A stunning discovery…Everything has changed…

In Madeira, Portugal, five years ago today, we wrote: “Nothing like a view from the veranda at dusk.”  For more details from that post, please click here.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About Ireland 
The Royal Cork Yacht
Club, founded in 1720, is widely recognized as the world’s oldest yacht club.
The club plays host to Cork Week, Ireland’s largest and most prestigious
sailing event, held every two years and attracting boats and sailors from
around the world. There is still a very strong tradition of sailing in many of
our coastal towns, and you can either hire small sailing boats for your own use
or sign up to sailing courses in towns such as Schull and Baltimore.”

In an effort to avoid complaining and becoming known as a “whinger” or “whiner,”  I haven’t disclosed here quite how bad my recent situation has been.  My painful legs and arms made walking or performing the simplest of tasks unbearable.

Yes, I walked everyday recording steps on my fitness tracker but each step took everything I could muster.  Also, I wasn’t noticing any improvement after all the walking up the hill, up and down the stairs, and throughout the house.

I’d mentioned this to Tom but didn’t emphasize how severe the pain was.  I didn’t want him to worry any more than he’d worried already.  As of several days ago, I was imagining life in a wheelchair along with an end to our travels.  Desperately, I tried not to keep mentioning it.
A summer rose in Madeira.
The only relief I had was when sitting or lying down.  When I was cooking or hanging laundry I could barely stand in one place.  I was trying hard not to let this get me down but I was teetering on the edge.

Each time we’ve grocery shopped or took off sightseeing, I could barely get my legs to move.  My arms and shoulders ached.  I did arm and shoulder exercises to no avail. Getting dressed took everything I had.

Each day I contemplated what we were having for dinner and how long I’d have to stand in the kitchen to prep the items.  I let carrots spoil when I couldn’t imagine peeling them while standing at the counter.  I know I could have asked Tom for help but good grief, it’s been over five months and I’ve needed to be more independent.  How would this ever improve?

I wrote to the cardiologist and he assumed something was wrong with my heart and I needed to make an appointment with a cardiologist.  But, my heart is fine.  When I’ve walked up the hill in front of the house my legs burned beyond description.  My pulse was exactly where it should have been.  I wasn’t out of breath any more than Tom would have been.  He’s very healthy!
Lush greenery, blue skies, and the sea create a colorful scene in Madeira.
At a loss, I didn’t know what to do.  Subsequently, I started reading the medical literature, kindle books, and reputable information by world-famous and highly regarded cardiologists and physicians…not public opinion, not forums, and not heart-related blogs.

After weeks of research, I discovered what I’d expected, that as much as 30% of patients stopped taking their prescribed statins due to side effects.  In the US, over 28% of people over 40 years old are on statins.  How much money Big Pharma has made!

Prior to the discovery of my cardiac issues, I was a stench naysayer about statins, having read volumes about them.  I’d pull out my statin “soapbox” from time to time (when appropriate) and express my views.

But, when suddenly I was a cardiac patient after triple bypass surgery, the first drug they gave me was a statin, comparable to a drug called Crestor in the US but known as Zuvamor 40 mg in South Africa.  
Rooftops, power lines and terraced hills are a common sight.
When I questioned the doctors expressing my aversion to statins during my followup appointments, who are often funded by “Big Pharma” they insisted the drug would save my life.  Frightened, while not feeling well, I acquiesced and took the daily dose.

Every day that passed, the pain escalated and I came to the conclusion it was the statins, for the very reason I was vehemently opposed to this class of drugs.  Conducting more research I discovered it takes 77 hours or more for the drugs to leave one’s system.

On Tuesday night, I took the last pill deciding I was done with statins.  If, and I mean, if, I believed that they’d protect my health, I might be worried about stopping.  But, after considerable research, I feel at ease knowing I am doing the right thing.

Please keep in mind my decision to stop statins in no way is a suggestion you do the same, nor am I soliciting any medical advice. Each of us must become well educated as to what works for us with the support of medical professionals you trust.
Banana leaves along the road.

That’s the keyword…”trust.”  I noticed in the medical report I received from the surgeon (upon request) that he stated I’d had a heart attack.  I did not have a heart attack and asked him to amend the report accordingly.

This morning, less than 77 hours since I stopped the drug, I got out of bed, hopeful.  Alas, after moving around I noticed an 80% improvement in the pain in my arms and legs.  I’m anticipating that as more and more of the drug leaves my system, I’ll continue to feel more relief.

This morning we grocery shopped and for the first time shopping since the surgery on February 12th, never once did I think about pain in my arms and legs.  Once back at the house I easily put away the groceries while Tom helped as usual.  

Previously, I had to pull up a chair to the open refrigerator to put things away.  Today, I easily bent over the under-counter fridge to load the vegetables in the drawer.

With few homes having clothes dryers, railings on verandas become clotheslines.

Am I taking a risk?  With no conclusive evidence that taking statins prevents heart disease, I don’t think so.  But, if I am taking a huge risk, quality of life is most important to me.  Living in a wheelchair due to side effects from a drug is no quality of life for me, especially for our lifestyle.

You may say, try another statin.  I appreciate the concern.  But side effects are many regardless of the brand name and even lower doses.  I’m done.  Done and happy to be so.

My legs are weak but now instead of walking gingerly and favoring the pain, I can begin to walk with confidence and finally build some strength.  No, I’m not totally 100%.  That will take time, especially at my age.  But, I will continue on this path with optimism and hope for the future. 

Thank you for listening…

Be well.  Very well.
Photo from one year ago today, July 26, 2018:
This giraffe was having a “bad hair day!”  The hair on the female giraffe’s ossicones is usually short and straight up.  For more photos, please click here.