My Vices Have Me In A Vice…

We all have bad habits. Each and every one of us. If you claim NOT to have bad habits, being in denial is your bad habit. Truth. For myself, I’ve had several throughout the course of my life. I’ve been fortunate enough that my vices have never been extreme, severe or had lasting negative effects. Until recently…

For quite a long time, I used to enjoy a good cigar. This came about as a calming exercise when dealing with some of my PTSD-related issues. I came to enjoy it, and there’s nothing quite like lounging in the shade on a warm summer day, puffing away comfortably on a good cigar. Eventually, I came to find that it affected my overall lung capacity (even though you aren’t supposed to inhale a cigar) so I quit.

One of my other unfortunate vices, is the tendency to kick back with an “adult” beverage when I get home. In recent years, there’s been something liberating about knowing that once I’m home, I’m home and I’m not on call and there‘s no risk of my needing to leave the house. It became progressively easier to have supper, do dishes and then kick back and pour a glass. Over time, I moved from the occasional beer to the occasional spirits, since they tend to be carb-free.

It wasn’t until my recent visit to my endocrinologist that I discovered my potassium levels were quite high. I’ve written about this in a previous post but in summary, we discussed various food and drink items that may be causing the higher levels and I agreed to cut back on all of them. I was also prescribed a temporary “water pill” to help flush out the excess potassium.

It isn’t until I was doing some research for one of my posts (while enjoying a stiff Brandy, no less) that I landed upon a number of articles that addressed increased levels of potassium. Turns out that alcohol consumption can cause your muscle tissue to break down. This leads to the release of high amounts of potassium in to one’s bloodstream.

You might be thinking, “Isn’t potassium good for you?” The answer is yes, yes it is. But as with all other things in life, it all comes down to balance. Too much potassium in the bloodstream is know as “hyperkalemia” and can usually be treated, hence the water pills. But continued, increased levels of potassium can be very hard on the heart and can lead to a batch of other nasty effects.

To add shit to the pile, people with Diabetes are at higher risk for hyperkalemia. In keeping with the concept that we tend to cause our own suffering, it appears that my own vice, as carb-free and relaxing as it has been, is the root cause of my increased potassium levels. So, yet another vice that I’m cutting out. And that’s not a bad thing.

I can’t help but think I would have learned this sooner, had my doctor asked about my alcohol consumption. Although I don’t drink to excess, my occasional drinks every few nights a a week likely didn’t help my potassium levels. All one can do is live and learn. Does it mean I’ll never enjoy a nice drink on the weekends or after work? Of course not. I’ll simply be more mindful and be sure to keep the amounts nominal. Sometimes, the simplest solutions yield the best results. ☯️

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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