Slice of Chaotic Life

The daily life of a celibate middle-aged man.

Archive for February, 2012

My heart loves fat?

Posted by Itlandm on February 25, 2012

My heart is crazy. And I don’t mean that in a romantic way. Rather, it is the old blood pump, the organ that more than any other should benefit from me shedding a couple more pounds. It does its best to sabotage it, or so it seems.

See, I used to weigh just over 94 kg (208 lb) for many years. A little more some days, but never much, no matter that I ate what I wanted and moved no more than I wanted to. But then in Easter 2005 I had a mysterious illness, presumably of the liver judging from the symptoms. Since then, I have been unable to digest more than just a little fat each day. I also took up walking up and down hills in May that year, and between these things I lost 13% of my weight, down to 82 kg (180 lb). Not skeletal, but quite uncomfortable, as I was hungry even after meals and had to get up in the middle of the night to eat. So I was rather relieved when I put on a few more pounds, despite eating almost only carbohydrates. (Pasta in particular, lots and lots of pasta. But I also quite a bit of fruit yogurt.) This time my weight stopped on 89 kg (196 lb).

Last spring I started walking for an hour a day or so, mainly to ward off cancer, but later also to keep my pre-diabetes at bay. This is a fun and harmless activity, in general, and gives a great opportunity to think or meditate while walking. But it also causes me to lose a few pounds of weight before my appetite jumps up to compensate. And when I reach 85 kg (187 lb) weird things happen with my heart.

The first, and perhaps not so strange, is that my resting pulse falls. It is normally 55-60, which is pretty decent for a well-trained man (which I am not – I have not run more than a few steps since I was small, due to exercise asthma). When my weight comes down, my resting pulse creeps down to 50 or even below sometimes. That is just plain creepy: For someone with only 66% lung capacity, I ought to have a pulse of 80 or so. But there are no symptoms, so I assume my body is simply trying to save energy.

The next thing that happens is that my heart rhythm starts to get irregular. My heart will randomly beat twice as hard or not at all. This is also something that happens to a lot of people (especially if they drink coffee) and is not fatal in itself. However, people with this condition are more likely to die from sudden heart stop / heart flimmer if they exercise hard. Some people die during marathons and such each year, and these are they. Not much risk of me running a marathon, admittedly.

When any of these things fail to keep me indoors, my heart will suddenly start beating much faster during light exercise, or at random times – often a while after exercise – start racing at its maximum speed. (Around 190 now, I believe it was higher in 2005 when it did the same. That was the last time I was that slim.)  It goes on like this for perhaps 10 minutes, and remains much faster than usual for the rest of the day, even if I sit quietly.

This year I have only had one heart race episode, but the slow pulse and irregular beats seem to predictably occur every time I dip below 85 kg.

I have never heard of anyone else with this syndrome. I mean, I have heard of each of the three symptoms, they are not uncommon and are generally not considered dangerous in moderation. But the combination of them, ticking in one after another each time I lose weight, that is new to me. Then again, we are all unique, aren’t we?


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Posted by Itlandm on February 21, 2012

Here in Norway, SHOUTING is generally a sign of extreme excitement, usually anger and occasionally fear. Evidently this is very different in Afghanistan, because the asylum-seekers upstairs are SHOUTING DAY AND NIGHT. When I am awake and alert I can hear from their tone of voice that they are not actually on the verge of murdering anyone and the house is not on fire. It is more like if they were standing next to a waterfall trying to make themselves heard. (They certainly succeed.) I assume a strong voice is seen as a manly ideal much like strong muscles. Or indoors voice has not been invented yet. Perhaps everyone lived on horseback until just recently. Anyway, after fifty years in Norway it is kind of ingrained to wake up when people are SHOUTING AT THE TOP OF THEIR LUNGS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!!

