We're currently going through a little medical crisis at our house. About 10 days ago my husband had 2 episodes of chest heaviness. But it was 96 degrees out both times that day, and he was race walking home from the train when it first happened (I call it race walking because @ 6' 2" his legs are much longer than mine, and he always walks with a purpose and after work he wants to get home as fast as possible, so it's practically a trot), the the second time was later that same day carrying 2 heavy packages up the three (un-airconditioned) flights of stairs to our apartment. He also mentioned that for the past few days at work he would feel his back, upper chest and shoulders tightening, but blamed it on stress, since work has been crazy, the bosses cut benefits, increased production quotas by 50%, so although they're already each doing the work of 2 people each thanks to layoffs, they now have to add in the amount of work expected of three people doing the same job. Oh, and did I mention the mandatory over-time recently? That's now up to 5 hours a week, so if you dare take a day off for any reason you have to stay an extra 2 hours after your usual shift to make up for the hour over-time missed.
Is it any wonder he was having all this muscle tightness and chest pressure??
And he didn't tell me about all this until 5 days after it all started, when he came home from work after another 10 hour day, 90 minute mass-transit commute in 95 degree heat while standing all the way then a quarter mile walk home from the train. And at first all he said was he feels he needs to see the doctor because he's totally drained, exhausted. By the time the whole story came out there was just 5 minutes before the doctor's office was closing for the day and since he refused to go to the emergency room they said they can squeeze him in the next day but not until 2:30 pm.
Since I'm way overdue to see the doc to get prescriptions renewed and lab work done, I asked if they can squeeze me in at the same time. We've been going to this practice for over 30 years and had no problem getting my appointment, too.
Next day comes, the intern and doc both examine him, find nothing wrong except a little higher than usual blood pressure, so the doc orders a slew of routine lab work for him and a nuclear stress test. He's having that done this Wednesday.
My exam is a quickie, with the longest activity waiting for the doc to write the orders for my labwork.
We left the office and headed straight to the local hospital's out-patient department to get blood drawn. We usually hit a chain lab, but they closed a half hour before. The out-patient lab was open for another hour, and even though we usually don't like that lab, my husband didn't want to wait to get his blood work done, especially since it was already 3:30 pm and neither of us had anything to eat all day, just in case the doc did order blood work.
When we got home and while dinner was cooking I gave hubby the same advice I was given after my bout with Takotsubo Syndrome that was brought on totally by stress back in 2009. Deep breathing, meditation, exercise, etc. He said the next day at work, when things started hitting the proverbial fan again, he just closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths, got up and went into the bathroom for a few minutes, and by the time he got back to his desk the manager's "crisis" had passed and my husband was able to continue with his work as if nothing happened.
My husband has been fine since. No chest heaviness, no muscle twinges. No soul-crushing stress at work that he couldn't handle.
Now that he had his first health scare in a long, long, time, and the first one to involve a major bodily system, he decided that at age 62 he's too old to fart around with his diet any more. Although he eats a healthy McDougall-legal meal for dinner every night, at work he would guzzle down some coffee, has recently started grabbing donuts a few times a week, would drink a few cans of cola with dinner most nights, and every day after dinner he would inhale a half bag of sour cream and onion potato chips and a sleeve (about a dozen cookies) of fig bars, sometmies using peanut butter as a dip or spread on them.
Let's see what his cholesterol levels when he sees the doc for all his test results next week! They were elevated back in 2008, the last time he had them drawn. But like many men, he felt indestructible, as if he was still a teenaged boy. He now realizes he's not. So no more potato chips, and he's limiting the fig bars to 4 cookies a night, and NO nut butters. Gone also now are the cheese sandwiches on potato rolls he would bring in for lunch every day. He still insists on those rolls, but now he has a sandwich made from Lachesis's Seitan O'Greatness (minus the oil) or homemade oil/tahini-free hummus.
And I had to play around with the menus to make sure I was sticking 100% to the McDougall/Esselstyn heart-healthy guidelines. I have to admit, especially when running around caring for the late aunt, when I had a flu, or now, in this heat, I got sloppy. We've had white flour pasta, jarred pasta sauce and white flour tortillas instead of grabbing whole grain, oil free versions. White flour bread and rolls. The occasional take-out meal from the Chinese food place, but even though we can get food meat, oil and salt free, they always send white rice. Heck, I would pinch a few of my son's french fries from the golden arches when he brought them home!
But it all stops now.
I saw the doc this morning and got my lab results, and they're not pretty. Trigs and cholesterol are both up. My liver enzymes are slightly elevated, too, but that may have more to do with the red yeast rice than anything else. Inflammation markers are up, but he said that was to be expected with my arthritis flare-ups and chronic sinusitis. But not all the labwork came back yet. In fact, the office manager had to call the hospital and beg to get these faxed over. My Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12 and HgbA1C and ANA weren't included, and the woman the office manager spoke with on the phone says she can't find any record of them being done, so now they have to scurry around to find it and when we go back to see the doc next Monday for my husband's test results the doc and I will further discuss mine.
All the meals I've made since that doctor's visit early last week have been made according to Dr. Esselstyn's guidelines, and many came right from his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Today's dinner is one of them.
Awesome Almost All Orange Vegetable Soup is its name, and today is the first time I'm making it. Why haven't I made it before? Well, I was lazy. It has a lot of ingredients, a lot of chopping, a little pre-cooking of ingredients, and since fresh produce is pretty crappy around here, I didn't feel like going from store-to-store finding acorn squash that wasn't squishy or celery and carrots that weren't brown and limp. But we did this weekend, and it took 3 different stores to get all the necessary ingredients for this soup.
Yes, it's 97 degrees outside and I made soup. I made it soon after I got home form the doc, let it simmer for a while, then turned it off to let cool down. By the time my husband gets home it'll be perfect.
What changes did I make? Well, parsley instead of cilantro. I'm in the "cilantro is a vile, evil weed" category. And I only had one sweet potato. I never heard of Dr. Bronner's before so used my salt-free version of Bryanna's broth powder. I have a loaf of Ezekial bread on hand for the dunking.
I really can't smell it cooking because of the fans and air-conditioners on, but I did take a sip earlier and it tastes pretty good. It's certainly worth the trouble I went through to make it.
At least tomorrow is a much simpler meal planned, Mary McDougall's Cuban Potatoes, but minus the olives.
What a week! What a month! What a year! Heck, what a decade!!