Yes, I am on the statins in order to reduce my cholesterol. Another of life's milestones, I suppose. Apart from poor eyesight from about the age of 16 I have, touch wood, enjoyed a life of good health but about seven years or so again my optician advised me to go and check my cholesterol out.
Yes, apparently they can tell from a milky presence in the area around the retina whether your cholesterol is dangerously high. My optician said it was only a correct diagnosis in about 70% of cases - some people just have milky eyeballs I guess - but a 70% success rate certainly made it worth my while checking it out.
If memory serves, my cholesterol was 6.1. The recommendation for a safeish level is 5.0. Not wanting to be a drain on the NHS, I elected to try and get the cholesterol down via diet and succeeded in getting it down to 5.8 in the space of three months.
Well, life moved on and, of course, I slipped back into old habits. The installation of a confectionery machine at work certainly did not help, but basically when it came to diet I reverted to being worthless and weak.
Fast forward to late 2009 and a new blood test which revealed my cholesterol was up to 6.7. Once again I opted for getting it down through diet, even though it was just two weeks before Christmas.
Even though I say so myself I did pretty well. I cut out the chocolate, consumed a lot of soup, learnt to love vegetable chili and, of course, Mrs. Fiendish helped a lot by stumping up for some costly Tefal frying device that sprays oil on what is being cooked rather than bathing it in the stuff.
As a result I lost 7 pounds over Christmas and a further 3 pounds by the end of January, and got my cholesterol back down to 6.1.
I was feeling pretty good about that result but for whatever reason the doc thought I had probably gone about as far as I could with diet, as I still had a high proportion of bad cholesterol to good cholesterol. So, I've gone on the statins, and have to take one every night, presumably for the rest of my life.
Apart from some mild pain in my legs in the early days of taking the tablets I have experienced no side effect and people tell me I look good with a third ear growing out of my forehead ...
I'm going for another blood test tomorrow and then I'll go back to the doc in the middle of the month to see what effect the pills are having.
I know one effect they are having and that is on my eating habits. I am still consuming a lot of soup and staying clear of the chocolate, but now when I go out for a meal with friends I allow myself to eat 'normally'; I don't want to go to PizzaExpress and have a salad, I want to eat a bloody pizza. Well, not a bloody pizza though I suppose such a thing is the logical extension for those who like a 'meat feast'.
Last night while a little bit tipsy I allowed myself the luxury of a McDonald's cheeseburger on the way home, while last Wednesday at a leaving do I gorged on curly chips, burgers and a few tortilla chips. It's the slippery slope, I tell you, and in a way it would probably be good for me if the statins have not quite got me below the magic 5.0 level.
Oh, by the way, the doctor said that by reducing my cholesterol level from 6.7 to 6.1 I had lowered the chances of having a heart attack or stroke from 15% to 14%. I nearly had a heart attack there and then!
According to the Daily Mail, an evil paper to be sure but one that knows its constituency of ageing middle class reactionary white folks pretty well, "about four million Britons are taking statins. GPs are recommended to prescribe the drugs to anyone with a 20per cent risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next ten years," so I guess with only a 14% probability I should have ducked them a bit longer, except that my mother died of a (second) stroke and my father had to have a heart bypass operation, so I am considered high risk.
Not everyone in the medical community is convinced statins are a silver bullet. "It's common to find patients on the drugs who report trouble finding the right word or forgetting what task they are supposed to be doing," according to Professor Beatrice Golomb of the University of California San Diego.
Great Not only is there a history of heart disease in the family but dementia as well. A real win double, then!
In a recent paper, Professor Golomb also described patients who were irritable, hostile and had short tempers while taking statins.
I get the same way when I read the Daily Mail.
The NHS apparently spends nearly a billion quid a year on prescriptions for statins. A month's worth costs me £7.20 - that's about $11 for you US readers still in a furious rage at this goddamned Commie idea of healthcare available for all (it would be free were I a poor person) - and I am pretty sure that £7.20 does not cover the cost to the NHS of the pills.
So, thank you, people. Thank you once again for your help in staving off a heart attack or a stroke.
Now to see whether those chocolate eclairs are still in the fridge (I think Mrs. Fiendish is getting pissed off at me bragging about my weight loss).