April, 2012: 22 posts.
I mean that. This week I went to the doctor. Why? To get a sense of where the heck I stand. I’m 42 years old, 360 pounds, and often don’t feel so hot. So, what does a Medical Doctor have to say about where I stand.
I told him my colds last month had freaked me out. Side note: I’ve gotten a ton of advice on avoiding colds. Some of the advices include: kimchi, room-temperature Sunny Delight, matzoh ball soup, fluids, bedrest, Emergen-C, hot tea, juicing. As Slim Pickens says in Dr. Strangelove: “A fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.”
Turns out, on physical exam I’m 360 pounds and 42 years old, and not much else against me. My lovely wife pointed out I didn’t ask him about sleep apnea — and honestly I didn’t think about it. I know for a fucking fact (sorry relatives, I need to swear. My Mother is dead, my grandmother is dead, and I can say fucking on my blog now without starring it out) that I don’t want to wear a CPAP or BiPAP device every night of my life. As a Respiratory Therapist I know they do good, but the quality of life attendant to such a machine I don’t find them compelling. I will admit to the fact that my opinion on that may change in the future. But I don’t have the mysterious swelling I got in my lower extremities maybe 6 years ago. I don’t have the terrible back pain I got about 3 years ago. In some ways I’m in improved overall shape. I’m pretty strong (I have to be, I’m carrying around 160 pounds extra, all the time). I still like to swim, when I do it. I don’t find myself out of breath if I pace myself walking (for example, running for a bus or a train or whatever). Now, I couldn’t do a push or pull-up to save my life (hah!) but that’s not everything.
The truth is I believe I gained a ton of weight after my Mom died. That’s on me. My Mom took all kinds of ownership over me being a heavy kid. Truth is, the only time I’ve NOT been a heavy kid was when we lived in the Philippines. That was mostly because we had no money at the time. Ate a lot of rice and beans and that’s pretty much it. It’s in my genes – the maternal side of the family (hi again Mom) has more obesity than the paternal – but that’s backstory. Ultimately my habits and diet are the key.
I actually have felt better and weighed less in the past. When I worked nights as a Respiratory Therapist, running to cardiac arrests, doing treatments, chest percussion, lugging equipment, I was in better shape. Now I’m a computer programmer and sit all the time. I’m sitting as I write this.
So the doctor, I told him I’m working on it (and truth be told, I believe I’m down 10 pounds in the past month or two) and he said, “well, let’s set up an appointment two months from now and see where we stand.” So I did it. He also ordered blood work for me. Always fun to get blood drawn. He ordered the standard labs, and thyroid levels, and cholesterol levels.
The blood work was unremarkable, mostly. The little pink zones (they’re not colored pink, but in my mind’s eye bad labs have a pink background to them, remember I used to look at people’s laboratory results as part of my job) are two:
First, I don’t have enough good cholesterol (HDL Cholesterol 35 mg/dL, should be greater than or equal to 40 mg/dL). My bad cholesterol level is actually okay (107 mg/dL), not great, but not bad, like my Mom, or like folks they worry about for heart disease. The Mayo Clinic website says this level is “near ideal.” Still these numbers could improve.
Now, the brighter pink factor is my fasting glucose – 104 mg/dL. That’s high. Maybe not diabetic high, but high enough to have a name. Not that I’m hung up on names. I mean, they give a name to “restless leg syndrome” but just having a syndrome name doesn’t mean something’s a life sentence or is the end of the world. It’s just a name. But the American Diabetes Association calls that 104 by a name. Here’s the synopsis: having a fasting plasma glucose level greater than 100 but less than 126 mg/dL indicates impaired fasting glucose, or IFG — this is considered prediabetes. It’s not diabetes, but I’m at high risk for developing diabetes in the near future. If I were 45 or older, the ADA says I should be getting checked for diabetes with every check up. I don’t want diabetes, it’s terrible disease. Took care of plenty of patients with diabetes. It’s a bummer.
So that’s the watchword. This is not so much for you, the home viewer, as it is for me, the Joe. I’m looking closely at lifestyle (read: habits, activity, diet, exercise, quality of life).
So that’s all the news this morning. In another post perhaps I’ll speculate on the ages of my grandparents and my Mom at their death and what that might mean for me. Maybe I’ll go for a swim.