Wednesday, March 9, 2011

TFTLM: Got Them Soul Coughing Video Game Addict Blues (Part 5)

True to my word, I radically changed my diet. Out were all dairy, red meat, pork and a great deal of the salt I'd been eating. In were fiber-rich fruits, veggies, grains, plus Egg Beaters, turkey sausage, chicken and fish for protein. My theory was that the the weight, cholesterol and blood pressure would drop in dramatic levels with those fatty and caloric restrictions. And the weight did drop. Kind of. A little bit. Not exactly dramatically, but gradually, to the tune of about a pound a week. It still galled me that I'm not even 40 and am already having to take old man pills, but if it would keep me out of the cardiac ward I figured it was worth it.

Unfortunately, the blood pressure didn't seem to give a wet crap what I did or didn't eat. After three weeks on the new regime, I asked the wife to test my BP and it was still through the roof. We called it in to Dr. Ralph, who then put me on Lisinopril, an ace inhibitor and the eventual source of my hacking cough.

I stuck to this diet for three months, with only one or two breaks for a cheeseburger or pizza the whole time. I was proud, though not precisely enjoying myself, but it was still a doable thing. My next checkup was in November. To my and Dr. Ralph's delight, my blood pressure and cholesterol had not only returned to normal levels, but had dropped to enviable levels. He was astounded that I'd been able to make such great strides. Not astounded enough that he wanted to immediately drop all meds, but astounded. I agreed to stay on my meds for another three months and immediately went and ate a massive bacon, egg, cheese and potato biscuit for lunch to celebrate my good fortune.

Jump ahead to December, during my coughing fits and the wife pronouncement of
"Ohhhh! You have an ace cough." Such fits, she explained, were one of the possible side effects of Lysinopril in a small percentage of its users. The onset of my ace cough had just been unfortunately timed with a cold so its cause was masked. She advised me to drop that med and see if the cough went away. After all, my blood pressure had been great at my last visit so I should be fine. What I didn't realize was that it takes a couple of weeks for the ace cough symptoms to go away, so dropping Lysinopril was not an immediate fix. I continued to hack and wheeze well into the new year and had only ceased the fits for a handful of weeks before my next appointment with Dr. Ralph.

It was around this time, in January, that our video game situation took a major turn as well. Since Thanksgiving, I'd been looking into gaming systems and was still pretty well convinced the PS3 was the way I wanted to go. But I also hate paying retail for anything. I kept waiting for some kind of massive PS3 sale online, but none seemed forthcoming. (This was before I learned how much crackdown Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have on retailers who discount their systems.) And to paraphrase a line from my all time favorite film, Raising Arizona, soon I even found myself driving by Gamestops that weren't on the way home. At the wife's suggestion, one day, I even went into one and had a look around--just browsing, mind. If it had been up to me, we would probably have just browsed and left, but the wife knows me better than I admit to knowing myself, and after having a look at some of the games there and talking to the manager, she said, "Oh, just get one, already!"

As I said, the Play Station 3 is the first game console I've owned since the Atari 2600. As great as my expectations for the machine were, the PS3 surpassed them by a good distance. It's one thing to know that the PS3 is capable of syncing up to your wireless network and streaming Netflix, but my experience with home theater appliances being able to do that has been limited to our LG Bluray player, which can't hold a wireless connection for any useful amount of time and causes one to spend most of one's viewing time constantly doing pushbutton wireless connection for it. (In fact, we went without Netflix streaming for around 6 months because the LG refused to behave and I'd been unable to convince it otherwise after an entire afternoon spent trying to do so.) I expected that sort of hassle from the PS3 but I did not get it. It took one login to the network and that sucker has run smooth ever since. And the Netflix streaming software it runs is leagues better than LG's, not to mention it's a Bluray player to start with. In fact, if our LG Bluray player ever sees power again, it'll be because it's hooked to a different TV altogether--possibly in someone else's house.

And, of course, there's the gaming aspect of it. Of course, I loaded up with the Half-Life Orange Box, so I can play through the last few Half Life episodes. But it also came with Portal, which I like almost more than Half Life. The wife picked up Oblivion, too, but has spent more time playing Infamous--a more modern day RPG style game. However, the game that has charmed us more than any other thus far has been Little Big Planet. I adore any game where I can customize things to suit my wishes and LBP has that going for it by the bucketful. We've not done a lot of game buying and most of it has been from the used game section of Gamestop, but we really like the system. And the cool thing about being so behind in the gaming world is that there are SO many now classic games for us to catch up on.

Meanwhile, I had my third visit with Dr. Ralph a couple weeks back. My blood pressure was still good, but my occasional dalliances with bacon and cheese since my last visit have lingered in my system, for my cholesterol had risen above recommended levels again. It's still not at the boo scary level it had been, but it was enough that Dr. Ralph upped my intake of Crestor to 10 mg a day. Which, I guess, means for the time being I'm still a slave to big pharm. And big turkey.

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