November 3rd, 2005


I hope falling down isn't getting to be a habit...

OK. I got myself tested (blood and urine), and got a brief physical (next year is the Big Five-O, which carries with it some, er, intrusive tests). Results: not bad for a fat guy. Only really bothersome thing is the low amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL). My LDL is very respectable. an effort to nudge those HDLs to bigger and better things, I was prescribed niacin.

You no doubt remember niacin, as I did, as being on a list of vitamins in something or other on a TV commercial... bread, I think. Turns out that niacin will indeed raise one's HDL levels.

It also turns out to have some side effects. Not up there with hypervitaminosis A, but not fun either.

I took my niacin before bedtime, as instructed, with a small snack (a granola bar). I went to bed.

I woke up about ten minutes to midnight, with my face and then my arms feeling like they were on fire, or as I would imagine they might feel had I taken a nice shower in lye or HCl.

"Oh," I thought to myself, "They did say that feeling flushed was one of the side effects, though this seems a bit extreme. I'll go to the bathroom and take a look at my face."

I did. I didn't see anything wrong with face... well, nothing that hadn't been wrong for some time. I turned and started back to bed, and, as my wife tells it, I wobbled a bit and then fell over. All on my own...if there's a Fudd coefficient for objects corresponding to Fudd's First Law of Opposition, my Fudd coefficient was zero, because I didn't need any pushing. I was no fun... I fell right over.

I didn't recall that fall. I do recall the second one, for which my wife was right behind me, and thus fell right over, too. I contemplated my situation for a few minutes as best I could; I was short of breath, sweating like the proverbial pig, and was seeing the first dim clouds before my eyes that presaged a major phosphene display back when I was a child and amused myself occasionally by pressing on my closed eyes.

I was able to stand and head into the living room and the chair before my computers. The nurse on the phone at Mercy suggested a call to 911, but my perspiring, short-breathed self was having none of it. I got on some clothes and shoes and we headed up the stairs and downtown to the Mercy ER. As time went on, I felt better. I went through the usual vital sign taking...with surprisingly low blood pressure (not surprising to my wife, who'd read up on niacin and its side effects while I was resting in the chair and deciding what I wanted to do). I was directed to a fancy gurney in a room, where I was tested to see whether I could do various things and whether various touches felt the same when done to both sides...which I presume was a test for stroke. (On the way there, I recited various tongue twisters and the definition of limit, for whatever that was worth.)

They stuck in an IV just in case, took some of my blood, took a CAT scan of my head, and let me wait for the results. Part way through I was told they'd probably want me to spend the night, so my wife headed home to get the BiPAP device and pajamas. I waited some more.

Finally I was told that I was OK, and that I shouldn't take another niacin pill. I got home around 4:00 a.m., emailed my coworkers (my lady wife, the wonderful irpooh, had emailed them while she was at home and we both thought I'd be in the hospital for a bit) saying I was released, but would be in late because I really needed some sleep, and crashed.

I can't get a refund for the rest of the niacin pills; they're considered contaminated, since I could have sneezed on them, or if I were a sleazoid, sprinkled them with something nasty. In the trash they go.

So...back to <John Houseman=ON> raising HDL levels the old-fashioned way... by earning it.<John Houseman=OFF>
  • Current Music
    "Free Falling," Tom Petty (as sung by Elmer Fudd)