Yesterday, I spent the last half of the afternoon bouncing around on cloud nine, doing a mental happy dance.
I hadn’t felt that good in a long, long time – and I’ll tell you why I was in such a great mood.
I had my bloodwork follow-up appointment with My Flipping Awesome Doctor yesterday. Since I’m losing my BCBS insurance in about 2 weeks, I’ve been frenetically getting a bunch of appointments taken care of. My primary care physician readily agreed to run bloodwork for thyroid, liver, and kidney function just to make sure nothing was going on there, as well as standard CBC, cholesterol, Vitamin D, and gluten sensitivity. A slew of other stuff was in there, as well.
As always, I was looking forward to the appointment. I have never looked forward to doctor appointments – having a good doctor has literally changed my life, plus he’s just fun to talk to. As I’ve said before, if you’re shopping for a new doc, I’ll gladly give you his contact information.
When he came in with his laptop and files, we exchanged our usual greetings and got down to business. “Hit me with it,” I said. “Tell me my cholesterol is at 800 and that my gluten sensitivity is 5 billion. I’m ready to hear it.”
The last time I had my cholesterol checked, it was literally too high to read accurately. My triglycerides were so high, they interfered with the rest of the test, and everything else was sky-high, too. My dad has battled high cholesterol and triglycerides for decades.
He read over my lab results, his eyebrows slowly rising.
Here it comes, I thought. I braced for incoming bad news.
“Your cholesterol is fricking awesome,” he began. “Your total number is 158, and your ratio is 3.4. HDL is 46mg, LDL is 84mg. Your triglyerides are way, way down.”
“Fuckin’-A!” I exclaimed somewhat involuntarily, and we both laughed. “Here’s the weird thing: I stopped taking Simvastatin maybe 6 or 8 months ago, started drinking whole, raw, unpasteurized milk over a year ago, and started eating meat a little less than a year ago.”
“Wow,” he said, surprised.
“You know what I’ve been doing less of, though? Eating out. Eating less processed foods.”
“Yup, that’ll do it, that’s the big thing right there. Let’s look at your gluten… huh. IGG is a little bit high, but basically normal. I think if you go in moderation, don’t overdo it, you can probably start eating wheat again.”
“Liver and kidneys are good, thyroid is good, Vitamin D is a little low – start taking a supplement for that, 1000iu per day – and you were a little dehydrated, but that’s normal for a fasting read. Plus you fasted for what, 16 hours? Yeah, we’re going to call that normal.”
He looked up at me, with a goofy grin on his face. “Damn,” he said, simply. I nodded, grinning myself, a huge weight lifted.
“You fixed me,” I grinned back.
“Well, you fixed you – I just helped give you the right information to do it.”
We talked a little bit about my insurance situation, and he explained his fees for uninsured patients. He looked genuinely sad for me, asked how things were going with my mom and wished me the best.
The take-away lesson for me here? Real food is way healthier than processed food.
This comes as no surprise to me or anyone else, I know, but instead of a mere intellectual concept now, I have proof for myself. The numbers were from me, not from a study or from another source – this is something I can really wrap my brain around.
I started eating a heck of a lot more “real” cholesterol-containing foods, and yet my levels went down. Perhaps exercise has something to do with it, but I only do yoga once per week now and haven’t been on the bike since winter hit.
I’m not bombarding my system with wheat-containing products – my whole diet revolved around wheat when I was still vegetarian. Most of the veggie fake meats contain a lot of wheat, and of course I ate a lot of pasta and sandwiches. Bread was one of my favorite things. And pizza! Oh my goodness, the pizza.
I suspect the systemic reaction from the wheat had something to do with my increased cholesterol, too – I can’t quite wrap my brain around the particulars, not having a vast physiology education, but I can sense intuitively why that might be the case.
So, what to do now?
For the most part, I’m going to stick to a largely gluten-free diet. I’ve pretty much gotten used to it now, and it seems to be making me healthier. No reason to deviate from it just yet. What I do plan to do once in awhile, though, is to indulge in something yummy – a real pizza, or a nice sandwich or a loaf of bread or eating in a restaurant!
The key is going to be maintaining the discipline to keep those indulgences to a bare minimum. I really don’t want to go back to where those levels were before. Having the looming specter of High Cholesterol hanging over one’s head (or heart, I suppose) is a constant stressor.
Any little twinge remotely near the mediastinum had me thinking – “heart attack pre-cursor? Stenosis of a vessel? Or just a little gas?” I’ll worry a bit less now. And goodness knows, I need all the “less worry” I can get.
After my appointment, I went grocery shopping, and it was hard to keep from literally bouncing around the store. I was so relieved, so damned happy to be well again, to have more choices.
This gives me hope it’s not “too late” to be a healthy person, gives me further incentive to keep going down a healthy path.
All this, because my doctor listens to me and agrees to tests I’d like to have run. He susses out problems and doesn’t take throw-away answers like, “I’m fine” at face value. He engages me in conversation and lets me know he’s genuinely interested in my health. I adore this guy and am hugely grateful to him.
Links related to Real Food:
Buy Raw Milk Near You! (There will be less pus in it – and who wants to drink pus?)