Stuff People Seem To Like #5: H1N1/Swine flu

14 11 2009

Don’t get me wrong. People don’t really “like” swine flu, H1N1, but they sure are obsessed with it. I think I darn well might have it right now. Every respectable health source I’ve looked at seems to be indicating that the standard flu isn’t here yet and most cases of the flu that are surfacing right now are in fact H1N1. (Don’t quote me on that, however.)

I suppose I should go to the doctor, but what’s the point? The most I could hope for is a dose of Tamiflu and at this point, I’m not sure if it would really help. I’m just going to ride out this awful, awful storm. Now, you may be wondering what this flu experience is like. Here’s my personal experience with this mystery respiratory ailment:

On Monday night of this week, I started feeling chilly at the office. My coworkers reassured me that it was cold inside, I wasn’t getting sick, etc. But I felt like something was not quite right. I made it to work on Tuesday and  continued to worsen, but still wasn’t all that bad. It was raining pretty hard that night and I returned to my apartment soaking wet. After drying myself off, I collapsed into bed. By the next morning, Wednesday, I could hardly get out of bed. I was so sore, my chest was heaving and wheezing, and I was having trouble breathing. My tonsils were swollen and were collecting tonsil stones, which added to my sore throat. I hadn’t had this tonsil problem in probably a year. In short, I could barely make it the few feet across my quasi-loft apartment to contact my colleagues, much less go to work.

I’ve read unsubstantiated rumors that H1N1 attacks the lungs first, versus the upper respiratory tract as in most ailments. That seems to jive with my experience, as I’ve never heard my lungs wheeze like that before. It also theoretically  would make it pretty dangerous for people with athsma. The CDC advises people with lung problems to be cautious and seek help immediately if they come down with flu-like symptoms.

Anyway, I rode out Wednesday night and felt hungry, so I went out for a quick dinner and drinks (one alcoholic, two cranberry virgin). I felt fine, and thought the worst was over, but felt like collapsing as I walked across the street to my complex. That night was the worst of the worst, as I shivered nonstop for about eight hours. Thursday settled down a bit but I had no food or good drinks in my fridge, so I summoned the energy to go shopping that night. I made it back without too much trouble, but was pretty much a rock. On Friday, I decided that I would just take the day off and then ride out the weekend.

Unfortunately, my coworkers alerted me to the fact that Friday was also the deadline for health benefits election. This time, it was mandatory, no skirting, no exceptions. So I summoned my last reserve of energy and slowly trudged to work to do my benefits election. It became clear that I was not capable of making it through a full day of work. I had a terrible coughing fit and almost thought I might have a fit of vomiting. I calmed my queasy stomach and downed as much water as I could, and blew my nose and coughed until things settled down. Then I finished the deed on my computer, e-mailed myself some crucial notes and got the Dickens out of there. I thought it ironic that I had to put my health and others’ health at risk in order to get health benefits. Life is funny that way.

I’ve retraced my steps for the past week, trying to ascertain when I was exposed. I was around a lot of crowds the past weekend and could have theoretically picked something up at that time, but none of my compadres who I hung out with last weekend are feeling the way that I do. Thank God for that. So how did I get so sick? Hard to say, but I’ll be happy to have some semblance of immunity if I make it through this unscathed.

My consolation is that symptoms should be improving starting on days 4 and 5, namely this weekend. I doubt that I’ll be able to join friends and colleagues in partying it up, but hopefully things will be a bit more comfortable. Which is good, because I miss drinking beer and not having such a remarkably short fuse.

Did I mention the mood swings? I have felt horrible both physically and mentally. I am the kind of person that likes to live life to the fullest (yes) and to be in this kind of shape is torturous and causes my thoughts to drift in unhappy directions. I’m trying to think about joyous things, like looking over my vacation photos and planning future trips abroad. Anything to get my head in the clouds and out of the dumps. I’m certain that by the time I am better, I will be a new woman and I will be prepared to take the world by storm. Until then, I wait.

