Health update

I’ve written recently about frustrating but predictable experiences with doctors that take a conventional approach to treating patients. Rather than complain some more, I wanted to demonstrate a couple examples of what it looks like to take responsibility for your own health, and how it feels to work with doctors who think about treating root causes, instead of just prescribing a pill.

I have been reading about men’s health and ferritin levels. Iron overload is a major health problem, which is why periodic blood donation is vital for men and why women, who shed blood monthly for 40 years, live longer than men. Ferritin levels are not part of a standard blood panel for whatever reason, but the problem is real.

I’ve been ineligible to donate blood for a couple decades because I took a daily dose of finasteride to prevent my hair from falling out. However, the time had come for me to give up on finasteride. I went to my hair doctor and told him I needed a topical ointment to replace my pill. I also called the Red Cross and talked to their doctor to make sure that topical hair treatment was permitted (the answer: finasteride in any form, no; topical minoxidil, yes). Since making the switch, I have experienced some minor thinning of my hair, but it’s probably noticeable only to me.

After waiting a month to let the finasteride clear my body, I scheduled my blood donation. At the site, one of the assistants told me I had great veins, and flattered me into doing the Power Red—a double donation of red blood cells. While I became a blood donor entirely for personal reasons, the assistant told me that red blood cells are desperately needed by cancer patients. I hope mine go to a good home.

Following the donation, I had a huge surge of energy, even trouble sleeping, but my high intensity workout the next morning was my worst in memory. I pushed on the gas but nothing happened. This outcome makes sense since red blood cells transport oxygen from your lungs to your muscles, and muscles produce energy with the oxygen. I suppose blood donation is like a backdoor simulation of high-altitude training. In any event, I consider high iron more of a health threat than a few 8 out of 10 workouts, so I’ll keep going with the donations.

The other health issue I’ve set out to fix was a tendinopathy located where my triceps connect with my elbow. I’ve done the recommended isometric and eccentric movements for that joint, but tendons are a stubborn thing. I’ve been looking for an excuse to try the peptide BPC-157, and see first-hand if its healing powers are true. I called my functional medicine doctor and asked for a shipment.

Here’s the amazing thing: my doctor recommended first that I get screened for heavy metal toxicity, since heavy metals can impair tissue healing. It’s a simple urine test, but the results could be profound. I’ve been to orthopedic surgeons for other tendon injuries, and they focus specifically on the problematic joint—either recommending rest or rest plus rehab. Never before have I had a doctor view a tendon injury and healing as part of a larger system.

I’ll keep you posted on whether BPC-157 is the fountain of youth that it’s claimed to be. I’ll also spend some time thinking about why pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies don’t want any part of it. And believe me, it’s not because drug companies shy away from things that are “experimental.”

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