Friday, March 13, 2015

Statins are Not for Me

I had my first encounter with statin drugs about 15 years ago in Rapid City, SD. I had high cholesterol levels, so the doctor put me on a statin. I was on that one only a few weeks, but my levels were coming down. Then that particular drug was pulled from the market--too many people were dying from it.

The doctor then put me on Lipitor. As time went by I began having a lot of muscle pain and cramps in various parts of my body, and during a routine urinalysis blood was detected. More tests. My bladder showed no problem. My daughter began searching the web and found that these symptoms were common with Lipitor and were caused by muscle breakdown. Not a good thing. No more Lipitor.

A low fat diet reduced my cholesterol levels somewhat, but not nearly to where medical authorities recommend.

After my diagnosis of cardio-vascular disease and the insertion of a stent in my nearly blocked heart artery, the cardiologist wanted me to try a statin again. He felt that Crestor was less apt to cause problems for me. Willing to do what is necessary to help my heart, I started on Crestor.

During my three months of cardiac rehab, I began to feel better and better. I was partway through rehab before the doctor started me on Crestor. I had a couple of physical problems before rehab was done, but they could be easily explained by the possibility that the persistent low-grade fever was caused by a "bug" and that the painful cramp in my right shoulder was caused by adding some new exercises to my routine.

However. . .

In the weeks after rehab, I began having more and more (and more severe) peculiar things happening in my body. When my hands began going numb and numbness and tingling spread to other spots on my body and the fever was back and I had a very severely painful episode with my right shoulder and upper back, it was back to doing a little research on the internet.

And, yes, all of these things can be caused by statin drugs.

I called the doctor's office. When the nurse called back, the message was that another statin was being prescribed. I looked up that drug and found listed the same possible side effects that Lipitor and Crestor have.

I quit taking Crestor and I will never take another statin. What will it profit me to reduce my cholesterol levels if I destroy my body from the inside? Some of the statin side effects can do so much harm to internal organs that it becomes fatal.

Anne Marie found some good research online about recovering from statin damage. I purchased some books on reducing bad cholesterol without drugs. I have some studying to do and some applying what I learn.

I have been off Crestor for six days now. The numbness is almost gone, the fever is gone, the pain in my shoulder and back is almost gone, and the increase in heart palpitations and my essential tremor has stopped. No new cramps, pains, or numbness have appeared.

I will go for another blood test after I have been on a new regime for a few weeks, so that I can track my progress.

Statins are the most prescribed of all drugs in the U.S. They apparently are real lifesavers for many, many people. For some they are the opposite. Unfortunately, I am one of the latter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Progress Report

A while back I wrote about my weight gain and the difficulty in taking off pounds, while putting them on is sooooo easy.

Why do I write about this? It is a way of keeping me focused and accountable. If I tell others I am taking steps to lose weight, I am more apt to actually keep at it.

Some progress has been made.

My target is a 30 pound loss. At that weight I am comfortable. I no longer even have a goal of weighing what I did in the years from age 20 to age 50. My metabolism and activity levels kept me naturally slim in those years. I can quite happily settle for "medium" at this stage of life, and it should be easier for me to maintain.

So--progress. In the past five months since the procedure to put a stent in my "widowmaker" heart artery, I have lost almost half my goal. I have about 16 pounds to go, but I can already wear some clothes that have been hanging in my closet waiting for me to be able to fit into them again. I had clothes I could wear to church yesterday that were not jeans and a loose shirt!

I am not using any weight-loss program. I've done Nutrisystem in the past, but gained the weight back. This time I am simply trying to eat heart-healthful foods, smaller amounts, and exercise at least a little every day. At cardio rehab the recommended amount of exercise is at least 30-60 minutes a day, five days per week. This is primarily leg exercise, which is what does the heart the most good (walking, peddling, etc.).

The weight is coming off slowly; I hope this will make putting weight on less likely, as my eating change becomes eating habit.

And, now, just for fun, here is a photo of son-in-law Chad and his friend Pip at the Sunday dinner table on March first.

Pip says, "More please."