This past weekend I finally went to the hospital to get a routine blood test done. I'd been meaning to check my cholesterol and thyroid for a long time but getting the timing right (between fasting for the right amount of time and Nathan being home to help with the kids), it just kept getting pushed to the side. It didn't feel urgent because I'm pretty healthy and although I have a hard time controlling myself with sweets, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about eating a healthy diet. [Side note: How hilarious is it that I just had such a hard time spelling "knowledgeable" that I had to use the closest spelling I could manage for a Google search and since I couldn't hang onto the spelling in my head long enough to type it here, had to cut and paste it from the top of the results page, where it says "Did you mean knowledgeable"?...reminds me of the time my brother Ben came with me to pick up my college diploma (the one I finally earned a full year after my original classmates)...and had to correct me as I loudly and proudly read it aloud, mispronouncing a key word (for the life of me, I can't remember what word though. Maybe Ben remembers)]
I don't know about you, but my brain does not comprehend medical lingo and I also have a terrible time remembering my personal and family medical history. After I had Owen, the nurses and midwives asked me if I'd had certain shots after I'd had Zoe and all I could say was "I have no idea...will it hurt me to get it again if I did?" To which the answer was "no" so I just went ahead and got whatever shots they were offering just in case. I think they all thought I was crazy because I got so many shots in the days after Owen's birth and probably only needed one or two (or none--who knows??). Anyway, imagine my surprise and total confusion when the midwives called me the day after my blood was drawn to talk about the results. This is what my brain was able to comprehend from that conversation: "High thyroid and triglyceride numbers...need to see an endocrinologist...will probably have to go on medication....also should see a general practitioner....no, don't wait until after your trip east in a couple of weeks, try and see someone right away." This is basically my side of the conversation: "What does the thyroid do exactly? What is an endocrinologist and what do they do? How do you spell triglyceride? WHAT is triglyceride??" Luckily my friend Jessica was over with her girls for dinner so I had another person there to help me hazily fumble through dinner and bathtime. I called my Mom (of course) and then the midwives again to clarify a bit after I was able to think about everything a little. In a nutshell, this was my side of both conversations: "Should I be freaking out?? I don't have the faintest idea what all of this means!" and both amazing ladies assured me that there was no reason to freak out, but plenty of reasons to become more informed and look into the situation. After bedtime, I emailed Nathan to update him and he completed the process of setting my mind at ease so I was able to get some sleep without letting my imagination go crazy.
The next day, I called my sister-in-law Sandy (an ER doctor) and told her what was going on. She talked me through everything in detail and I got another step closer to feeling relaxed about it. After I got the actual lab results from the midwives, I called Sandy again and she walked me through the numbers and what they mean and was able to assure me that although my numbers are high, they aren't high enough to be able to clearly state that I have an issue at all. I was able to find a general practitioner here that could see me this morning and she, just like Sandy, told me that the number isn't high enough to definitively say that I have an issue. She said that if I wanted to, I could start treatment right now, but that then I'd be committed to being on medication for the rest of my life. When I told her I wasn't interested in going on medication unless it was a safety issue, she told me that it definitely is not a safety issue and that I can take another test in a month and see if my number goes down or not. If it doesn't, then we can start thinking about investigating whether or not I have an issue.
PHEW!!! You can really learn a lot in a couple of days if you get the shit scared out of you! Listen up: Get your blood work done when a medical professional suggests you do so, even if you think you're totally healthy.
As far as the triglyceride number goes, it's also not at a "freak out" level. The rest of the stuff they look at for cholesterol looks fine and although my number is high, it's not scary high. It's high enough that the doctor suggested I take fish oil pills every day and start to be more aware of what I'm eating...carbs, sugar, alcohol...she said that if I can't get the number down that way, then we can start to be more strict about it all but for now I can stay fairly relaxed about it. It seems pretty simple on the surface, but the more I think about it I think that simple goal might be hard for me. It's easy to take the fish oil, but I think I make pretty good choices already as far as food goes so I don't feel like I have a lot of fat to trim there. The unfortunate truth though, is that I rely heavily on (and thoroughly enjoy) pasta and bread products for dinners, I JUST made the decision to allow myself to enjoy a bowl of ice cream every night after I put the kids to bed (guilt free) and I really really enjoy having a glass of wine every night. Realizing the three vices I've allowed myself are the three most important things to cut back on when working to improve heart health is one of the biggest downers ever. It makes me feel old. I know I can do it and will feel better once I get into different habits but first I have to figure out HOW to do it......guess I'll have to get my butt to the bookstore and find the "diet" section. Sheesh! Life is so weird sometimes!