And there you have it. I have once again bared my soul, and perhaps shared too much about my innermost feelings, and I will probably apologize for something I wrote here. But hey, at least it’s cathartic. See you on the other side of the dark side of the moon, world.


Progress report

23 07 2009

As far as my fitness goals go, I think I’ve relaxed a little, but still keep it up. I exercise about five days per week, in addition to the new yoga sessions we’ve started at work, so I still get me some exercise time. I am very pleased with my fitness accomplishments, having increased my athletic capacity and strength and flexibility significantly in the last few months. 20 minutes on the elliptical is the bare minimum for my workouts now. I try to make it to 30 if I can, sometimes breaking up the sessions if I get too sweaty in the Southern humidity.

My actual weight hasn’t changed a whole lot – it goes up and down. It was down for a while and now it has settled to where it was. I haven’t gained anything though. Some of that has to be muscle, since I’m lifting weights and doing other strength exercises to build up my solid mass. My frequent traveling seems to upset any progress or momentum I’m getting, as well as breaking news cycles at work. Plus, I love to eat and am not eager to be hungry during the day.

In the coming days and weeks, I’m going to be focusing on ways to keep myself satisfied and also lower the amount of calories I’m consuming, since I seem to be fitter than I have been as of late and that doesn’t appear to be enough. Since I love to eat (and practically depend on coffee and chai to make it through some days) this could prove a tad challenging.

Don’t weight to exercise, geeks

10 05 2009

Hey geeks, don’t think fitness is incongruent with your primal desires for quackulations, numbers and computerized algorithms. Turns out there’s a lot of math involved in this health and fitness biznass. I’m finding that doing all this mathematical homework is kind of interesting and exciting and helps motivate me to get results.

My last update was the morning of Thursday, April 30, which is what I consider to be my official benchmark although I started earlier. I weighed 183 pounds even at that time. Now, about 11 days later, I weigh 181.5 pounds. I want to lose a pound or more each week and I’m on track so far to be at 181 even by Thursday (the 2-week mark). My body mass index (BMI) has gone down from 33.5 to 33.1, meaning my body is theoretically composed of less fat. My goal is to get that number down to 30 and out of the “obese” category, which means I’ve got to drop back down to 160 pounds. I’ve weighed as little as 130 pounds in my adult life, and I was a little chunky even then, so I’ve probably got to drop down to 115-120 to begin to look slim. That’s a far-off goal, so bottom line, first things first, is to get my weight down into the 170s. Then I’ll work on the 160s and eventually on hitting my target BMI, and then I’ll work from there.

Food is another issue. I’m finding that depriving myself of food or trying to eat a miniscule diet is counterproductive. So I just eat when I need to, and try to make the food selections smart and tasty and healthy. Allowing yourself to get too hungry is a sure way to slow down the metabolism and I don’t want my body thinking that I’m in a famine situation. I need those fat pounds to come off nice and easy. This is also why I have to lift some weights at each workout, just so that the ol’ bod doesn’t decide that I don’t need those arm muscles anymore. And because the muscles use more energy at rest if you use them when you work out.

Physically, I can tell a little difference. I can last longer at cardio (I pushed it  up to 30 minutes today in the gym — and yes I’m going to the gym, if you can believe it) and I’m graduating from spending the whole time on the exercise bike to occupying myself on the elliptical machine. The first time I tried the elliptical machine, I could only last 2 minutes. Now I can use the machine in two five-minute shifts with a 10-minute bicycle ride in between (and a 10-minute ride either before or after). My goal is to spend 10 straight minutes on the elliptical and then graduate to the stairmaster. I also want to be able to jog. Currently, I can only jog about 10 feet without before becoming exhausted. Part of this is due to my foot problems (my surgery did a number on me) and part of it is me being out of shape. Ideally I’d like to be able to jog a half a block. Losing weight and improving my cardio strength will help.

Oh, and my pants are a little looser. That’s nice, too. I’ll update as more details surface. Over and out.

