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Articles tagged with: aging


Doing the math

Tuesday, 27 October 2015 Categories // Aging, Gay Men, Health, Treatment, Living with HIV, Opinion Pieces, Population Specific

Guelph, Ontario's Wayne Bristow says, “with the years adding up and subtracting the negatives from my life, I’m liking how my life is becoming balanced”. His secret? Keep doing the math and an eye on his health.

Doing the math

I quit school and left home during the first week of March 1970. It couldn’t have come soon enough. I had just turned sixteen. I was in grade ten, failing in all subjects and math was the worst. I don’t recall much being said to me about my grades, but being tossed out of school for smoking in the wrong place had become the ultimate crime. It meant that I would face a beating from my stepfather when his ship came in. (He worked in the Great Lakes shipping business).

After receiving my verdict and sentence, my mother went back to talking on the phone and watching her afternoon soap. I went to the bedroom packed some of my things, left and never looked back. I would be learning about life as a student in the school of hard knocks but I had good friends that looked out for me; I would be alright.

I’m so proud, I’ve gone 40 plus years without needing algebra.

I never learned any of the new math or even metric. It was being introduced the year I quit school. I still get by using old fashioned arithmetic: add, subtract, divide and multiply. I will guess-ti-mate the size of things, if a bag of sugar looks like the old five pound one then that’s what it is.

Today the only math that concerns me relates to my HIV numbers.

As of my last test in August, my CD4 count is 540, which is good for me; I’m at 32% and undetectable. I’ve been taking Stribild for nearly a year now and it is working for me. The only side effects I’m seeing is trouble sleeping, and there are the washroom issues, but only when I have to go somewhere.

At the time the bloodwork was ordered, my doctor felt I needed to have my liver checked so she sent me for an ultrasound. In the results they found I have a gallstone tucked away in my bladder. It isn’t/hasn’t been a bother to me yet so there is no need to remove it. The ultrasound also showed that I have a ‘fatty’ liver, apparently my weight gain has contributed to it. She explained that my body only has so many places to retain fat and when they are full, the fat ends up in the liver. Having the fatty liver can add to my cholesterol problems that I have. I need to eat better and get more exercise.

If I ever wake up in the morning and nothing hurts, I would have to think I’m dead.

Exercise. This sounds like I should be able to just go out and do it but to me that's unrealistic. I think gyms and exercise are for people who are fit to stay fit. I can try to exercise but the more I do it, my body doesn’t get it and it screams to me, “are you kidding”?

I have two very messed up shoulders so weight lifting or strenuous exercise is out of the question. Arthritis in my knees, neuropathy in my feet, a few too many pounds around the waist and add my age in the mix, I’m limited to what I can accomplish. I’m worn out by the end of the week. I will make an effort and I have been thinking of trying to eat healthier. We’ll see about it.

Also in my last doctor’s appointment we talked about the arthritis I’m experiencing. She ordered an MRI on my left knee, where I was having the most pain. The results showed that I had a cyst in the back of the knee that had burst leaving a small amount of fluid in there. It isn’t a lot of fluid so there is no need to worry about it right now. Both of these conditions are common with oncoming arthritis.

So, what’s next?

Two weeks prior to this appointment I had dropped off some paperwork to have the doctor sign so that I could try medical marijuana. I decided to apply for it to help with arthritis pain and to help me sleep for longer periods of time. We went over all the information, page by page, and she has signed them so now I have to go through the process of deciding what method I will use to take it and find a source to purchase it from. (I will update another time)

Next on the list, she found that my cholesterol levels were off, not by much but we will be keeping an eye on them. She lowered my medication for it a few months ago because I was having joint and muscle aches and pain. I think if I do make the effort to eat better, I can control the levels better and hopefully we won’t have to try other medications or go back to a higher doseage. I have been eliminating the number of medications, I don’t want to take more. I’m down to just three prescribed meds and a few supplements.

Finally, I asked for my annual flu shot. She said that she was asking the nurse to check each of us to make sure we were up to date on our shots. Lucky me, I needed three other shots. This day I would get the flu shot in one arm and a tetanus shot in the other and the other two could wait for another day. 

I am satisfied with all results, I feel good. I’m happy with life and still challenge myself taking on more projects and learning new skills. I acquired these results by avoiding the dramas of life and not getting stressed out. Stress has never been good for me. I have plenty to keep me busy, good people around me and a keen awareness to practice  self-care.

I must come first always. Resiliency has always been a strength of mine as well. I always bounce back.

My life hasn’t been perfect and it may never be. There are times when I’ve had to take a closer look at the people in my life, take stock of who are friends and who are just acquaintances. Do they play a positive or a negative role in my life? Then I do the math. I add the positives, subtract the negatives and bring balance to my life.

One drawback of the appointment was my doctor asking if a student could sit in. I have always allowed it as we need more young educated doctors. At one point, my doctor asked him to guess my age. At first he said it would be hard to do but he gave it a go and said, “late 60s early 70s”. Uuggh! I would flunk him for that. She keeps telling me I don’t look my age but she was at a loss for words this time.

There comes a time when you can’t fake it any longer, I think I’m there.