aging · Health · Menopause · Running · Uncategorized

Outrunning old age?

Cholesterol1

For all my adult life, going in for my annual physical was alot like going to Adam’s parent/teacher conferences when he was growing up – all  warm fuzzies and “You’re doing a great job” and “No problems here.”  After all, I’m not overweight, I run, I don’t smoke, I eat lots of fruits and vegetables – and did I mention, I run? Running has felt like my talisman against any health issues – after all, if I can run a half-marathon, surely nothing could be wrong with my body, right?

Wrong.

I recently went for a bone scan and bloodwork at my new doctor’s office, a very personable OBGYN who was recommended to me as someone who has a concentration on women in “my stage of life”. (Unlike the girls of today who have no problem mentioning their – um, periods –  around the opposite sex, I still feel akward saying I am in “menopause”, but there it is.) I was not surprised at the results of the bone scan, showing that I am going down the slippery slope to osteoperosis, since my mother and grandmothers all had it, and my scan from several years ago showed bone loss. I was prepared to have to start weight lifting and maybe even some sort of hormone therapy. What I was not prepared for was the results of my bloodwork, showing that I – the runner- now have high cholesterol!

Surely the lab made a mistake and got my blood mixed up! In our family, Keith’s side has the cholesterol and heart issues and my side has cancer, plain and simple. My parents always ate whatever they wanted, and even though my mother was pretty heavy on the cheese and butter,  never had cholesterol problems. My mother and grandmothers didn’t really die of anything specific, but basically just wore out at an old age. Keith’s family on the other hand, have all died at fairly young ages of heart related problems. I’m always on him about his eating and worry about his cholesterol, so he thinks this change is pretty humorous – I feel like my body has tricked me!

My research has shown  that cholesterol often goes up in ladies in my “stage of life”. Great. Here’s the other kicker – I have struggled all my life with my weight – in fact, sadly I have based much of my self-worth on what the scale says – and the last few months I have gotten down to a very good weight for me. So get this – osteoporosis is worse in thin people, because if you are carrying around a lot of pounds, your bones are getting weight bearing work all the time! Is there no justice here?

So here’s my confession – even though I know in my head that at least 90% of my good health all my life comes from my genes, I have still harbored a certain feeling of superiority in my low blood pressure, good cholesterol, and ability to pretty much do whatever I feel like. Now I am having to admit that just because I am a runner, I am not immune to my body letting me down. I’m just thankful it is not worse.

I go this week to talk with my sweet doctor, but I pretty much know what she will say – I need to do more cross training so that I am exercising every day, not just those few running days, weight bearing for my bones, and more focus on my diet – I guess I need to  cut back on the red meat and sweets, and  drink red wine(!) We will discuss hormones, although I am not so sure I want to go down that road. I feel like the student who has made a bad grade and has to face the music.

Isn’t it sad that I am feeling guilty over what is a normal part of aging? I don’t apologize for my gray hair and wrinkles, yet I feel like it is my fault that these other changes are happening.

What has been your experience?

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Outrunning old age?

  1. My bones are fine so far, loss wise. Not a familial issue for me and I’ve not been thin in a long time. I have had work related back pain issues. Yes, lifting/moving patients and countless hours laboring women and twisting in unnatural positions to deliver and repair them so they’d have the experience they wanted have done a number on me. I’ve had to give up walking for exercise, which made the pain worse, and discovered that spin biking strengthened my core and reduced the pain dramatically. I’ve done the benefits/risks ratios for hormones, and in my case I was comfortable using them. I don’t have a familial breast cancer risk, but hormones can decrease the risk for colon/GI cancer, which is more prevalent in my family. We all have to make decisions based on what’s best for us. Personally, I’m happier, more content, at this age than any I’ve experienced so far. Even with the aches and pains that go along with it. I offer Hubby for free medical advice and detailed information on the subjects if you’d like.

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    1. You are a role model for me for aging gracefully, Jennifer! The whole hormone thing scares me, since we do have colon cancer in my family. Would love Jim’s opinion! Also, I have an aunt who worked her whole career as a nurse and has a lot of back issues due to that and water aerobics really helped her. Maybe they will start a class at the new CHS pool.

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  2. Pay close attention to your ratio, not just the total cholesterol. I bet your HDL is great with all your athletic pursuits. And sorry about the osteopenia– guess that’s one thing I have to be grateful for as a fat girl!! Time to start weight training! But I know what you mean about the feeling guilty about your body letting you down– why? You are doing all the right things– some things are just beyond our control, but it’s hard to accept. Love you, Millicent– thanks for the great post, as usual.

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