Luckily I am only renting here. Foreigners may be nature’s way of telling me to look for a new place to live. ^_^

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Outdoors again

Posted by Itlandm on February 12, 2012

After somewhere around a month of ice on the walk-roads, the recent milder weather with sunny days has laid the ground bare on most of them. I could finally take a long walk again without risking life and limb, so I walked for an hour and a quarter.

My daily commute includes nearly a quarter of an hour of walking each way, so I am not completely atrophied, even apart from my attempted biking.

Even so, I must have stored up quite a bit of energy, because even though I walked as fast as I could without running (where the terrain allowed it, at least) my pulse remained ridiculously low.

I would not mind if this weather continued for a while. But of course it is not a big thing. If I was eager enough to exercise, I would find a way to spend more than an hour at a time doing so every day. But walking fast is my favorite.

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Four-fanged vampire?

Posted by Itlandm on February 7, 2012

I seem to have been bitten by some creature  with four sharp fangs while I slept. Or perhaps I have impaled myself on a four-teethed fork without noticing, and without poking holes in my clothes. Actually, probably neither of these, but I have no reasonable explanation for these punctures. In normal light the central peak of each puncture is the color of dried blood, which it almost certainly is. Given the limited amount of it, and the absence of pain at any time, I assume the punctures were quite shallow. Therefore I am not going for a tetanus shot.

Anyway, it pleases me that this happens when I have lots of penicillin in the blood anyway, but I am still baffled as to what happened in the first place. I know I am not particularly sensitive to low-level pain (agony is another matter) but seriously, four punctures without noticing anything at all until I happened to see it? Weird.

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Dentist & penicillin

Posted by Itlandm on February 6, 2012

I went to the dentist for the half-year routine check. This was very good timing, since one of my two synthetic teeth was loose again. I assumed it was broken – it was not the usual one, but still, these things seem to break occasionally. Unfortunately it was worse. An infection had developed between the root and the jawbone, and a dark spot showed on the X-ray. If it gets to develop, the tooth may fall out entirely, root and all. The dentist will refer me to a jaw surgeon for scraping out the infection, and is giving me penicillin in the meantime. I am not sure how effective that is if there is already an abscess, or even whether these bacteria react to it. But it is worth a try, I guess. Tooth root infections are known to leak bacteria into the blood, where they may among other things increase plaque in the arteries.

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My legs hate biking

Posted by Itlandm on February 2, 2012

Biking seems like a good idea. It is not purely natural, like walking, running, climbing and swimming; but thanks to the ancient invention of gears, you can adjust the load to your muscles instead of the other way around, at least to some degree. And thanks to more recent inventions, you can now have indoors exercise bikes that take relatively little room and provide a way to work your leg muscles and your heart and lungs.

It did seem like a good idea, which was why I bought one shortly after I moved to Nodeland, two houses ago. It has followed me to this day, but I still don’t use it much. This is because even though I like biking, my legs hate it, and they make their opinion known quite clearly.

While I can walk fast for an hour or two before getting tired, I can only bike with a similar pulse for less than half an hour, even shorter if I don’t hop off now and then and stretch my legs.  It has been like this since a month or so after I got the bike (it was even worse when it was new, since I had not biked for years and years).

One of the cool things about exercise is that the more you do it, the better you get. Or so it is with every other form of exercise I have tried or heard of. But not biking! There is no progress at all. The next day it is just as bad if not worse. The next week it is just as bad. And the week after that my knees start hurting so bad I have to stop biking so I can continue to go to work.  By the time the knee pain has fully disappeared, so has any tiny progress I might have made in the week or two before the pain started. Back to the starting line!

Now for a couple weeks, the roads have been so slippery that walking is a slow and cautious adventure, undertaken only for urgent needs like yogurt and dark chocolate.  I have tried to at least use the exercise bike as much as my body lets me get away with, so as to keep the old blood pump running. (I am still single and celibate, so the more attractive indoors exercise is not an option.) Thus my sudden mention of biking and why it doesn’t behave the way I want it to.

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