causing quite a bit of flatulence, which smelled like sour milk. I recently started taking some probiotic capsules (more convenient than eating yoghurt), and that problem has pretty much disappeared.

Those are all the major changes that I’ve experienced over the past few months, and the list of blog posts by moth provides a stark contrast to how things are now as compared to where I was at the start of the year.

The New Year will no doubt bring new challenges. Most do. But for the first time since after the first few months after this whole journey began, I feel like I’m moving forward again. I’ll take that.

My plans for the New Year include working on losing weight and beginning (mild) exercise, two things that were impossible when I was beta-blockers and had no energy, nor when I was enduring gout attacks. Maybe progress on all that can be fodder for updates next year, rather than dealing with new challenges. Like I said, I can hope.

So, all things considered, this year ended up much improved on where it began, and that’s what matters most to me. A lot. Besides, with this post I’ve now achieved my annual target of 365 posts, something that seemed improbable at the start of the year. That, too, matters to me—much more than I let on. See? This year did end well.

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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