Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another personal triumph

It first began 2 years ago. I was walking in downtown Houston when my calves suddenly tightened up on me. I could barely walk. Instinctively, I knew to stop and rest; a minute later I resumed and my legs were much better.

That was the first time.

It got worse. As the months passed, I noticed the pain more often. A 5-minute walk would produce sore legs. Going up and down stairs would lockup my calves. The pain could be excruciating, but a short rest would make it go away. Until the next episode. I knew it should be checked out by a doctor, but I had no insurance and decided to just live with it. So I walked less; that was my treatment. I'm an alcoholic with alcoholic thinking.

Then, about a year ago, I saw a commercial (public service announcement) on TV which described my ailment perfectly. They called it Peripheral Artery Disease (click for more info). It was akin to artery blockage around the heart, except it affects the limbs instead. Not good. So, I decided it was finally time to get a health insurance policy. I did a lot of research and made that purchase. Then I went to visit a real doctor for a professional diagnosis. My suspicions were correct and I asked the doctor about treatment. She told me PAD was caused by smoking (I smoked 3 packs/day for the past 36 years). She said my ailment could be cured by stopping smoking and getting proper exercise. Failure to do so could have tragic consequences. I had no intention of stopping smoking. So I joined a gym and went a few times for some leg work on the eliptical (bicycle-type exercise) but did not take it seriously. My legs just got worse.

Fast forward to last October when I finally decided to stop smoking. yeaaaaa!!! Then I put on a quick 25 pounds. This was my motivation to get some exercise. I got a bicycle. I wrote to you guys about this, just a couple or three months ago. It didn't seem to help my legs, but I enjoyed riding. Then, finally, Hayden talked me into hiring a personal trainer and committing to regular workouts at the gym. This would enable me to lose the extra 2 inches I had put around my waist. I hate the extra weight and size as much as the leg problems.

So at the beginning of June (a month ago) I began working out with my new trainer. (I'll admit that he's certainly a pleasure to look at.) Each workout was proceeded by a warmup session which included time on the treadmill. At first, I could only go 5 or 6 minutes before my calves would lock up. I set a goal of adding 1 minute to each session. This seemed to be working and I could sense some tangible improvement. By the start of last week, I was up to 12 mintues. Not much to most of you, but huge to me. Then, on Wednesday, my goal was to make 13 minutes. But my legs felt just fine at 13 minutes and I stopped at 15 minutes so I could get on with my other exercise. Friday was the same; no pain in the legs. Yesterday, the same. I stopped at 20 mintues but could have gone on indefinitely.

I have a lower extremity stress test scheduled later in July as part of my physical exam that has not been completed. But as I sit here and type this, I am pretty damn sure that my artery disease in my legs is cured. Stop smoking. Get exercise. That's the medication.

Just another miracle in a continuing series.


johno said...

Great to hear your progress. My PT is fit, but not my type (today) Its true, excersize is good for us, sadly there seems to be no getting away from it (grrr)

Scott W said...

There is a lot we can accomplish in sobriety! Congrats!

Mary Christine said...

That is wonderful. So many people (even sober ones) will not make the changes they need to make to live a healthy life. I am so glad you did.

lushgurl said...

Look at you all healthy and stuff, way to go dAAve!
ps...maybe you'll be around for another 150 years!

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Great! Pat yourself on the back!
Eating well works miracles too. And drinking water.

Pam said...

I love the one minute increment goals! I think we sometimes set such lofty goals for ourselves that we become exhausted. That's a good lesson for your take baby steps in Everything we do. you so cool.

peanut said...

Dear dAAve,

thank you for sharing that.
I am so proud of you.
I so want to lose this weight I have put on. But, I have to stop eating that junk I'm eating and get to walking.

I will do it, starting today.
It will be a huge help to me if I commit to doing just that.
I, kathy f, commit to you, dAAve and myself to get back on a healthy diet and on the treadmill.
I love you. I want to save my life too. Thanks sweetie.

Shannon said...

That is great daave, I am glad you are getting over this.
keep it up
I have been busting by butt.. LOL and getting down in weight and inches too... sheesh its hard work. But its coming off. I am grateful

Tab said...

Thank you for sharing and reminding me to keep looking after this body of mine I lug around..I want it to purrr like a Cadillac one day instead of feeling like an old tow
Keep us progress on all that helps you trim down and energize :)
beep beep! xo

Piglet said...

very happy for you dave, thanks for sharing it. a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will also aid in reducing clogged arteries.

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