Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The easy way to lose five pounds

So you have all these marketing campaigns to help people lose weight, and their advertisements say that they will give you your money back if you don't lose 5-6 pounds in the first week.  I have learned from my own personal experience that this is almost automatic.  If you are way overweight and you eat healthy for a week, you WILL lose at least five pounds. 

Technically speaking, if you don't lose five pounds in a week and you think you are eating healthy, then you probably aren't eating healthy. If you don't lose weight, it's your own fault -- so you shouldn't get your money back.  But it's a gimmick, you see.

Just to give an example, six days ago I wrote about my challenge for the remainder of 2015 to do the John for Life program.  This past week I have been busting my butt to do as much physical activity that I can, and I haven't even given 100% effort in any one of my workouts. Plus I have had more than the recommended cheat meals, and I have had a couple whiskey and cokes two of the past six days.  

However, other than that, most of my meals have been of the healthy variety.  I eat a small meal of a protein and a carbohydrate every 2-3 hours.  If I work night shift, sometimes I eat every 2-3 hours for a 24 hour period.  

So you'd think I would have gained weight, right? Wrong!  Just as I planned, I have lost five pounds in the first weekj.  If I were doing one of those weight loss gimmicks, I would be out of luck.  Plus I would probably have to starve myself, which would result in me crashing and failing.

I have learned that you can lose weight while eating all the foods you love, so long as you do so responsibly. You ideally should exercise, but you should be aware of the fact that exercising has little to do with weight loss.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

John for Life

Cartier park's bike path
Okay, so in the past I have been very healthy.  My wife and I first did the Body for Life Program (BFL) in 2002 with the hopes of looking good in our wedding pictures.  We did two successive 12 week programs, and by May 4, 2003, we were both looking fit and thin for our pics.  I have evidence of this.

But then life happens.  Once we were settled into married life we had Callie. So when you're wife gets pregnant, you gain weight with her.  So my wife and I had to once again do the body for life to, once again, lose 40 pounds.  So by 2004, when we moved to our new home, I personally was 180 pounds and looking and feeling good.  

In fact, I remember running laps around Cartier Park's scenic paths with ease.  

Of course then we had Laney and Myles.  There was a five year gap between Callie and Laney so we were both able to maintain our weight loss.  For about five years I weighed around 180 pounds, which is an ideal weight to maintain for me (like you care).  

So I gained weight once again with Laney.  Then we lost some, but then came Myles.  I promised myself this time I wouldn't gain weight with her, and I succeeded.  But then the burden of having two kids resulted in me getting over 200 pounds again.  

Yep, that's life.  Life with four kids is not the same as life with no kids, or even life with one kid.  I have many friends who have one kid and are able to stay in shape, and I only have a few friends who have three or four kids who are thin.  The reason, I am now convinced, is because it's hard to do.  Married life, and kids, make it hard to stay in shape.  

Some people just accept this as a fact and they go about their lives.  They just go to Walmart and buy larger clothing (fat clothes).  They go to McDonalds or Burger King and enjoy foods that make them happy.  They are normal.  

But then you have people like me.  I don't want to refer to myself as abnormal, but I probably could.  With a lung disease, I find that once I get beyond a certain weight life becomes increasingly difficult -- I should say that breathing becomes increasingly difficult.  As you may know if you follow my posts, fat tissue may actually cause and trigger asthma

On January 1, 2015, I made a New Year's Resolution that I was once again going to get in shape.  So every Monday I start, and by Tuesday something happens where I fall off the wagon.  Sometimes it's a friend asking me if I want to go out for a beer, sometimes it's stress from work, and sometimes it's something else. Either way, I keep falling off.  

So here I am on June among the 92% of people who fail to keep their New Year's Resolution.  Yet then I started thinking: the year is not over.  So I calculated it out that if I lose 6 pounds in week one of the BFL -- which I like to call John for Life (JFL) , and I lose two pounds a week (minus a week for hunting camp and a week for a Florida vacation) I can easily (with a lot of hard work -- lol) achieve my New Year's goal.  

I have written about the benefits of exercise more than once. Now it's time to get back on the path to enjoying those benefits once again.  Here's wishing good luck to myself on my journey

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Common allergies bear no attention

Diseases like Cancer are far more worthy of public funding than allergies.
So I wake up in the morning with crusty eyes that are itchy, almost burning.  My nose is stuffy and runny at the same time.  My chest feels tight.  I feel as though I should scratch my eyeballs and pull my hair out (yes I still have a full head of hair).  But I don't.  I just grin and bear it.  I try to fall back asleep.  

But then I give in and get up.  I take a couple puffs of my inhaler, but the relief I get is minimal and only temporary.  I then walk to the kitchen and take two Claritins in desperation, knowing that one won't do any good, and two probably won't either.  I then take two Sudafed, a medicine that will give me some relief, maybe take the edge off maybe not.  

