The Heart of the Matter  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

As I steadily head down the "Long and Winding Road" (called life), I have become accustomed to the frequent aches and pains I associate with aging. Getting up in the morning sometimes feels like I've been beaten up in my sleep, and I dare not stretch my body, particularly my legs, to far lest I set off these terrible muscle spasms in my calves which can almost make me cry. But this latest ache, which I fervently hope is noting BUT an ache, had me more perturbed than usual. CHEST pain.

For several days I have experienced this mild but quite noticeable pain right in the middle of my chest, which got bad enough a few days ago to actually wake me in the middle of the night. It's not indigestion, which is a sensation I am quite familiar with. Yesterday at work, I took advantage of working were I do and hooked myself up to a portable cardiac monitor to see what my heart rhythm looked like. With the exception of a few PVC's (premature ventricular contractions), which can be triggered by caffeine (I HAD drank coffee earlier), the monitor revealed that I had what one could consider a rather unremarkable normal heart rhythm. Now, this does NOT rule out entirely that one could be suffering from an increasingly restricted artery due to plague buildup, but it was reassuring nonetheless. As this pain has not gotten any worse and might even be receding, I am going to write this pain off to the possibility that it was nothing more than a taxed chest wall muscle, since I do some serious pulling when helping to move patients around in bed, some of them very heavy people.

My mom died of emphysema, but her heart was strong. I am not aware of any major tendencies towards heart disease in the maternal side of my family, but I am clueless as to what kind of genetic time bombs my Father could have lent me (the bastard!), since he abandoned me at the age of seven and I have not seen him since. I have eaten fairly healthy, including a diet that excludes almost all red meat (we eat mostly chicken, turkey, and fish) and I quit smoking almost two years ago.

Still, it's been proven that although you can moderate your health through diet, exercise, and exposure to environmental toxins, your genetic code is still the premiere dictate as to how long you will live and the quality of your overall health. My mom always looked half her age, till the smoking overwhelmed her good genes, and even now I can pass for someone a few years younger, even with the grey hair and beard. So, I have advantages. I know I cost myself some years by smoking, but they claim that I will overcome some of the potential damage by quitting. I can only hope so, although I have resigned myself to having given up something like 20 years of my potential at least. Still, I want to at least collect ONE of my Social Security checks before I kick. If there's anything left to collect on, that is.

Still……..it was disconcerting. I'm not QUITE ready to check out Summerland……..not yet……….

This entry was posted on Monday, September 28, 2009 at Monday, September 28, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 slick comments

Michael, hooking yourself up or not - it might be an idea to have a doctor look at this. Chest pains are not something to fool around with.

September 28, 2009 at 2:52 PM

Cardiac Enzymes...times 3. An excellent blood test for smooth muscle damage.

September 28, 2009 at 11:41 PM

What selkie said. Better safe than sorry. I hope it's a muscle other than the heart.

September 29, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Smoking didn't take 20 years off your life. Research indicates smokers overestimate the hazards of smoking. The life span of smokers is 6-7 years less than non-smokers. However, you quit and you have enough years left to distance yourself from the effects of smoking.

Also, research indicates genes don't have the last word. Environmental influences turn off/on certain genetic traits so control your environment. Eat right, exercise, maintain strong relationships and stop watching the news!

Now, listen to your readers. Go see a doctor.

September 30, 2009 at 11:07 PM

Damn that DNA..if it's corrupt and YEA DNA if it's goooood :)
It certainly is true that despite living like an Olympic ahtlete your genetic code can and will shut it down without a moment's notice.

That's why I always say, "Life is a Garden DIG IT" because you never know when the Reaper is going to hoe you a new row.

It doesn't hurt to make wise choices and not tempt fate by living like a Rock Star, but in the end when your time is up, that's all folks.

Wow thanks for the cheery reminder.
Now get thee hence to a Cardiologith.

October 2, 2009 at 2:46 PM

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