Posts Tagged ‘American Spirits’

The Cholesterol- Part two

Monday, December 7th, 2009


Still alive, see? Without Lipitor!

I have not gone back to get my numbers checked again. I will wait for all the strategies to take effect. I’ve been walking, religiously. The Lake is 0.6 miles around. Three or four miles means I have to walk around five or six times, and though there is plenty to talk and gossip about with my walking partner, and there is a lot of wildlife in that lake to entertain us, it’s dizzying. It’s not really a lake, but a retention pond,  where the runoff water from the heavy rains end up. There really is wildlife there, right in the middle of Tallahassee.

My mother often said she wanted to be a bird after she died. I never thought of her as a cute songbird or as a raptor. I started walking around this lake soon after she died. I saw the great blue heron on one of my earliest walks there.  He was perfect in every way, and had a large scar on one side near his wing. I was immediately convinced that he was in fact my mother, the scar was proof.  It was a mark from the heron’s previous life, in which he had fatally damaged his liver. He still comes, six years on. He walks right up to the gaggle of Muscovy ducklings, picks up one of them in his elegant beak, and swallows it whole. His neck gets a little ungainly as the creature descends into his belly, and when the bulge vanishes, he steps up again to his buffet, and takes another, and so on, till he is full. That’s my mother all right.

Those Muscovies are ugly, and, little signs around the lake inform us, dangerous. They spread disease, are aggressive, produce about a pound of feces each per day, some of which we carry into our cars and homes with our shoes, and worst of all, they mate with native wild species of ducks and turn them into Muscovies! All these things considered, I am grateful for the heron’s contribution to the eradication of these spectacularly ugly creatures.DSC00052



In the spring there are soft shell turtles that go a little spring-silly and start coming out of the lake to find mates or lay eggs. They are big, they resemble the unfortunate Jar Jar Binks, and really do have soft shells, as I found out when I rescued one who had wandered into traffic in search of a mate. He was very heavy, and tried to bite me.

That’s the walking part. Then there are the oats. In the beginning it was awful to eat the goopy matter. But more and more, I find myself looking forward to the warm slurry with a handful of dried blueberries. I have not eaten any red meat or bird (I would put that aside for some Muscovy duck flesh) since the 11th of November, and have consumed so much Mackerel and salmon that I must smell fishy. I’m sure the garlic and olive oil contributes to my general aura as well.  But, all in all, I feel better, and maybe I am getting better too. If not, then not, but I am still adamantly against swallowing statin drugs to bring down those scary numbers.

The smoking, I’ll be honest, is a FAIL. I could easily do it in the next two months, it is football season after all. There are so many ups and downs, and so much of it on the NFL channel, that hours and days could pass before I needed to leave the house to smoke. That one thing will improve my numbers more than any amount of walking, herbal powders, or food. It has to be my next goal. I’m thinking about it. I’m down to two a day, the hard part is to bring that number down – to zero.

And, I could finish my unfinished third book…

The Cholesterol, part 1 (there may not be a part 2)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


“Are you taking your Lipitor?” – nurse, as I walked in for my annual physical. I know what that is for, Lipitor. and I have been diagnosed with that ailment before, in my last depraved-living episode. Still, alarm bells did not ring, nor, since they are usually on silent mode, did they vibrate.

“No” I said to her.

“Oh no, did you not get a call from your pharmacy? you should be taking it… anyway, your doctor will be in soon, he’ll talk to you about it…”

She came over to take my blood pressure, saying somewhat apologetically, somewhat soothingly, “you got some NEWS, maybe it will be higher than normal, a little elevated…”

It was 120/60.

The doctor, when he eventually came in, assured me that I should drive to the pharmacy directly from his office, and start taking the medication that same day. There was a threat in his calm that finally began to alarm me. I told him of this episode of bad living that had lasted two years, that I had done everything possible to raise my cholesterol. I had eaten bloody filet mignon, fried chicken – no fried chickens, barbecued everything  – baby back ribs, short ribs, pork, chicken, I had driven rather than walked even the shortest distances, I had smoked many many packs of American Spirits, and, the topper, I had been under lots of stress. Even if it was good stress, it was still stress – a book I had written was out there in the world. I asked that doctor if I could change all that, instead of… but he wouldn’t have any of it. He didn’t believe anyone really changed their lifestyle, their habits. The way he said it, I would die on the way home if I didn’t take the pill.

I picked up my prescription. I put the bottle on the table next to my computer and hit the internet.

I found out a few things: That my numbers were bad, but that they could be a lot worse. That I could take things other than Lipitor, things that would not give me muscle aches or memory loss, or that just plain fear-of-side effects induced side effects. That I wasn’t going to die tomorrow, and probably not the day after. That statins had not shown any positive effect on mortality in women who had not previously had a heart attack or a stroke.

I woke up the next morning and ate a bowl of oats. Raw, like a horse. With raisins. I had a mound of leaves and a can of wild Alaskan salmon for lunch. I drank sterol-fortified orange juice from Minute Maid. I ordered Guggul from Himalaya. I had a glass of red wine as I watched the Thursday night football game.

That was day one. I am still doing many of the things I did on day one. Not as frantically, not with the same manic sense of near-death as day one, but I am still there. And it’s almost the end of week one. I plan to quit smoking on my son’s 13th birthday, which is uncomfortably close. I love my cigarettes, and maybe one day I can smoke a cigarette for the sheer pleasure of it … maybe.

Here are my numbers. I know, I know. They are nasty.

Total Cholesterol – 232, LDL – 170, HDL – 42.

Anyone who thinks I’m going to die in the next day or so, please post your goodbye notes in the comments!