So I learn to grin and bear it.

I don't tell people I have it.  Yes, allergic/ asthma is terribly uncomfortable, but it's not deadly: it's not going to kill me.  In fact, just the opposite: Dr. Henry Osler, the father of modern medicine, once quipped: "Asthmatics pant into old age."  

You could add to that a person with allergies sniffles and sneezes to old age. It's not a fun way to live, although it, like I said, not deadly. It's not cancer. It's not cardiopulmonary arrest. It's not a broken spine. It's not influenza. It's not near drowning. It's not (name some deadly disease).  

All of those things got the attention and sympathy of the people with money to spend for most of history, and rightly so.  Asthma and allergies causes much suffering, but little else.  We, to repeat the cliche, are forced to grin and bear it.  

The sickness isn't enough to keep us from working.  However, it is enough to keep us from working in dusty factories, or riding on horses that ride on dusty pastures.  In a sense, I probably wouldn't be a respiratory therapist if I could do normal guy jobs, like digging holes, fixing wires inside old, musty homes, or cleaning basements.  

Unless you say something, no one will know there is anything wrong with you.  And, so long as you live a normal, humble life, you won't tell anyone your dilemma. They may observe the red eyes, or hear your sneeze, but at the worse they will assume you have a simple, harmless, common cold. 

So no progress is made. A hundred years from now, while other diseases are cured, people will still be sniffling, sneezing and wheezing.  

In other words, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and rightly so.  Perhaps after cancer is cured, then people with money can pay scientists to focus on curing asthma and allergies. Until then, we must grin and bear it. 

Saturday, June 06, 2015

The best allergy medicine is cold medicine

Cold medicine is the best allergy medicine
So 75% of asthmatics also have allergies.  Most cases of asthma are now relatively easy to control so long as you make a gallant attempt at being a Gallant Asthmatic. So the problem for most of us is not the asthma component, but the allergy component.  Despite what some experts say, there is no ideal treatment for preventing and controlling allergies.  

It is true that there are medicine you can try to prevent the allergic response.  I list them in my post "The Best Allergy Medicines to Treat Allergic Asthma."  But other than Benadryl, which causes somnolence, most of these have hardly any effect.  To me, allergy shots were a waste of time for everyone except the people who made money off it.  

The same is true with taking medicines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Singulair.  Surely I've tried to take them every day, but come pollen season my chest becomes tight, my nose gets stuffy, and my eyes burn and itch. My doctor even noted to me once that he has never had a patient on Singulair notice any benefit from it, so he advised me to quit taking it.  Considering each pill was $1 each at the time, and that my allergies were raging despite being on it for five years, I followed his advice quite eagerly.  

You can try to avoid your allergens, but good luck with that.  I mean, who else is going to sweep your garage or clean your basement?  So when you do those things, you end up with an allergy attack, which means you will probably have an asthma attack.  

Now, my friends are known to say, "So, why didn't you wear a mask?"  I usually say, "Because it doesn't do any good.  Plus, even if I don't inhale the dust, it will still irritate my eyes.  So do you want me to simply wear an astronaut suit when I sweep my garage, or mow my lawn?  I mean, that would be a freaky site.  I'd be the talk of the town.  "Hey, look guys!  There's Mr. Bottrell mowing the lawn again!  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha


I'm willing to make some sacrifices, but I'm not willing to go that far.  I'm willing to have uncles and brothers and hired hands do all the maintenance around the house.  I'm willing to do that (although I sometimes feel stupid for having someone else do what I feel I should be doing). But I'm not willing to live in a bubble.  My dad calls me to go to the cabin, and I'm not going to sit around my house regretting that I didn't spend time with my dad.  So I go to the cabin and risk the allergic asthma response.  

So, I do not do allergy shots.  I do not take Claritin.  I do not take Zyrtec.  I do not take Singulair.  So what do I take then to allay allergy symptoms?  Well, the best treatment is Benadryl, but I certainly can't take that during the day because it makes me sleepy.  What I do take, what I find works great, is cold medicine.

Probably just about any cold medicine will work just fine, but my wife (a nurse by the way) usually buys Sudafed or Sudafed PE.  When that's not around I sometimes take Robitussin.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Benadryl for Allergic Asthma

I have tried Claritin, Zyrtec, and Singulair to treat my allergies, and none of them seems to do much good.  I was hoping they would work, considering all are non drowsy.  I do, however, find that Benadryl works great.  I find that Benadryl works better than anything else in the world for allergic asthma.  
Consider, for example, that I have a severe allergy to dust mites.  So I'm in my basement cleaning up, and withing about a half hour I start to feel the symptoms: dry, itchy watery eyes, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and a stuffy nose that is runny and, let's not forget, sneezy.  
I find that benadryl works for all of these symptoms.  It doesn't cure me, but it makes me feel a lot better.  None of these other allergy medicines does any good.  It's like drinking water to cure a cold. It's like saying an incantation to cure a cold. They are, in essence, useless; a waste of money. 

