(Photo courtesy of http://www.hobotraveler.com/health/video-the-last-heart-attack-solution-with-president-clinton-and-sanjay-gupta.php)
This is the first time I am going to blog about myself, though I admit I have almost revealed my entire self through my tweets. For those of you who’ll take interest in reading this, I hope you grab some lesson/s and amend your lifestyle while it is still early…
When I was a medical student, we had this subject Clinical Pathology, where we would volunteer to be the source of blood specimen for the designated laboratory test we will perform. Whenever it was my turn to give the specimen, my blood, after centrifugation, would always show a thick layer of fats on top of the serum; it’s almost half of the entire blood specimen. When I compare it to other blood specimens, the others didn’t have that. I did not pay attention to it at first. I never thought it was abnormal. I noticed it, but I was never bothered.
On November 2008, I had a swollen knee. I couldn’t determine if it was due to my cardio workouts, or it was due to some illness, probably gout. I went to the hospital laboratory and had some tests done. Since my mother is hypertensive, I included some workups pertaining to that as well. My uric acid, which could be abnormal in cases of gout was normal; so it does not explain the swelling of my knees. Guess it was just really an injury from my workout. On the other hand, my other blood tests were blood sugar-normal, total cholesterol was 423mg/dL (normal is ;200mg/dL (normal is <;200mg/dL), triglycerides was over 200 (normal is ;60mg/dL). I then took a lipid-lowering agent and was advised by a colleague to have a repeat test after 3 months. Besides medication, I started to control my diet and worked out harder than my previous. At first, my workout was just due to vanity. But this time, I had a double purpose, this time to increase my life span further.
After 3 months of religious medications, diet and workout, I had my repeat blood test. Of course I was anticipating that it would already normalize as I was already doing the 3 possible methods of lowering my lipid. Alas! My total cholesterol decreased, but it was still beyond acceptable level. It only went down to 329 mg/dL. So I had to increase the dose of the medicine I was taking while maintaining my diet and exercise.
On the average, I would visit the gym for about 2 to 3 hours, 5-6 days a week. I was that dedicated. When I was taking the medication for about a year, I thought my cholesterol already turned out normal (without documenting) so I personally stopped taking the medicine as it was also a pain in my budget. Still I went on with my diet restriction and moderate exercise.
On March 2010, while preparing for a latin dance sport competition, I noticed that without a long warm-up, I easily tire out in less than 5 minutes of choreography. When it was jive time, I couldn’t finish the 1minute 30 seconds routine without stopping in the middle, feeling a sharp pain in the chest, especially when my heart rate accelerated. I thought it was asthma as I was also coughing that time. I took medications but it didn’t improve my symptoms. I had an ECG done to check if maybe I was having myocardial ischemia but still it was normal. My blood pressure too was normal. After 21 days of preparation I was able to go through the entire competition, and won the title. Still I was experiencing that sharp pain on my chest every time I exerted effort afterwards. Admittedly though, I lost a lot of weight due to ballroom dancing! My diet and exercise was geared now merely towards vanity, as I was only focused to losing weight and possibly a ripped abs (which was a joke up to this date of course). I pushed my cholesterol levels on the side already as I thought it was already controlled.
I began to love indoor cycling (spin classes) and was one of the hardcore attendees of each class. There were even times I attended them 7 days a week. I kept my weight in check but with occasional gains when I go lazy working out or sick. Suddenly, I didn’t feel that sharp chest pain during my exercises, even when my heart beat would go suddenly fast.
Last year, 2011, the sharp chest pain recurred. This time I thought it was from gastro-esophageal reflux. I took some antacids and even proton-pump inhibitors to no avail. I don’t know why, but I resumed taking my lipid lowering agent especially after my dad had a mild stroke, also diagnosed to have abnormal lipid profile and chronic bronchitis (as a result of his smoking for years). This time I was religious with my medications and would only miss when I forgot to refill my prescription. Later in the year, sometime October, I was again do that hardcore spin class, so I thought I was getting better again.
Last March 2012, while I was again preparing for another latin dance sport competition, I again experienced that sharp chest pain. I again checked my ECG, still normal. This time though, I started already eating some fatty foods as many articles I have read said we should not remove fat completely from our diets, even if our aim was to lose weight; it is the carbohydrates that we should watch out for.
Few days ago, I wanted to check how good was I doing as far as my lifestyle was concerned. And to my surprise, my lipid tests were as follows: total cholesterol – 299mg/dL, LDL 260 mg/dL, HDL – 41mg/dL, Triglycerides >; 200mg/dL (forgot the exact value), ALL ABNORMAL. Upon seeing it, I felt the heavens crashed my heart. I thought I was already living healthily and still I got this result. I felt I was sentenced to a shorter life span. My efforts didn’t work.
Guess, I’ll get back to eating only fish/chicken, fruits and vegetable salads. The passion to workout should never wane thus. So if I get frustrated when my workout gets disrupted, please understand. I am fighting for my life, not for vanity anymore. As of writing, I am 37 years old…