Here’s to you, Doc

I like to speak badly of the doctor who had the gall to keep finding things wrong with me, but when it comes right down to it, I’m grateful. No one likes to hear bad medical news, but once you know, you can do something about it.

I should probably back up a bit. Not long after I got married I decided (okay, was practically forced at gunpoint by my wife) to go see a doctor about my allergies. My doctor didn’t just check on my allergies. He gave me a full physical, including blood work. What he found was that I had a high level of VLDL, Very Low Density Lipids, or triglycerides. Or, as the doctor explained it, you have your good cholesterol (HDL), your bad cholesterol (LDL), and your not-good cholesterol (VLDL).

He immediately put me on a diet which, if it didn’t work, would be followed up by medication. Fortunately the diet worked. I’d been eating too much sweets after getting married, and once I cut that back and started exercising more I was fine. I also lost 30 pounds I’d gained since leaving college. No biggie. Thanks, Doc!

Except he wasn’t through. The next checkup the weight loss allowed him to hear my heart more clearly, and what he heard wasn’t good. He sent me to a cardiologist, who determined I have two leaky valves. At that point I started half-jokingly threatening to stop going to the doctor so he wouldn’t keep finding things wrong with me.

The thing is, awareness is half the battle, at least for me. Now that I know, I can maintain my weight and not worry too much about cholesterol. I take medication for my heart condition which seems to have arrested the problem. It’s been nearly ten years now, and the cardiologist still thinks we may have to do something about the problem maybe twenty years from now. Every year I can put that off increases the chance that much more that they’ll have better, less-invasive procedures to fix my valves by the time I need them, or that I won’t need any surgery at all (something else will kill me first, to put it bluntly).

Knowledge really is power. I may not have liked getting bad news from my doctor, but knowing what I know, I can take control of the situation and do what it takes to make sure I’m still around for awhile.

Tomorrow I’ve got my yearly appointment with the cardiologist. Of course I’m hoping for good news. But if it’s not, I hope I’ll have learned my lesson enough to not hold it against him.


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