Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Matters Of The Heart. Literally.

Ok, serious bidness for once. No jokes today.[1]

I'm nearing my mid-30's, and generally consider myself to be in good, albeit not great shape. I pretty much have long lived with the ethos that I can eat whatever I want as long as I work out enough to equalize it. This has worked fairly well for me to date. I typically work out 3-4 times a week, doing mostly cardio. My eating habits are so-so. I generally will eat better at home than work, but when I'm on the road, as I frequently am with my Day Job, this regimen falls completely out of balance. Logging 55-60 hour weeks, while trying my best not to C.Y.I.N. and knock somebody the eff' out is pretty stressful stuff and leaves little energy for hitting the hotel exercise room by the end of the day. That's more or less been my lifestyle since I entered the real world.

Like any responsible adult, I have a regular physician I see twice year to check my vitals. This routine has always been the same for as long as I can recall: they check me, give me a generally clean bill of health, and send me on my way till the next time. But my most recent check-in a couple of months ago was a bit different. After the nurse checked me out, the Doc came in with a somber look on his face. And that's when I knew something was wrong.

In short, I had pre-hypertension. Not anything borderline fatal, but higher than what they'd seen in past visits. I didn't think much of this, till my Doc recommended I see a cardiologist. You know, a real doctor. A specialist. This was suddenly serious business.

A week later, the cardiologist checked me out, and asked me a million and one questions about my lifestyle and what might have lead to my sudden spike in blood pressure. In the end, while I'd love to blame my maladies on George Bush, Hillary Clinton, vocoders, or Fox News, reality is the culprits were far simpler: sodium and age.

I know I do a lot of joking on this site, but for me, this whole episode showed the importance of paying greater attention to your health as you age. Simply put, I can't get away with doing the same stuff I've been doing. Had I not been going to the doctor on a regular basis, and worse yet, had I not had the health insurance to get the specialized attention I needed, who knows how this story might have ended. If I hadn't identified my blood pressure as an issue that needed to be controlled, I could have eventually had some catastrophic circumstances, mainly because cardiovascular issues seldom are accompanied by notable symptoms. This is precisely why people drop dead each and every day with no prior warning. My situation obviously wasn't anywhere near that dire, but I learned my lesson nonetheless.

With a wife and child to support, I found out rather quickly that your health is something you can't fool around with. It's the one thing that money can't really buy if you think about it.

This story, of course, has a happy ending. I mean, I am blogging about it after all. The doctor recommended some very basic, yet permanent lifestyle changes that I needed to make part of my everyday routine. This mean not adding extra salt to anything, cutting down on fried and/or frozen foods, no fast foods, water instead of soda, mixing in more weights with my cardio workouts, and monitoring my blood pressure on a regular basis. I'm proud to say that I've lowered my blood pressure back to a very normal systolic/diastolic reading in just 6 weeks by making these minor changes in the way I do things. I even dropped 5 unnecessary pounds in the process. And honestly, it wasn't even all that hard.

This post wasn't really meant to do anything other than get you guys to think, and consider your health if it's something you might typically take for granted as I used to. If you don't have a regular physician, ask a friend and find one. If you've got a friend or loved one who you know is slackin' on getting him/herself checked out, checkout the Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day website and find out ways to make it happen.

Whatever you do, treat your body good before it's too late.[2]

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day [HealthLink]

American Heart Association Website

[1] I'll resume these tomorrow of course.

[2] This has been an AB.com Public Service Announcement, sponsored by Gregory Abbott's Greatest Hits, now on iTunes, CD, and 8-Track.

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