Gettin’ a root canal

8 06 2008

health minuteWell, my tooth finally crapped out on me. After what I can without exaggeration say was a long, blisteringly painful, sleepless night, I arose Thursday with the resolution to end the discomfort that day. Since dentists only work four days a week, but not necessarily a lot more hours, Thursday would be my last chance to get it fixed before, you know, going out of the country.

I went back to the dentist and waited for a couple hours before being told it likely wasn’t root-canal serious. Took my referral and headed to the specialist, and the office hadn’t had my appointment confirmed and ended up giving it to someone else. I waited around for a while there (and even grabbed some really spicy Asian food for a break from the action) and finally got in. From there I was given a variety of moderately painful tests that included a very cold gel being placed on the sensitive tooth. Whoo man. It was decided that the pulp’s health was compromised and would probably not recover to full health (hence why it could no longer adjust its internal pressure for the temperature changes being exerted on it).

Thus I decided to do the root canal and get it all over with, which I expected and was fully ready to do anyway… and coincidentally there was an opening that day and I could do it before going to BC.

The whole treatment was actually less unpleasant than the earlier crown placement I’d had. Root canals aren’t that bad. The one warning I’d give is if your tooth is really inflamed and sore to begin with, the initial shot of anesthetic might not be very effective deep inside the tooth. After all, blood flow to the area is somewhat limited and there are probably changes in tissue structure. I had a hard time getting numb and needed a few boosters in each canal before the cleaning could take place. With the proper amount of anesthesia, I felt no pain at all; but I did have to speak up (groan, really) when that twinge of discomfort started.

Here, by the way, is an overview of the process:

  • You get a rubber dam on your mouth that isolates your tooth and also keeps your mouth open and positioned coincidentally. This can make the jaw sore, and it can get a little smelly if you’ve been in the chair for a couple hours. Still, it’s necessary in order to have a safe root canal.
  • An access hole is created. Expect grinding sensations if going through an existing crown.
  • A little more drilling to get inside. It can get painful at this point; get more juice.
  • Drilling some more. More potential for pain. Get more juice if you need it.
  • Cleaning out the canals. Youch, this part can be ouchy if you’re not fully numb. If you are, it should just feel like someone grinding around in there, with no pain. If you aren’t numb enough, you may feel a very uncomfortable sharpness in there. Get more juice.
  • The proceedings may proceed with placement of rubber gutta percha thingies in each canal, or that might be saved for another visit. That’s what happened with me. Personally, my jaw was killing me by this point, so I wasn’t too eager to keep going. I’ll go back for this part of the exercise after my trip.
  • The tooth is sealed and filled up and the dam taken off. You have to stay off the tooth as best as you can; temporary cement is placed to seal the opening if you’re going to come back. If you haven’t already gotten a crown, you’ll need one when the tooth is restored. There’s a bit of a time crunch since the tooth will become more brittle without the pulp.

Toothaches, etc.

24 05 2008

health minuteAs you know, I’ve been whining about nonstop toothaches for a while. They’re due to my highly sensitive teeth and likely the fact that large chunks were taken out due to extensive decay under my filling. I didn’t get to root canal level yet, but my tooth has been injured and it’s freaking out under the crown. The porous areas of the dentin get all excited and wacky when a stimulus (we’re not talking about Bush’s tax relief checks and BY THE WAY WHERE IS MY $$$ HEY GOVERNMENTOS ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME) reaches them. Well, they do stop every now and then. Thing is, I’m learning how to control them. It hasn’t been an easy road, but I’m finding that the clogging gel the dentist put on the tooth area is helping a little and that also reducing irritants as much as possible is a good idea. The most devious culprit so far is meat fibers. I find that these will set my tooth off horribly. Flossing them out reduces the pain almost instantly, but this depends on my having the floss on hand at a moment’s notice. Keeping my teeth clean has never been a strong suit of mine, hence why this tooth needed to be crowned in the first place, but doing a little bit of tooth caretaking seems to be one of the upshots of having hugely sensitive teeth.