Thursday, July 30, 2015

I haven't died! (PLU)

Not yet, anyway. After my summer course ended, I've been reviewing various subjects from old textbooks I kept (I never resold a single book at college, figuring there could be some value in the information one day). Then, as my Fall textbooks have been arriving, I went to Staples and grabbed some non-spiral notebooks (so they'll lie flat and not have an irritating ridge in the middle), and I've been going through the early chapters, compiling and condensing the stuff I think I won't remember off the top of my head, and making neat, neat notes out of it.

My Organic Chemistry notebook was done the same way, and I was so thorough and explanatory with it that I've been using it to reteach me, to great success. Organic Chemistry 2, which I have not taken, is a required course for a Chemistry Minor, which I'm going to squeeze in to my course of study. See, because I already have a degree, I don't need to pursue the general education requirements which the program left slots open for, so I can pick other courses to take instead. And as it turns out, all that's required for a chemistry minor is to have a minimum number of courses taken at the university, and a certain number having to be upper-level (300-level and above) courses. And that number exactly matches the slots I have available in between my other classes. (The only question is whether Orgo transfers. I graduated with the class but not the lab (wasn't required), but this university has the lab and class together. It could thwart the minor objective; in that case I suppose I could just retake Orgo once again and get an unquestioned A....then I could pursue a biochemistry major part-time when I become duly employed. I kind of want to do it just to show myself that I can, and that my rocky road the first time around was because of non-academic reasons.

On the subject of not having died, I'm still a little bit skeptical of the accuracy of the blood pressure cuffs at the YMCA, but the values they're giving me are pretty consistent. The across-the-board medical consensus on what's healthy is a blood pressure of 120/80. Either number being less is a sign of above-average cardiovascular health, but higher pressure in either number indicates danger signs for heart issues. The lower number, the diastolic pressure, is the one to watch out for. It indicates the elasticity of your arteries--higher pressure, more trans and saturated fats in your cell membranes, ergo, stiffer arterial walls, meaning that the blood pressure can roughen them, exposing underlying collagen, to which platelets react, then dislodging and causing embolisms. Or not dislodging, and causing atherosclerosis.
[Here's an image] -- comparing the two pressures
The higher pressure indicates the strength of the heart--it is when the stethoscope first hears the pulse, which means that that is how much pressure your heart can generate with each contraction. It's essentially an estimate of the strength of your ventricles, which means that an abnormally high systolic pressure can indicate an enlarged heart muscle, for whatever reason. Conversely, the lower this pressure is, provided you're in visibly good health, the less effort your heart has to put in to do its job.

Yesterday morning, I woke up early enough to start a run at 5:20 a.m. I ran three miles at 7:20, 7:55, 9:35 pace, walked one, and then ran another at 8:35. Heart rate was 161 beats per minute after each segment (the 3-mile and 1-mile). That's a good baseline that I'll use to keep track of how well I'm progressing. The more you run, the better your body optimizes and the lower your resting heart rate, aerobic heart rate, systolic and diastolic arterial pressures will be.

So I was thrilled that the electronic cuff measured my pre-workout blood pressure at 110/57. When I get my physical exam later in the month, I'll find out how accurate those cuffs are.

And in the meantime, I'll keep running. Which requires me to go to bed really early. Days I sleep in are my rest days. My body and I have a two-way dialogue when it comes to exercise. :D

~ Rak Chazak

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