Carolina: Cruising Past 70: WOW: Focusing on Health

Monday, January 23, 2012

WOW: Focusing on Health

getting prepped for the procedure

This post about my health issues was bumped off early in December because of Bill’s unexpected heart attack. Back then, superstitions come to my mind. Teresa, the ER nurse, said it is probably because it was a Lunar Eclipse that day (Dec. 8, 2011) and during such times, ERs experience a sharp increase in cases! I said that maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled writing about health issues! Look what happened after!

Stress Management
Well, Bill had his second coronary artery (75% blocked) worked on last Thursday and another stent was inserted. Technically, his heart is now almost as good as new! But through the ordeal, I was so stressed that I fell victim to several health issues right after. He jokingly said I just felt left out because he was getting all the attention!  But stress has always been an issue. That is why I retired from the Philippine business landscape early and why I retired from teaching/counseling in Seattle after only 2 years!

After his first procedure, my sciatic nerve got inflamed and I could scarcely walk for a couple of days, practically leaving Bill to his own recovery. As soon as that was gone, a three week ordeal of hives, affecting different parts of my body, began. I went to four doctors but it still raged. When I stopped taking all that was prescribed, the hives subsided, only to reappear the night before Bill’s second procedure! Again, the culprit appears to be stress!

drinking water after the procedure
Consistent Good Healthcare
But the cruising lifestyle allows us a more relatively stress-free life. However, it also prevents us from getting consistent health care. Bill had to wait for our 6-week Indiana/Ohio leg in August to September before he could have arthroscopic surgery even though it had been recommended by his primary physician before we left for Manila in February! All that time I had several ongoing health issues.

When we were in Manila, I consulted my former cardiologist, stress management doctor, and gastro-enterologist.  After all, health care costs are about a third of those in the US. I was told I had no cardiovascular problems but an endoscopy revealed that I had 3 tiny ulcers resulting in GERD. And my anxiety had everything to do with the very worries about these health issues! But despite the medication, the symptoms never really left.

So now that we are in Florida for several months, I have consulted with the Florida Center for Digestive Health. My medication was quickly changed to a stronger proton pump inhibitor. Dr. Ruderman also scheduled me for an upper right quadrant abdominal ultrasound, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. Results are all good. Lo and behold, the issues are all gone! Even the lingering hives!

finally getting a much needed rest
Other Necessities
Superstitions and stress aside, Bill and I both just have to continue to eat well and exercise regularly. A national medical system of patient records would also help so a doctor in any state can see the entire history and our primary physician can still exercise overall stewardship. A comprehensive but affordable health insurance will also help me think less of costs.  At 67, Bill already has all of these. I will have to wait 2 more years!

I also would like to become a more enlightened patient so I can discuss my case with doctors and even understand why I need to make necessary lifestyle changes. The PH Miracle (keeping the balance between acidity and alkalinity in our bodies) has opened my eyes to alkaline water, as my friend Jingjing has long suggested. I have also added more alkaline foods like green veggies, gelatin and avocado to my diet and minimized acidic ones like meat and sweets. 

Although Bill agrees, he also thinks that I have to be careful of what I read and be sure there is good science and solid empirical evidence to support the recommendations. He thinks some of the best-selling health books are nothing more than a new version of the legendary “snake oil sales pitch”. Oh the travails of getting old!  But Bill also reminds me that getting old is certainly better than the alternative!