My longtime doctor of 30 years respects the fact that I don’t like to go to the doctor and when I do, it’s usually kicking and screaming and very ill. My doctor takes good care of me and will summons me to make an appearance if he has not seen me for a while. He knows I’m still around because he prescribes most of the medication I take, so my file passes over his desk on occasion. He will usually snag me when I’m refilling something, and his nurse will call to let me know that he needs to see me. We make an appointment. The anxiety hits immediately. I will agonize and dwell on the date and time ahead and the anxiety and worry will not stop until I walk out of his office with the feeling that I dodged yet another bullet. I then realize that those days of fear were for nothing. If there is a phobia that has to do with seeing doctors, I have it and it is full blown.
I don’t want to get into my history with doctors. I would have to write a book for that because I have been in the care of doctors of all kinds since I was 6 months old. I am now 56, that would add up to 55 and a half years being twisted, poked, pulled, x-rayed and every other conceivable manner of handling humanly possible.
What is on my mind now is my most recent exam. I was asked to come in for a check and I complied, despite feelings of annoyance and a general “why won’t he leave me alone” attitude. We had a nice appointment. I had no real complaints, nor was I sick so it was more or less to go over my chronic issues which he prescribes for. He ordered a series of blood tests because it had been a while. A long while. This made me panic immediately. We said our goodbyes and he said that he would see me in six months. I left with the paperwork for the lab, getting more and more panicky. Thinking the absolute worst scenario possible based on the tests he ordered.
The next day I made an excuse for not going to the lab but the following day, after serious feelings of dread and doom, I took myself to the lab and had my blood drawn. I was scared and anxious and grateful for two really cool phlebotomists who made me feel at ease and in good hands. I did tell them firmly that I have terrible veins and that I do not like, no, I HATE being tapped on. Whenever someone trying to find a vein starts tapping and tapping, it makes me want to haul off and punch them. The two nice ladies promised that there would be no tapping.
The girl who was going to get the blood out of my arm was a student. She was careful and hesitant, yet didn’t tap, so I was good. The other woman was giving her instructions on which vein was actually viable and I kind of liked being helpful to someone learning. They agreed on a vein and I was told there was going to be a bruise but that was fine with me. They could have made my entire arm black and blue as long as they didn’t tap on me.
The vein produced just enough blood for the many labeled vials that had been set in wait for my donation. I was relieved to have it over with and left with a taped piece of gauze on my arm. This is when the real panic set in. I called my doctor to let him know that I had gotten my blood work done and that I would be waiting (and waiting) for the results.
Over the course of the next 10 days, I had grown certain that my liver, kidneys and thyroid were all failing and that I would get dire news that I would need all of these organs transplanted. I was certain, since I had put off having blood work done for over 3 years that all Hell had broken loose and I was a goner. These feelings must have something do to with whatever phobia I have because they are ridiculous.
Result day came and my doctor’s nurse called. She told me that my triglycerides were high and my lithium levels were low. My lithium levels are always low, so I didn’t care about that. We spoke about my cholesterol and she gave me a number, 375. That number should be around 110. Panic. I asked her flat out if this was going to kill me right away. And she said no but I do need to diet and exercise to get this number down. I asked her one more time if I was going to die and then I asked how my kidney, liver and thyroid results were and she said those were okay. Exhale. The nurse went on to tell me to try some fish oil and have a nice day and that was that.
I sat for a few minutes after the phone call, trying to take it all in. I didn’t even know that my doctor was going to check my cholesterol, so the fact that it was an issue simply bowed me over. I was going to run out to get a few gallons of fish oil but I took some time to Google it and saw that it might affect the bi-polar illness that I have. I called the nurse back to let her know that I couldn’t take fish oil and she apologized as she didn’t know there was a connection to fish oil and bi-polar illness. Great.
So here I am with this number, 375 and no idea what to do to get it lower. The nurse told me I would have to cut out my beloved carbs and my beloved Little Debbie snack cakes. That was a start but honestly, I wouldn’t know a healthy diet if it had teeth and bit my leg off. So, if you see me out in the world of social media, drinking my Skinny Green Smoothies and talking about my triglycerides, please know that I’m trying really hard to get better and healthier. It feels like having to become a rocket scientist overnight and I’m entering this new world of healthy eating and drinking completely clueless, yet also completely willing to make a change that will hopefully keep my heart pumping for years to come.
Bye bye 375, it is day 5 and I am not feeling so clueless anymore.
I want to extend a thank you to Shadow Teams, Beth Wareham and her new book Skinny Green Smoothies. The book came out the same day I received my test results and it has given me a better understanding of how food can be healthy. What a gift. A gift of health and hope.