Thursday, May 31, 2012

Health Notes

Gilda’s far more well-read than I. She absorbs books, magazines, newspapers and Web sites at a prodigious rate. She finds way more articles than I do to pass on to her mate, especially ones on exercise, diet and health. I’m forever fed a full plate of ways to improve myself—less red meat, more exercise, more fruits and vegetables, more exercise, fewer sweets, even those with sugar-substitutes, more exercise. 

Naturally, I relish the few instances when I can defend my almost indefensible (prone) position of non-activity. Two months ago I forwarded to her an article from the NY Times on a study of how statins can cause muscle aches and fatigue. The Times said the effects may be especially pronounced in people who exercise. As I take Simvastatin to reduce my cholesterol level, I found comfort in the study. Of course, the study subjects were rats, but I’ve been called worse, so I identified with the results. 

Today, The Times front-paged more anti-exercise ammunition. “For Some, Exercise May Increase Heart Risks, Researchers Find,” screamed the headline ( The article suggested 10% of the population may fall under this risk classification. Not that I’m desirous of being susceptible to increased heart risk, but there’s no reason to tempt the Fates by openly inviting their wrath through exercise. Naturally, I sent the article along to Gilda. 

Another Times article today discussed the reluctance of patients to talk about their conditions with their physicians ( I generally don’t have that problem. Indeed, Gilda tells me I am too loquacious, providing extraneous data, at least in her view as a medical professional (a nurse practitioner). Could be I’m camouflaging my anxiety by talking too much. 

Anyway, my next annual physical is tomorrow. My blood work is generally good—cholesterol down to 165; HDL 41, LDL 79. Triglycerides, while still above normal, are 31% lower than six months ago. Still have to work to reduce my blood sugar levels, though. 

Here’s a headline from today I really like: “Murray Fights Through the Pain to Advance.” It’s over an article about Andy Murray advancing to the third round of the French Open despite back and leg ailments. As anyone who has played ball with me knows, I’m always complaining about sore knees, sore Achilles tendons and lower back pain. I play through it all, as well, though I don’t always win. By the way, in games I have pitched in so far this year, including a nine-inning stint a week ago, our softball team is 2-1 (overall, 2-2). 

It’s been months since I tried to see a free movie on a Tuesday. But with a new flick out titled “Bernie,” my brother’s name, I was compelled to try the other day. I arrived half an hour before the 4:10 pm showing, but the film, starring Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black, was sold out. “Sold out” is really a euphemism for senior citizens and the unemployed taking advantage of free film cards they get as part of our cable company triple-play package. “Bernie” is about a mortician who befriends a wealthy, nasty old lady in Texas who he eventually kills and stuffs into a freezer on her property. It’s based on a true story. I’m hoping it will be at least as entertaining as “Weekend at Bernie’s.” 

Speaking of my brother, he and wife Annette just returned from Vietnam, a side trip from a visit to Hong Kong. My sister Lee and husband David toured Vietnam two years ago when their son Jonathan was working in Singapore. I’m a little envious of these trips. Now, that is. I could easily have preceded them to Vietnam 40 years ago had I passed my draft physical. As I previously wrote, I flunked my physical by being underweight, the first time in my life I ever was proud of my physique. 

Here’s another sign the NY Yankees of 2012 are a shell of their former selves. Despite a recent power shortage, particularly with the bases loaded (they’re 0 for their last 17), the Yankees really need more starting pitching, given the inconsistencies of Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda plus the season-ending injury to Michael Pineda. Yet, the George Steinbrenner-less Yankees did not, or could not, convince Roy Oswalt to join their staff. Oswalt signed a reported $5 million, one-year deal with the Texas Rangers, more validation that the mantle of baseball dynasty, at least in the American League, has been transferred to the Rangers, league champions the last two years. 

True, the free-agent Oswalt is coming off an injury-plagued 2011, but there is little doubt he would be at least as effective as Hughes or Kuroda. It’s painful to watch the Yankees slip into mediocrity, at best, insignificance, at worst. I never thought I’d miss George. 

It’s enough to drive a fan to drink. But in New York City, if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way, you’ll be restricted in the size of sugary soft drinks you can purchase in a restaurant, deli or sports arena—no more than 16 ounces of pap per serving. It’s a health issue, part of Bloomberg’s continuous war on obesity and its causes. 

It’s disingenuous to argue sugared soft drink consumption doesn’t contribute to added weight and possibly to adult onset diabetes. Bloomberg’s opponents would argue he is dictating how people may live their lives, that he’s usurping (or is it un-syruping) their rights. Yet it is also indisputable the rising cost of health care for the obese and diabetic is a silent tax on everyone, that it is in the public interest to control consumption of products that destroy lives and cost the taxpayer to medicate. It’s just like efforts to fight tobacco use, or trans fats in restaurant food.

Now, as a long-time Coca-Cola drinker—the real stuff, not diet—until about 20 years ago, I can tell you some people do not gain weight from it. I wouldn’t have flunked that draft physical if Coke had packed pounds onto my frame. But Coke did play a part in elevating my blood sugar levels. 

I’m not thrilled the public and businesses would have some of their rights curtailed. But I am supportive of a government policy that aims to improve the quality of life for everyone, even if they don’t realize it’s in their best interests. 

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