Friday, June 15, 2007

I'm still at the 4 lb lost mark, due, probably, to the Pop-Tart I had for a bedtime snack last night. Since I'm doing a treadmill test for the cardiologist this morning, I may let that count for today's exercise. Wish me luck and pray nothing is seriously wrong. I'll write more later about how everything went.

6:00 pm. No treadmill today, but they did an ultrasound test, or echo cardiogram; no abnormal conditions were found. They've scheduled a thallium treadmill for next Thursday. The cardiologist didn't seem at all concerned that I had something wrong, just wanted to "cover all bases." He was much more concerned with my BP, which was 140/89 when I was there, and was glad to know I was being treated for hypertension, and had started exercising and losing weight.

We all know that emotional stress and depression cause "heartache," the kind written about in country ballads, not usually fatal. But did you know that long-term exposure to adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) can cause a heartache that affects the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the immune system, the nervous system, etc? Learning to cope with stress in healthy ways is a challenge we all face sooner or later. No human is immune to stress. Exercise seems to be one of the best strategies for lessening its negative effect.

When I was a child, my pediatrician Dr. McDougal said I had an irregular heartbeat. I was also anemic and had persistent sinus problems, probably due to numerous allergies, but back then they didn't know much about all this. It led my father to being somewhat over-protective of his "delicate daughter," something my sister misunderstood as favoritism, and more than likely influenced her to be the rough and tumble tomboy she was.

I wasn't sidelined very often due to medical limitations, but I do remember being reminded not to over-exert myself. "Don't let yourself get too tired," they told me, so consequently I rarely pushed myself to discomfort and wasn't athletic. Trying to keep up with the other girls in calisthenics and basketball warm-ups usually resulted in doubling over stomach cramps for me and a shortness of breath that took me longer to recover from than others, but I rode my bike often, and suffered no ill effects. I jumped rope, played tennis, and walked long distances without it hurting me. I suspected I was not nearly as delicate as my parents thought, but I enjoyed the extra attention. Nowadays, the doctor would encourage a thin, pale child like I was to play and exercise without restriction, treating the anemia and the allergies, and would encourage my parents not to worry that she can't keep up.

I was reminded of all this during my conversation with Dr. Barksdale about my medical history. I'm sure my attitude about physical activity and exercise were influenced by my childhood experiences and have led to some unhealthy choices in adulthood. It's about time, though, to rethink these outdated ideas and deal with today's realities, "Get real! Get active! Get fit!"


mornin' said...

It seems a good sign that the cardiologist is not overly concerned about your heart. And since you're treating the hypertension, exercising and eating right, you're obviously doing all the right things. I'M SO GLAD!

I envy your ability to pull up long term memories like you do. For some reason those memories are not so readily available to me. And, no, there's no demon in my childhood. I just don't have a good memory for things like that. Now, ask me a phone number from 20 years ago and I can probably come up with it. Oops, I can't remember your Tupelo # and think how often I dialed it. (smiles)

C J Garrett said...

It was 601-844-6881. Our number in the 50's was 2894-J-1, a 2 party line with the Hendricks family. Jane Parker's was 7631.

What I didn't mention about bad habits learned long ago is that I was encouraged to eat lots of ice cream and other high calorie foods to help me gain weight. Could that be why I crave ice cream when feeling stressed?