Yet I continue to take a Claratin and a Zyrtec daily.  It kind of reminds me of the 1980s when I took a atropine and Intal, and in the 1990s atrovent.  I never noticed a benefit from any of those, but I kept on taking them.  Claratin, Zyrtec and Singulair are like that.  You take them hoping they will help and they don't.  

In this sense, modern allergy medicines are no better than 1930s asthma medicine.  It might give mild to moderate relief, or it might give a pseudo effect -- but it does not control, prevent, or treat allergies. And since it doesn't do any of that, exposure to allergens results in allergy symptoms and asthma.  

I suppose if you had mild allergies, then the non drowsy allergy medicines might work.  But when you have severe allergies like I do, you better just stick to the Benadryl.  The side effect is you'll have to learn to put up with the soporific effect.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Asthma Stupidity

Okay, so I know I'm not the only asthmatic to do this.  But I've been feeling so good lately that I got ambitions about cleaning my basement.  Yeah, well, that didn't end up well.  Sure the basement started to look nice, but about a million dust mites made their way to the tissues of my eyes and respiratory tract, and soon thereafter my chest was tight.  

So that was yesterday.  One benadryl, a few puffs of my ventolin inhaler, and I'm fine.  So today my chest is tight, my breathing tight, and I decide I need a breathing treatment.  Now, it must be understood here that my asthma has been so well for so long I don't remember where I put my nebulizer.  So here I am looking all over for it, including under the bed.  So what's under the bed?  That's right: more dust mites.  

So now my breathing is worse than when I started looking for it.  

Then I end up finding my air compressor, but for some reason there is no nebulizer cup with it.  I search the house, and finally decide there isn't one.  When I clean I sometimes toss old nebulzers.  When I do it I'm feeling good, so I don't think that I might be jettisoning my only one. 

So that's three acts of asthma stupidity. My eyes are itchy and burning, my chest is tight, my breathing short, and my anxiety level creeping up.  The good news is Breo has made it so my breathing is not terrible.  And the irritable eyes and stuffy nose are probably worse than the breathing.

Benadryl works great for me. Still, I don't want to be tired at my sister's party tonight.  Claratin and Zyrtec are about as worthless as using white magic.  So here I suffer. 

Still, a gallant asthmatic makes sure he has the supplies he needs at all times, even when -- especially when, he is feeling well.  A gallant asthmatics also avoids his asthma triggers so he doesn't get into trouble in the first place.  But avoiding triggers is no fun, hence the asthma dilemma. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Asthma Theory: Was I right?

So, I have been gloating, of sorts, how Breo allowed me to have three months of albuterol-less time. Did I say that?  Was it really the Albuterol?  I had a really good feeling the answer would come as soon as the first pollen particle fell from one of those oak trees in my front yard.  I would be right? 

Now, Breo is a nice medicine, as are all the inhaled corticosteroids, because they treat the chronic inflammation lining asthmatic airways.  They reduce this inflammation so that it is less sensitive to asthma triggers.  It makes it so you have better control, but it also makes it so asthma attacks are less severe when they do occur.  

This would explain why, even though I caught two colds over the past fall and winter, my asthma never got bad enough to really hold me back.  It would likewise explain why my asthma rarely, if ever, gets bad enough for me to require an ER visit. 

So, anyway, I made it three months without using my albuterol.  This streak, I figured, would come to an end once the pollen started to fall.  Still, I was hoping the the Breo would continue to work well enough to control the inflammation and prevent bronchospasm.  I hoped, that if I did feel test tightness, that fifteen minutes of waiting would allow the Breo time to open those airways up.  

This didn't happen.  Since April 1, 2015, I have felt a continued tightness in my chest.  The albuterol does help, although only for a little while. This is sort of how it has been for most of my life when exposed to my allergens, with pollen and dust mites being the big two.  

I am now back to normal.  To me, this is good asthma control.  I can function quite well like this.  I can even run. This is a major step up from the childhood I lived with brittle asthma.  Yet it still means that Breo did not cure my asthma. The reason my asthma did so well during the winder months was because I was, in essence, living in a bubble: the snow was covering up all the asthma triggers. 

That's fine.  I can live with this.  After all, I've been dealing with it my entire life.  Still, it was nice to think, if only for a few short months, that I was finally on a medicine that would allow me to enjoy complete asthma control.