Heart disease


Free Scientology stress test

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Rob’s follow-up stress test is this afternoon. Commitments, and his bristling at the idea that I might be needed “just in case”, means I won’t be there “just in case”, and on the one hand, it’s silly to worry that anything dire will occur.

On the other hand, his brother-in-law barely stepped a toe off the treadmill after his stress test and dropped like a stone. Dead before he hit the ground and all under the watchful gaze of my sister-in-law, LW.

No guarantees.

The winter has been hard on us both. Dee brought home every manner of cold and flu available to her from school and soccer. Rob’s new stepfather infected us but good at Christmas with a chest centered viral nasty that undoubtedly set me on the path to a wicked case of Costochondritis from which I am still not 100% recovered.

Reno has been a strain in a myriad of ways and we are still quite a ways from being done as there are two more rooms to be gutted and the living room to finish.

Did I mention we haven’t had a real vacation in over a year?

Everyone we know holidays extensively during the winter months here. It’s really the only way to soldier through the dark, cold and snowy season and emerge mostly sane and healthy. But between reno expense, the Christmas season* and an unexpected need to fly and overnight in B.C for the in-laws wedding**, funding for a quick get-away to warmer and sunnier climes just couldn’t be spared.

It doesn’t help my peace of mind then to know that Rob is stressed from work, over-tired from reno and hasn’t been keeping up with his exercise the past few months. None of this bodes well for a stress test.

And it seems that my stress is what’s being tested.

I woke this morning with a crabby kink in my left shoulder-blade. Tell tale stress fault. I can milestone my life by it more reliably than the lifeline that runs along my palm.

Intellectually, I know that Rob is okay though overtaxed. He’s been on the treadmill religiously this past half a week with no ill effects, but he is rundown and still fighting the latest viral buggy thingy the child brought home.

My common sense, however, bows a bit to my paranoia where husbands and illness are concerned. Can’t seem to yoga master it even after all these years of practice. So, I will keep myself busy this morning and ignore Spidey, who is not as right as he thinks he is, but he does hate to be marginalized by sense. Which is why my shoulder hurts.

UDPATE: Rob’s stress test was stellar. ECG even had improved though his lack of due diligence with his exercise means that it could have been even better if he’d gotten on the treadmill more, but that is a side-effect of the lengthy winter and the lack of space the reno has created in terms of exercise space. The house is small and getting to a gym facility won’t fit in the reality of his day. Spring – being mostly here (we are threatened with cold and snow again at the end of the week despite sitting pretty at 13C today) means we can get back to Sunday hikes and evening walking soon. Dee will be so not pleased.

*Originally, we offered to fly Rob’s mom out for Christmas and put her up. New Gramps wasn’t yet in the picture in October and when they got engaged in late November, we had to extend the offer to him too. They bought his plane ticket, but we still shouldered the hotel expense. It was probably half the holiday expense and not something for which we’d budgeted as I had planned ahead for gifts for the kids and used my November yoga pay – which was considerable as I covered for everyone that month – to make sure it wasn’t a budget buster. I am an anal xmas gifty shopper in any case and rarely overspend.

**Speaking of the newlyweds, they are house hunting in Tucson and fully expect to find a home soon.


Death found an author writing his life.. Desig...

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Expanding one’s vocabulary deserves missionary zeal, but how many of us bother to learn a word a day?

Here’s a word for you – micromort – it’s the one in a million probability of death. Check out the chart. Very cool.

Most of us don’t spend much, or any, time worrying about our impending deaths. But make no mistake, everyone’s death is pending and has been from the moment you first drew breath.

The lucky majority, and I use the term “lucky” subjectively, will shuffle off to the undiscovered country at various degrees of ripe.

Statistically, only a small percentage of those over 70 can be considered healthy enough to be envied. The rest are, in various ways, chronically ill or disabled or both. One’s sixties, realistically, are the last frontier because the exercise one didn’t bother to do, the healthy foods not eaten, sleep deprivation, needlessly self-imposed stress and a general wishful thinking about being one of the lucky few because one’s great-grandfather married a twenty year old and had a half-dozen babies with her when he was 70 won’t matter one bit. Old age is ruthless and can really only work with the raw material at hand, not the genetic promise willfully squandered decades before.

Some of us though will bite it long before our born on dates could conceivably be considered stale.

Bad luck. Bad timing. Bad roll of the genetic dice rendering us susceptible to environmental triggers for all manner of nasty conditions. Whatever. Still dead.

And the odds mount as we age. At 60 a man’s risk of dying in his sleep on any given day is 27 out of a million. It climbs to 118 out of a million at age 75. In 1841 the odds sat at 86 and 266 per million respectively. But though modern life affords us more years, it doesn’t usually grant us good ones.

If you knew that sometime in your mid to late 60’s you’d physically deteriorate to the point where daily life was a real struggle, would a long life be as appealing?

The yogis – the serious ones – tend to live and live and then just die. But I suspect that their lifestyles make that possible in a way that no one in North America can really emulate.

My mother had a health scare recently. A lump in her breast turned out to be a harmless cyst, but at nearly 80, she has slowed noticeably. Her eyesight is failing at a rate that will result in blindness at some point yet to be fully copped to by her doctor, and she suffers from a variety of ailments that haven’t dampened her enjoyment of life but are harbingers of heart disease and strokes yet to come.

I am reminded of mortality – again – by the death of a friend’s father this last weekend.

Sudden but yet not really.

“How old was he?” Rob asked.

“Five years younger than Mom,” I said.

“Oh, well, that’s getting into prime death territory for men.”

And he was right.

We are lulled by media stories of centenarians climbing mountains but they make the news precisely because there are so very few of them.

The clock is always ticking. It just speeds up at 60 and gets steadily louder and slightly faster with every year after.


12 Lead ECG EKG showing ST Elevation (STEMI), ...

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I’ve been going to Cardio Rehab with Rob on and off. Recovery from a heart attack is a family affair we are told though so far, I am it as far as the “family” part goes.

Unless we are counting all the forced walks we dragged Dee on over the summer.

I have seen only spouses in attendance at the various classes they offer, so I wonder why they simply don’t say “spouse” instead of “family”. In my mind, they are not interchangeable terms.

Today’s class went over the basics. Heart Attack 101. Anatomy. What can go wrong. What it feels like when it does. How to gauge pain and dose yourself with nitro. When to dial 911.

Mostly it reiterated what we’ve heard in several other classes:

You are now chronically ill with a disease that will technically never get better. Stabilize perhaps. But your days of claiming 100% health are behind you.

Heart attacks are qualifiers.

“I’m in great shape … for someone with a heart stent and known blockage.”

There will forever be the “but”. Though not necessarily the other shoe.

“Are you worried,” Rob asked me.

Not really. My husband is a keener after all – one of the reasons why he is doing so well and the absolute reason why the company doctor and the P.T. at Cardio Rehab won’t clear him for work until he finishes the program.

It wasn’t his bad habits that caused the heart attack. He doesn’t have many in terms of diet although he could have exercised more. No, it was the stress. He can’t do anything half-assed. Even if it’s something he could care less about, he treats all responsibilities and tasks under his jurisdiction more seriously than a heart attack.

I am not worried for some reason, and it’s not naively assuming we’ve dodged a bullet that can’t ricochet back at us. I am not that complacent or foolish. I just don’t see the point in dwelling on the what-if factor or the when/again possibility.

We’ve taken additional health steps. Reordered life a bit. Safe-guarded what we can. And that’s all anyone can do.