Thursday, April 24th, 2003
9:32 am - Health Update  
Doctor's appointment yesterday. Cholesterol is better than it was in December, but still not where it should be (according to the AMA), and nowhere near where it was three years ago when it was great. In fact, my profile now is remarkably similar to what it was before I switched to non-fat, no-cholesterol dairy and egg products, and stopped eating fast food every day for lunch. If anything, it's actually a few points worse, although the HDL is a bit better. It's as though my liver is going out it's way to produce more cholesterol to replace what I've removed from my diet. Bother. On the plus side, my triglycerides were 169 four years ago, and have remained under 125 since, which I suppose means I'm doing a decent job of not going overboard with the fats. I've also lost more weight, so the doctor is sort of encouraged. I'm really more annoyed than worried by all this, because there is no history of heart disease on either side my family. Good genes do help.

The asthma situation is less encouraging. I'm still coughing every day. For the most part, it's productive coughing, i.e. once the obstruction is cleared I stop, as opposed to the ticklish cough that keeps me up all night, but I can't do things that require me to expel large amounts of breath, like laughing or singing, without starting to hack. The Advair doesn't seem to be helping much, despite being at the highest allowable dosage, so he's having me take a pulmonary function test to see if I actually have asthma. I'll try to schedule it for the week I'm taking off prior to leaving for the F2F in May.

He did suggest that I check the A/C system of the truck for mold, because I mentioned that I always seem to cough when I'm driving. I'll check it, although he also said that the levels of allergens in my blood are normal, which sort of argues against there being a point source for my problems. This does have me worried. I really would like to be able to laugh out loud again with no consequences.



Fun asthma fact: It turns out caffeine is used an anti-asthmatic in places where there is no access to things like Flovent and such. Which means I can get totally wired every day and claim it's for my health. Woo!
 
 
Current Mood: puzzled
 
 
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(no subject) - orthoepy on April 24th, 2003 - 09:03 am
msbellemsbelle on April 24th, 2003 - 09:03 am
everyone should be able to laugh out loud. Medical stuff is so much of "not really sure why that is, let's try this" or "those test are normal" while you still have whatever it is. We don't know too much about how we work, it is kinda scary.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 24th, 2003 - 10:31 am
Yeah, the problem with whatever I've got is that it's low level and constant, as opposed to the type where you get attacks. There are no obvious triggers, so all we can do is try various things and hope they work. The pulmonary test should tell me whether the Advair actually works for me, so that's something. I can do aerobic stuff like walking and biking, but I can't do things where I have to move a lot of air, like laughing, or sprinting, or even volleyball.
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sumisumik on April 24th, 2003 - 09:34 am
Is HDL the stuff that builds up through exercise? If you build up that does the other stuff go down too? Or is one completely independent of the other?

The weight/diet/cholesterol/blood pressure stuff is so difficult to maneuver through.

But hooray for the more caffeine!
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 24th, 2003 - 10:15 am
Is HDL the stuff that builds up through exercise? If you build up that does the other stuff go down too? Or is one completely independent of the other?

Yup, more execise will help. That's one of the reasons the HDL number is better than it was before. As HDL goes up, LDL does go down, and HDL is the form of cholesterol that the body can get rid of, so that's good, too.

The weight/diet/cholesterol/blood pressure stuff is so difficult to maneuver through.


Yeah. One problem is that there's also a strong genetic component to this, which is pretty much impossible to do anything about short of drugs. Some people's livers just produce more cholesterol (about 80% of serum cholesterol is produced by the liver, the rest comes from dietary sources), and some people produce less HDL. As I said, for me it's more annoying than worrisome, because the medical guidelines say I'm higher than "normal", when this state could very well be "normal" for me. My blood pressure is also borderline, but it's been the exact same value since at least 1988, so again, for me it's normal. We'll see how it goes.
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Teppystephl on April 24th, 2003 - 10:40 am
Is Advair the only thing you're using for your asthma?

And -- I'm confused -- you call it asthma and are taking Advair, but then you said your doctor wants to schedule a test to *find out* if it's asthma?

For the record, I used to have moderately bad asthma (until I stopped living with a cat), so I know the symptoms, and to me it sounds exactly like asthma. Why delay on a test?

It sounds like you should be using a steroid inhaler a few times a day, which prevents the inflammatory process that makes the asthma start. I'm really surprised your doctor doesn't have you on one?

Is this your regular doctor, or an allergist? If you don't have an allergist, I HIGHLY recommend you go see one right away.
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Teppystephl on April 24th, 2003 - 10:44 am
I just double-checked Advair's Web site to see what the ingredients are, and there doesn't seem to be a steroid in the mix. And that's really key, because it addresses the *cause* of the asthma, and not just easing the symptoms.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 24th, 2003 - 11:09 am
And -- I'm confused -- you call it asthma and are taking Advair, but then you said your doctor wants to schedule a test to *find out* if it's asthma?

My doctor (and he's my regular doctor) has been assuming it's asthma (and I've agreed with him), and been treating it as such, but now we're going do the test to find out if a) it meets the medical definition of asthma, and b) if the bronchiodilator has any effect on it, i.e. I'm going to do the test without, then take a bronchiodilator and take the test again to see if there is any difference.

Advair is a combination of Flovent (a steroid) and a bronchiodilator. I had been on Flovent alone prior to January. If we find out the bronchiodilator has no effect (which appears to be the case so far), it'll probably be back to straight Flovent.

The thing is, prior to my getting sick last November, it was under control. That's why there's been no allergist prior to this. We'll see.
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Teppystephl on April 24th, 2003 - 11:35 am
Man, you're right! I always forget that Flovent is a steroid. Probably because my asthma was pre-Flovent and the steroid inhalers I used were all scary-sounding. "Flovent" sounds nice and unthreatening.

The thing is, prior to my getting sick last November, it was under control.

It's weird, but sometimes it just takes one thing to tip it over into clinically bad. That happened with my Mom. She didn't get asthma until she was in her 50s, and then BAM! She got really sick and got chronic asthma out of the deal. The human body is an odd, odd thing.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 24th, 2003 - 12:05 pm
That is essentially what happened to me. In 1998, I got the flu right after Thanksgiving, and the cough stayed. That's actually the event that got me to get a regular doctor in the first place. His description is that the illness, in effect, "rototills" the lungs, leaving them way more sensitive than they had been before.

It can go the other way. My allergies growing up were nasal. April and May I would be miserable, runny nose, post-nasal drip, the whole ball of wax. Then as I neared forty, they started to ease up. Now, the only effect my allergies have on my nose is slight stuffiness and an occasional sneeze. The main way I know it's allergy season is that my eyes still water about the same. Human bodies are really strange contraptions.
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Veejaneveejane on April 24th, 2003 - 12:01 pm
I did know that thing about caffeine! No, not just because it was a plot point on Quantum Leap once.

Asthma bites. I'm glad to hear it's not bad enough to bring out the big guns of supersteroids; I had a college friend on those and they made her insane (and didn't stop the acute attacks). Deep breath vibes.
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DXMachinadxmachina on April 24th, 2003 - 01:55 pm
Ah, but did you know about the Barcelona asthma epidemics? It's one of those classic medical detective type stories. Very cool. My doc was telling me about it yesterday when we were discussing possible triggers.

BTW, did you ever get your connectivity issues fixed?
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