Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More PDT, Lower Values for Me and a Colonoscopy! Gee...

I was back at my dermatologist's office last Friday for another round of Photodynamic Therapy as a defense against Mr. Sun. I was treated twice last year with the same PDT treatment and it worked well. My doctor hasn't said but I believe he wants to treat me routinely with this method for destroying precancerous skin cells (also known as actinic keratoses) on my face.

While I was very good at using sunscreen last year during the summer and fall, I stopped once winter arrived and I shouldn't have. I've got my bottle of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen (with zinc) at the ready once again.

My vascular doctor (who became involved with my health care a little over a year ago) has become my primary care physician. He had me in for a physical last November and did a complete blood count on me to check for the dozens of values a blood panel measures. While my HDL cholesterol level was optimal (68), my LDL (125) and overall cholesterol (211) were both higher than Dr. Foley was comfortable seeing and they were numbers that surprised me as well. He wrote me a prescription for Lipitor saying that there's no reason I shouldn't live to see my 90s and he wants to be sure I get there with healthy arteries. I couldn't disagree. He mentioned some side effects in the way of muscle and joint soreness and I left without giving any push-back.

When I got home I mentioned to Tammy the new prescription that had been called in for me and told her of my concerns for never being able to come off it once going on it. She agreed that that's generally how it works and expressed surprise to see it prescribed for me considering how Dr. Foley had been impressed with my "pristine arteries" when I was hospitalized one year ago last month for clotting issues. She suggested I call his nurse to ask if he would be agreeable to seeing what sort of improvement I could make to my cholesterol level through diet before committing to Lipitor or some such drug for the rest of my life. Dr. Foley agreed and gave me 3 months to improve my cholesterol values.

I got the results yesterday.

I'm happy to say that my overall cholesterol went from 211 to 154 and my LDL dropped from 125 to 79! I can live with those numbers. Literally.

I've never had issues with elevated cholesterol before so what changed? I think it may have been my recent routine (since retiring) of getting up each morning and making a breakfast of eggs and bacon in addition to eating some of the pastry Tammy has been buying to try and fatten her mother a little. I've been working out but that's not enough. So, with Tammy's help, I've drastically reduced my cholesterol intake and am eating more healthful foods. Dr. Foley was very pleased with the results and gave me an "A+" rating. I was excited about the news but waited until I got home to tell Tammy. I wanted to see the look on her face when I handed her the sheet with my improved blood panel numbers. She was both happy and impressed!

Just one last medical thing—I promise. I went in for another colonoscopy procedure this morning. I think this was my 5th colonoscopy in the last 8 years but because there were no polyps to be found this time, I was told I don't need to be examined again for another 5 years. If you're at all put off by this procedure, don't be. The only pain associated with it was a small prick where the nurse inserted an IV needle in a vein in my hand to administer a sedative. I've been awake for every other colonoscopy I've had but Minnesota Gastroenterology P.A. has a new protocol where everyone is put under. That worked well too. Not knowing what's going on inside me is much more of a monkey on my back than just going in and having it done.

I spent the past few nights working on a project for a friend from work who was instrumental in getting me to seek a 2nd opinion for my hearing loss late last summer. I remember coming back from seeing an ENT doctor in Burnsville after having been told that it was doubtful I would experience much recovery and that I should focus my efforts on learning to adapt to being deaf in one ear and agreeing with him. I picked up the phone that night to call Steve and tell him I'd be in in the morning to submit my retirement papers and why. He was insistent that I get a 2nd opinion, preferably from a doctor at Mayo Clinic. Had he not done that, I'm very sure I wouldn't have pursued the treatment which, along with much prayer from many friends who were pulling for me, led to my complete healing. But it all started with Steve and I felt I needed to say thanks in a more lasting way.

It's a small panel I made for him that I designed a while back in the vein of Frank Lloyd Wright's work. It measures 4.5" by 8.5" (10 by 21.5 cm). I hope he's able to find a sunny spot for it.

Reid posted a link to my Facebook wall about a mountain bike race in Lutsen this June and was wondering if I'm at all interested.

Heck yeah!

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