There are a few fancy medical words which make it a diagnosis rather than just something people have, but they’re long winded. This is the latest thing that seems to have cropped up. Having high cholesterol is something normally considered to be age related, but for some reason mine is super high. Even with my very healthy (and cholesterol friendly) diet, it’s still crazily high.
Cholesterol is a sticky, waxy thing in your blood which your body uses to make new cells. So you need a bit of it, but too much of the bad stuff just clogs everything up and puts you at risk of things like heart disease and stroke. In a lot of cases, changes to lifestyle such as eating lower fats and less processed foods and exercising more reduces cholesterol. Or giving up smoking and alcohol. Some people might have to take statins, a drug which reduces cholesterol. However, like with every other bloody thing at the moment, it’s not that simple for me to do! Here’s why:
– general energy for existing is over exertion for me so I can’t exercise much, if at all. This makes me high risk
– taking statins would reduce my cholesterol level but it would still be above the threshold for an acceptable level.
– I’ve probably got some genetic trait because statins and my existing diet should drastically help lower cholesterol. But it’s not.
– I’ve been put on a fancy new medication that helps absorb it and isn’t widely available here. But it’s new so no one knows what will happen side effects wise long term.
– I used to take statins for my cholesterol but then I developed non alcoholic fatty liver disease. Statins increase the fat in your liver so I was taken off them to avoid doing permanent damage to my liver. Now that my liver is slightly less grumpy, we can look at cholesterol again. But at some point I imagine my liver will get angry again so I might have to stop them. It’s a balancing act.
– I already fulfil a lot of the high risk criteria for stroke and heart disease before we add cholesterol into the mix: I’m overweight, my blood pressure is high even on meds, I’m tachycardic a lot, I’m sedentary, I have many health conditions, there’s a history in the family, I’m insulin resistant… Stroke and heart disease are seen by many as ‘old’ people diseases but anyone can have a stroke or heart attack if they’re high risk.
– I take steroids every day. They keep me alive but they’re bad for everything else
None of that sounds particularly cheerful. It’s because it’s not. My body is acting like a 70 year olds would. In other words, I have all of the ‘normal’ risks a 70 year old would have but I’m in my early 30s. Except I’ve hardly had a rock n roll lifestyle to justify having them at such a young age.
So what *is* positive? I’ve got a few ‘good’ things going for me
– I don’t smoke or drink alcohol
– I’m losing weight albeit slowly
– my diet is as close to perfect as you can possibly get. My endo said it was excellent, in fact
– I’m really disciplined so I take all my meds, do all my physio and stick to my diet
– my endo is allowed to prescribe me this new drug because he’s a leading researcher in it. The risks might be unknown, but as my husband said, ‘it’s better than potential immediate death though’. And I trust my endo.
– I know how to manage my other conditions really well which means I know I’m doing everything I can to minimise those putting me at risk (ie less things for my body to try to manage at once, which would increase stroke risk)
– I’m pretty practical as a person so while it’s totally depressing, not fair, shouldn’t be happening etc I also know that I can’t do anything about it and getting stressed/bitter about it will only make things a million times worse.
– knowledge is power in this case. Knowing we have to keep an eye on cholesterol is a good thing because it means we can (hopefully) do something about it
So fingers crossed we can get my cholesterol level down!