Monday, February 19, 2007

The Care and Maintenance of an Aging Race Car

Well. I was almost too embarassed to call the doctor this morning, but with Boston a mere eight weeks off and feeling like I might never be able to run again, I put aside my pride and asked to see Dr. Boris. What with my father and all, it sometimes seems like I am seeing the good doctor more than his staff does.

Sitting in the examining room, Dr. Boris strolled in and greeted me with "That's quite the cough! How long have you had it?"

Off my look of amazement, Boris said he could hear me out in the waiting room way down the hall from his office. He pulled out his stethoscope and...

"I can't remember you sounding worse".

I have a respiratory tract infection. Brochial something or other, or maybe pneumonia. My brain is a little fuzzy and I just happily accepted the prescription I was given.

Long story short, I am taking the latest mega-antibiotic on the market, one of the new, take-one-a-day-for-five-days kill anything foreign that moves in your body and codeine for the kind the coughing that nearly doubles you over and let's not burst any blood vessels in that finely tuned cardio-vascular engine of yours. Oh yeah, and double your asthma medication...

Boris and I then went over all of my recent tests, blood and otherwise. His advice -

"Don't stop running," and in a tone that immediately caught my attention.

My good cholesterol was high and my bad cholesterol normal, or even low. All the other stuff was fabulous, great, couldn't be better...

But - for the first time in my life my fasting blood sugar was in the grey zone. Or as Dr. Boris put it, too high for a guy who runs as much as me. And different from the exact same blood tests I have been taking every year since I turned forty.

As Boris put it, a guy of my age, weight and body fat percentage, who exercises as much as I do, shouldn't have any resistance to insulin. But the shadow of my family's heart history and my father's genes loomed large.

Boris said that the only thing other than family history that would make my fasting blood sugar high was "stress". Should I laugh or cry? Might as well save that for later. Regardless of whether it was stress or genes, I just wanted to know what I could do. What could I do that would make a difference and allow me to be pro-active?

So Boris' advice, sound as always, was that the best cure by far, was prevention. I may not be able to control my genes - not yet - but I CAN control my lifestyle choices.

Boris and I went over the supplements I take. He urged me to double the fish oil I take, and said that by far the best Omega fatty acids come from steam distilled anchovies! Sardines have three times the good fish oil that salmon does! Hello, little fishies!

The aspirin a day, all the rest of my supplements were fine. But fish oil, twice a day, that was the ticket. Research has shown that the dosage of fish oil that Boris was suggesting could reduce inflamation, actually reverse damage and had the same effect as the medications used to treat early Type II Diabetes. Fish oil, and the omega fatty acids it contains, can reduce blood sugar, whether it was caused by stress OR genes, or just by my father genes AND stress.

We talked a little bit about my diet and drinking habits and lifestyle and Boris finally kicked me out with, "Just keep doing what you're doing, Vince. Keep running".

So rather than running away from bad news, I'm running towards a healthy lifestyle.

And given the stresses in my life, will take it a little easier in my training and on my aging chasis. Thank God for my heart rate monitor, Dr. Boris and Jeff Galloway.

The bug I picked up was probably given a foothold because of both the stress in my personal life and the over-training I have been pushing up against - another form of stress on the body which lowers the body's immune system's response.

All things in moderation. Except the fish oil...


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