Oh Boy! New Toy

I’ve got a new BiPAP machine. That is a slightly different therapy for apnea than I was on before. This machine has one pressure for when I breath in another pressure for when I breath out. Also, this one is a lot more high tech than my last one.

This one has a color display screen where you set the options and read the settings. It also has a built in cellular modem so it automatically uploads my data every morning after I get up. They can also do remote diagnostics and adjust the pressure without my having to take it in to the office.

They also have a web site where I can review the data that the machine uploaded about my sleep quality. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I am a self quantification hobbyist. That is to say, I record my blood pressure, my blood sugar, my temperature, my weight, my body weight, my body fat, my bone mass, and my BMI every morning. I also record my steps and my heart rate using my Fitbit. My Fitbit also keeps track of how many flights of stairs I climb and estimates when I’m sleeping and when I’m awake from my movement and heart rate. This machine is going to add a bunch of new parameters to my daily collection routine.

Why do I do the self quantification thing? I have ambitions to one day do some analysis to see if I can figure out anything about my health. In the mean time, it’s just another of my weird OCD behaviors. I’m a typical nerd. I get a few weird quirks with the nerd package.

I Think I Passed The Test

I wrote a post yesterday. I apparently didn’t press publish. I think I actually did press post but somehow it didn’t get posted. It doesn’t matter. I know I wrote a post yesterday, as I am writing a post today. It just turns out that yesterdays post will have today’s date on it. But that’s beside the point. On to today’s topic.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post about my sleep study, I think the protocol for sleep studies needs some serious revision. They spent two hours at the beginning of my study last night “establishing a baseline”. That’s doctor speak for having me try to sleep without my mask.

At this point they know I have serious apnea. When I was originally tested I stopped breathing sixty times in an hour. That’s a rate of once a minute. For those that don’t have apnea it is difficult to explain the sensation of waking up gasping for air. Surely it doesn’t take two hours for them to establish that I am still in desperate need of the device.

Why did I have to submit to this barbaric study. (Please note: the protocol was barbaric. The sleep technician was a great guy who was just doing his job.) That’s easy, the insurance company wanted to be sure that I still needed this device. In other words we are once again allowing a corporation to practice medicine without a license. This is one of my pet peeves.

The rest of the night went fairly well. At first the pressure was lower than ideal but that was still preferable to no air pressure at all without the mask. Then, there was a little bit of discomfort at the end of the calibration procedure when they had increased the pressure past the optimal stage and air was leaking out the side of the mask and coming out of my mouth and waking me up. I did sleep fairly well throughout the calibration though.

I do get a new, improved CPAP machine for my troubles. I just can’t imagine why they can’t figure out that I need the damn thing without torturing me like that. I’m going to talk to the doctor about it when we have the follow up appointment.

Enough of my first world problems. I wish you all sweet dreams. Remember to tell the people you love that you love them and most important of all, be kind.

Is There Going To Be A Test?

I’m heading to the sleep clinic for a sleep study. I haven’t had one for many years. I am told that things have changed significantly since my last study. I am not worried about it. I have sleep apnea and I have worn a mask connected to a CPAP machine every night for twenty five years or so. I can’t believe that some people don’t use their machines. It is the reason that I’m able to get any sleep at all.

I am a little annoyed by the fact that my routine is going to be interrupted. I know they try not to let it happen but it is unavoidable. I may have to postpone writing my words until later in the day. I won’t have access to my scales to get all the daily statistics off of them. I am one of the people they call a “self-quant”. That stands for self quantification and it means that you routinely collect all kinds of statistic on yourself like weight, temperature, blood pressure, etc.

I started doing it to keep track of my blood sugar when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. I kept adding on measurements until know I collect nine different parameters every morning. I have grand plans to apply some of my data analytical skills to the mass of data that I’ve collected but I doubt that I ever will.

I also write my journal entry every morning. I guess I’ll have to fit it in somewhere else in the day. If I recall, they get done with the study fairly early in the morning and you finish up in plenty of time to get to work earlier than I usually do. I am hoping to get a newer, lighter, CPAP that has automated instrumentation. We’ll see how that works out.

Sleep well, have good dreams, tell the people you love that you love them, and most important, be kind.

Veterinarian Day

We took Belle, our Maltipoo, and Cory, our cat, to the vet today. I took the day off to help. No one needs to try to wrangle two pets at the same time by themselves. Belle got her shots and a clean bill of health. Cory, on the other hand, had us worried for a while. He has been having problems with coughing for quite a while. Pam had looked up his symptoms on the internet and was prepared for the worst.

The vet said he had a heart murmur but he also looked very pale. She said that it could be Feline Lukemia, Congestive Heart Failure, or something else. We decided to go ahead with some X-rays and other diagnostics. Since it would take a while to do the diagnostics, Pam, Belle, and I went to Pam’s parents’ house for lunch.

