Vascular follow up
Well, I'm now officially F.O.K.I. - Fit Outside Knackered Inside.
Though I look a lot better from the outside, I do have arterial disease.
I had quite a long consultation with the surgeon (20 mins +) and he explained things and answered my questions - for which I was grateful.
(N.H.S. not private)
I've got an arterial blockage at the junction of the Aorta and iliac arteries (located roughly behind the belly button, behind the pelvis).
That's a blockage rather than a narrowing.
The location is not really suitable for angioplasty or stent so the only option is bypass surgery, which he says is major surgery.
(Although he did say that he does consider less drastic action in people who are perhaps not suitable for surgery. He did say he would discuss this further with his 'team'.)
So, what are my symptoms:
I get discomfort (intermittent claudication) with exercise, particularly walking up uphill.
Also when doing other physical activities for a continued period, even sweeping floors for example.
My feet / lower legs get chilly
I get cramps, particularly in the calves – and particularly when lying down of sitting flat in a lazy-boy chair.
I have had these symptoms, more or less, for a number of years, certainly 4 or 5.
I seem to recall noticing discomfort while cycling back in 2011. I put that down to back problems - seems that wasn't the case.
What we're going to do about it:
I can walk about a mile steadily on the flat - and any discomfort disappears within a couple of minutes of stopping
I can work pretty much all day (but with breaks if things get too uncomfortable), including carrying quite heavy stuff about.
I have no discomfort when inactive (sitting / standing), except while lying / sitting flat – for some reason.
The surgeon suggests we don't do anything drastic now - 'see how it goes' and he'll reassess in 3 / 4 months.
He does say there is a blockage as opposed to a narrowing and (as far as I know) it won't clear itself.
Blood, it appears, has found alternative routes to my legs.
He did say that I am young and generally fit! Which was nice. If my wife hadn't been there I might have asked him out for a drink!
He could tell I was trying to help myself by losing weight, exercising and eating well.
He pointed the following things out:
I need to keep as active as possible and look after my diet, not smoke and only drink moderately (or less!).
I must keep my blood sugars under good control – but because of my diabetes I'm doing pretty well there. Low carb, high fat diet are helping in this regard.
Be as active as possible – dog walks, and generally with the work I'm doing. (We'll be starting on another project soon so that'll keep me going!)
Not smoke. I gave up 3+ years ago (though smoking may well have been the cause of the problems - in addition to the diabetes).
I DO drink moderately – it could be less sure, but I'm certainly not classed as a heavy drinker – these days!
(I have taken the off-licence off speed dial - much to the disgust of the proprietor who was topping up his pension nicely.)
I do still wonder whether a proportion of my symptoms are from nerve issues stemming either from my back (I've told doctors about this at least 6 times) or from neuropathy, a side-effect of diabetes. (Foot discomfort sometimes, numb thigh when sitting too long.)
BUT - I am not in denial – I do have arterial problems.
I'm on a daily Aspirin but the surgeon wants me to go on a statin – something I've been loathed to do to this point.
It is NOT for the lowering of cholesterol because through my research I don't think that lower levels of cholesterol make any real difference to our health (except when it's very high). In fact, the opposite appears to be the case.
(There is plenty on Statins / cholesterol on previous pages.)
It's different in my specific case though.
The surgeon says that statins stabilize plaques. So this IS a valid reason to take them.
A statin will be prescribed through my GP so I have booked an appointment with him to discuss all this.
Overall, not great, but it could have been worse.
He could have said, 'right see you Monday and I'll start hacking you about.'
He might still say this at some point but I need to try and do what I can to postpone that day.
Both my T2 Diabetes and P.A.D. (Peripheral Arterial Desease) could well have been prevented.
My fault - so I just have to get on with it.
Does it need to happen to you? Probably not.
I said this at the start, but please send this link on to folk you care about