Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006
Dear Diary:

About six months ago the spousal unit was told by his doctor that his cholesterol levels were at the "Danger Will Robinson" level.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. The spousal unit is one of those skinny men who toss back the equivalent of five meals a day and never gain an ounce of fat. I know. I, too, hate his guts for that.

Frankly, he should have been a lot more careful when choosing his mother. She had to have heart by-pass surgery in her 60's, her father died of a heart attack and her grandfather died of a heart attack. The spousal unit's oldest brother had a heart attack in January and had to have by-pass surgery. His next oldest brother has high cholesterol levels.

Clearly, the woman is crawling with heart disease cooties and has handed them on to her kids.

Our family doctor said it was time to put the spousal unit on Lipit0r. He sent the spousal unit home with enough trial packs to keep him going for free for a few months. Our doctor suggested he try the drug, come back for more blood tests, and if the Lipit0r worked, then he'd be on it for the rest of his life.

When I read the possible side effects listed on the box I said, "Duck this," (or words that sounded remarkably like that) and asked our doctor if there were other possibilities that didn't involve potential damage to major organs. I am somewhat protective of the major organs.

Our doctor said the spousal unit could try switching to a heart healthy diet, but his expression as he said that spoke volumes.

Thus, Beanstock 2006 was launched. I threw myself on the mercy of my three loyal readers and you sent me your bestest recipes involving beans and lentils. Bless you all for this.

After a few days of truly astounding flatulence, I can now report that our bodies have adapted. The rumours you have heard that the spousal unit and I are the reason that Canada won't make its Kyoto targets are, quite sadly, true.

I've already switched to a whole grain diet as part of Project Marn-ra, and the spousal unit joined me. The guy who used to take cake and cookies for his mid-day snacks started to take things such as fruits, vegetables, hummus, and nuts. We started eating fish twice a week. Enough poultry entered our diet that I worried a bit about starting to strut like a chicken.

I kept waiting for him to crack, to go back to his old habits.

To my complete and utter amazement, he stuck to it.

Last week he went to the doctor's for blood tests and yesterday he went in to get his results. As he was walking out the door he darkly muttered that if his dietary changes hadn't worked, he was going to eat nothing but pizza, hot dogs, and poutine (a Quebec dish that involves French fries layered with cheese curds and then drowned in gravy.)

Even you know what? It worked big time. The spousal unit has dropped his cholesterol by 25%. He's in the high end of normal instead of being in the "have you got your affairs in order?" range.

We are both ecstatic and our doctor is amazed. The spousal unit goes back in another six months for more testing. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that at that point he's lowered his numbers back into the mid or even low normal range.

This doesn't mean that he couldn't fall over tomorrow from a heart attack. Given his family history, he may have already built up blockages in his heart. He passed a standard stress test with flying colours, but a stress test only catches the big blockages, not the smaller ones.

But hey, there's only so much you can worry about. We're doing what we can.

This morning the spousal unit and I went down to his mom's and assembled her new treadmill. Her doctors have all stressed that if she wants to improve she *has* to move and with winter about 10 minutes away, she'll be doing most of her moving in the house.

The instructions for assembling the treadmill came with several sheets appended, sheets which said, "You know step 7, the one where we told you to put Tab 482 into slot 531? Just kidding. Instead put Tab 482 into slot 331." Oh man. You can well imagine our dread.

Well, it went far better than we expected. The treadmill went up in a jiffy. My trainer is certified to rehabilitate the elderly so I went to her for advice. She recommended that we set the treadmill to mile an hour, which turned out to be its slowest pace. When I tried that it was excruciatingly slow.

Step ...... step ....... step ......

What was scary to see was that my mom-in-law could not keep up that pace for more than a minute and then we had to turn the treadmill off. I tell myself that her stamina will come back, one step at a time, but I also know that the chemo has compromised her immune system, left her with few resources to fight off illness or infection.

Seeing her on the treadmill like that, unable to walk at the slowest pace imaginable for a very short time, made a big lump come up in my throat. For the first time I saw clearly how frail she has become.

It feels as if about ten minutes ago my mom-in-law was my current age. She used to charge up the hill to my house to meet my daughter on her way down to the valley to the school bus. On all but the coldest days, after my daughter was picked up, my mom-in-law would go for a brisk two mile walk.

I look at her now and I think about how fast that 25 years has whooshed by. I can't help but wonder a bit what the future holds for me as I continue to age, and if I have the courage to face whatever may come.

Oh well. I survived near fatal flatulence. Must be I can face down whatever is to come, eh?

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 712.93 miles. 10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck10 per cent rubber duck
Oh, man, but I am having a hard time building back stamina. Ouch.


Goal for 2006: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers



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