Friday, September 12, 2008

Triglycerides and Uwem Akpan

I just read a study about how triglycerides stay in the body 15 times longer when a person is stressed. I've always been a bit concerned about my higher than average triglyceride levels. My cholesterol levels are fantastic, with the overall number decreasing for the past two years, with my LDL going down and my HDL going up quite a bit - but those pesky triglycerides stayed up there. Mind you they're not abnormal, and my doc was pretty much like "well if you don't have diabetes, your other counts are stupendous and you don't consume a lot of carbs or alcohol, I really wouldn't stress too much. Just stick with a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise." I wonder if two years worth of stress could've kicked them up a bit?? Hmmm. I notice since graduating while I am very depressed about my lack of job prospects and feeling a bit lonely without Jamaal close by and with him in school, that overall my stress level is much reduced. I actually have a little less gray hair (though I'm not sure stress and grays are linked scientifically) and tend to not overdo it as much, try to pack everything into a short period of time to the point of having to pull an all nighter only to end up exhausted and very very sick (happened twice in the past year). Now I am determined to destress a bit more, get organized, get exercising and stick to that healthy diet. It's for my health!

Anyways, I never thought I'd actually finish this alphabet theme - ha NaBloPoMo from April too! Think I can wrap it up before 6 months hits? Anyways the letter "U" was a bit of a sticking point. I was uninspired....until I read Uwem Akpan's book. I have read a rash of disturbing books about Africa these days, though all of them have been non-fiction. I think this collection of fictional short stories may be the most horrifying. They are so raw and gritty and real that as I read I wondered what kind of awful things this author had seen that made him able to write such heart-rending stories. I googled him (of course) and discovered this interview, which actually made me feel better about the book. In the course of reading it I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness, but when I read that Akpan wrote it to bring the troubles of Africa into the light, I was glad that was his motive. It's a hard read, but worth it....I got a feeling reading "An Ex-Mas Feast" that's what life is like for Kenyan street kids after seeing them in Nairobi and Machakos, pick-pocketing and sniffing glue, seeing the slums of Mathare and Kibera but the story drove it all home for me, helped me "get it" even more (and made me want to help even more). I was not as much educated on the other issues covered in the book (except for the ubiquitous issue of orphaned by HIV/AIDS...well ok and the Rwandan genocide) but reading something written from the African perspective was extremely rewarding. Be prepared going in if you're going to read it though; at times it is horrifyingly bleak.

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