Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's up, Doc?

I went to see the doctor this week, largely based on the results of a health screening that my employer paid for back at the end of October. It said my cholesterol levels were high, which wasn't exactly a surprise.

When I lived in Providence, I found this out and went on medication, which I took for perhaps two years. When I moved to Pennsylvania and my prescription ran out, a combination of laziness and wishful thinking took me off the medication. It turned out to be a hassle to find a new doctor, so I didn't do it. I've been off medication for two years, I've exercised with regularity off and on, added more vegetables to my diet, and hoped for the best.

No such luck, it turns out.

So, I went to see the doctor. It wasn't quite as tedious to get a new doctor this time, since our pediatrician is also a general practitioner. He wasn't taking new patients, but since I had a family member seeing him (our baby), they fit me in. Our pediatrician--now my primary care provider--seems like a really nice guy, which is why we sometimes feel bad about lying to him all the time. You see, it's just that our infant care philosophy (attachment parenting) doesn't really fit with what he thinks we should be doing. We have the feeling that he would be appalled at how long we waited for solid foods, the fact that our daughter still sleeps in our bed with us (or even in our room with us!), but oh well. Like I said, he's a nice guy, and we don't know of a pediatrician in our area who would be more in line with what we're doing.

With that in mind, let me say that I really felt good about my appointment with him. I basically went in to reluctantly renew my relationship with cholesterol-lowering medication. I showed him the results of my blood work, we talked about my lifestyle choices. For instance, the way I work out five days a week (at least, when I work out--after Thea was born I didn't see the gym for over 5 months, then I worked out consistently for 2, and then had almost 4 more months off before I got back into a routine again (which, admittedly, lost a few weeks to the holiday break). And I've been working to eat more vegetables and less meat--I also told him about my New Year's Resolution to only eat meat that I feel good about.

As we went through this, he admitted that it if I wanted a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medication, it would be hard to argue against it, because my cholesterol levels are high. However, out of the top five risks for heart problems, I only have that one--I don't smoke, I'm not diabetic, I don't have high blood pressure, and I'm not physically inactive. Interestingly enough, he asked me what I thought my ideal weight should be. I weighed in at 200 pounds and told him that I thought probably around 180. He said that while the charts might say my weight should be even lower, that since I exercise and lift weights, 180 might be a very good weight for me, and attainable. I've heard stories of people going to their doctor and being told to lose weight, so I thought it was an interesting and positive approach to ask me what I thought. Granted, he might have come out and told me I needed to lose weight anyway if I'd said I thought I was already at a good weight, but ultimately it felt more meaningful this way. To look my doctor in the eyes and say--not be told--that I could stand to lose 20 pounds: I think it's more likely that I will do what I need to do to get there. I've already started, though the biggest step was probably planning out our family meals for the next week from the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. We had steaks on Saturday, but we'll probably go more or less meatless over the next week (and the recipes look delicious, so I don't think we'll be suffering for the lack!).

So yeah. All things considered, it was a pretty good visit to the doctor's office.


  1. You and me, both. DH and I are back on the WeightWatchers straight and narrow. I, too, have 20 pounds to lose. *sigh*

  2. Regarding Cholesterol--There are two schools of thought, probably as a result of two kinds of cholesterol. One kind is cholesterol accumulated as a result of poor eating habits and the doctors who focus on that have a flea in their bonnet about lowering cholesterol (watch out for Zetia). Probably rightfully so.

    The other kind of cholesterol level is familial. No amount of proper eating is going to lower those levels to the "book" level, because it runs in your family. That's the way your body works, with an active lifestyle and good eating habits and proper weight and all. Beware of trying to cut back too drastically on cholesterol via medications--remember that your brain needs cholesterol to operate properly and too zealous an approach of cholesterol reduction can backfire.

    My doctor and I finally settled on my being comfortably on the high side of the "normal" limits and it works out fine. He says given the longevity of my family members, probably best not to mess too much with what has obviously worked for a long time.

    Good luck!