When we got back to the vet’s office, we were relieved to hear that Cory only had asthma. His heart problems may get worse later in life but for now, medication should help him breath easier.

On the way home, Belle got her McDonald’s hamburger for being a good girl at the vet. Cory was so relieved to be done with the vet visit that he actually nodded off in his pet taxi.

We spent most of the day on the road and waiting in waiting rooms but in the end, our fur children’s health was worth the effort. We’re home at last and ready to get back to our normal routine. As much as it can be said that anything we do around here can vaguely be called normal.

I’m So Thankful for My Health

It is disconcerting to hear stories of people having serious age related medical incidents and then realizing that they are the same age as you are or younger. It is at times like these that one realizes how blessed they are to be in as good a health as they are.

My employer conducts an annual fitness program where they give any employee that averages over 13,000 steps a day for six weeks a hundred dollar gift card from Amazon. This is remarkably motivating for me. It is not that $100 is that much money. I could set aside $100 for something without much hardship. The important thing from my perspective is that it is $100 that I can spend on something frivolous for myself without feeling like I’m being irresponsible.

I have managed to earn the card for two years running and I am on the last day of the first week of this year’s program. So far, I have walked 86,072 steps in the first six days for an average of 14,345 steps/day. I am trying to build up a reserve of steps walked so that if I have a day where I don’t manage to make the 13,000 step quota, I will have some extra steps “in the bank” so to speak.

One thing I notice this year, I am falling into the pattern more quickly. I sleep better and require less sleep to feel completely rested. I am losing weight again after being stuck on a plateau for most of the year. Actually, I have been gaining about a pound a month over the last year. I have managed to lose back to where I was at the end of last year’s event already.

I made the mistake of deciding to take a couple of weeks off at the end of the last event. It didn’t work out well. I had been walking every day and I fell back to walking two or three times a week. I went from an average of over 14000 steps/day to an average of ~6500 steps/day. It showed up both in my gradual weight gain and an overall reduction in my general health. For instance, my A1C, an indicator of long term blood sugar, went up from below 6.0 to 6.7. That is not phenomenally bad, especially for a diabetic, but it is an indication that the walking was helping.

This year I intend to keep walking after the event is over. I may set my expectations down to just making my 13,000 steps instead of trying to save up extra steps but maybe not. I will definitely keep the daily walk as a part of the regime.

This brings me back to where I started. I am so very thankful for my health. I have a lot of things that I still want to do and I need to take care of my health so that I will be around to do them. I didn’t mention my mostly vegetarian diet but I’ll save the details of that for another post.

Time to Think About Some Goals

I forget who it was that taught me this little gem but in my experience, it has turned out to be true. If you want to insure that you accomplish things, write them down on a list. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you write them on paper with a pen or pencil or you type them into a computer. The relevant thing is that you’ve spent the time thinking about them and formulating them into words and as you write or type them, you are, in effect, programming your brain to accomplish them. I often don’t even bother to check the items off the list as I accomplish them. Just making the list is enough to focus my intent. I occasionally run across lists that I’ve made, either in old notebooks or in files in some obscure sub-directory of my Documents folder, and I’ll look at them and discover that I’ve accomplished most, if not all, of the items on the list.

So, I want to make some goals for myself. There are three categories of goals that I intend to attempt to capture today:

  • Health goals
  • Project goals
  • Financial goals

Let’s take Health goals first.

  • I want to lose at least 10 pouinds between the initial weigh in and the final weigh in of the “Scale Back Alabama” competition.
  • I want to get my daily fasting blood sugar down below 130 mg/dL.
  • I want to get my cholesterol panels all within ADA recommendations (that means boosting my HDL and getting my triglycerides down).
  • I want to stop spilling protein (that means mostly exercise, I think).
  • I want to get back on a schedule of daily exercise.
  • I want to quit reflexively eating everything on my plate.
  • Long term, I want to weigh less than 200 pounds.

Now some Project goals:

  • I want to maintain my habit of writing for at least 30 minutes a day (nominally between 10:00pm and 10:30pm).
  • I want to start posting to my blog, Occasional Comment (here) at least five times a week.
  • I want to finish the Radiosonde data analysis project for Bob.
  • I want to present at least once a quarter to the lunch and learn at work for a total of five times this year.
  • I want to write at least a science fiction short story and perhaps even a novel.
  • I want to finish the pilot of The Gentry.

And finally, some Financial goals:

  • I want to get completely out of debt.
  • I want to start a successful small consulting business to retire to.
  • I want to be able to save at least 20% of my income while paying all of my bills and having a comfortable lifestyle.
  • I want to have the money to get the house fixed up.
  • I want to be independently wealthy so long as it harms no one.

So there are my lists for now. I’m putting them out there. I’ll come back and check periodically to see how many items I’ve accomplished. I’ll probably write some more posts about them as events unfold.