My family medical history really sucks! There is just no nice way to express my frustration with this gift that keeps on giving. I have written about it previously and my most recent doctor visits influenced my decision to write about my health journey again.
Preventative health care was simply something I did when I was younger because people said I should. I think I followed directives in my youth because I was young and I felt invincible or maybe because I had no concern about the medical findings or recommendations. At this stage in my life, “white coats” make me apprehensive. I put “white coats” in quotes because my doctors don’t wear coats. I have the hippest, coolest medical team. They are kind, compassionate, and experts in their respective fields. My dentist, my gynecologist, and my family medicine team encourage my twisted humor, my thoughtful presentation of my decision history, and my awareness of my present life condition. Over the last few years, two of them have empathized with me because of the major life shifts I have endured. I honestly think they were shocked that my body came up from the ashes yet again. They knew the historical family dynamics that lived with me and they knew the I had survived several major life changes. Their body language always seemed to bear the weight of my heavy life burdens. I appreciated their concern and help because my life shifts came in bundles of at least three heavy weights at a time.
In their efforts to keep the temple solid, they monitored my blood pressure. This task has been assigned to a doctor for at least fifteen years. Everyone in my immediate family fought that good fight for many years. I have been told that retention of salt was necessary in order to survite Middle Passage. While many campfires welcomed death-by-sea on this involuntary journey to America, my ancestors survived and so did high blood pressure. Hence, I, too, fight the good fight.
Some time in the spring of last year, my doctor approved a comfort dog after learning that my brother died and that my support system was minimal. He seemed quite sad actually. He also ordered more blood work in order to further investigate my cholesterol numbers. He said, “things change as we get older.” I wrote a blog about that visit because he also told me to “eat less meat and exercise more” which to me was code for you are fat and need to lose weight. So, I went back to the doctor a few weeks ago to hear about the recheck of the cholesterol since that visit. I was expecting to hear “you are still fat and you still need to walk more.” Instead I learned I was down two pounds, my blood pressure readings was great, and my cholesterol numbers, good and bad, were much better. For a few seconds I was super excited and proud of myself. Then, the physician assistant said some other number was low and they wanted to explore it further. My thought bubble read, “You gotta be kidding me! Do you just need to find something wrong with me?” I told her that her particular concern was not a new medial findings. I tried to convince her that my normal number for this test always hovered just below the “normal” range.
Once again the hella bad family history guided her next decision. She ordered more blood work. She didn’t just order a recheck of that one test, she ordered every freakin’ test known to humankind. She tested me for every blood disorder and disease for which there was a blood test. Within the following two weeks, I had to get to a lab. Two arms and three pricks later they had all of the genetic information they needed to assess my medical status. I was glad to learn that most of the test were negative and that eating more bananas and avocados could possible remedy the low potassium issue.
Doctor visits never ranked high on my to do list, but I still believe that it is better to know than not to know. I believe that it is better to know sooner than later. I believe in advocating for preventive health care and I hope that those in positions of power will work to ensure that everyone can access excellent preventive care. Prevention leads to early and more effective medical care. Preventive health care can also lead to a better quality of life and who doesn’t aspire to that end? Go to the doctor and take a friend or family member if the idea frightens you. Take a friend or family member if you want to enrich your life and theirs. Read my other blog post about my awful family history if you need encouragement. Use my stories to motivate you and to reassure you that you are not in this thing alone.