A Case Study, C’est Moi


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, Β 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.

Dr. Awesome


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?” Β 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:

Free-Range Eggs Healthier than Non

Buy Raw Milk Near You! (There will be less pus in it – and who wants to drink pus?)

Buy humane, organic meat in Michigan

Fabulous resources for traditional, slow food


Gardener's Supply Company - Deal of the Week

Posts at least a little bit like this one:

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8 responses to A Case Study, C’est Moi

  1. I should have something like this done soon. I would hate to see how bad all of my vitals are. I think both Meranda and I are going to try and eat out less. We did pretty good for a few weeks but it seems like we are back to eating out again :/

    • Erin D.

      Travis, get out there and DO EET, mang. It’s good to know where your levels are, then you can make better choices for yourself – or not, depending upon what you want to do. So many of us have unhealthy relationships with food (myself sooo included,) and it’s hard to make good choices all the time.

  2. Severin

    Very proud of ya, Erin. It sounds like you had an extra Continue after all. πŸ™‚

    Did the doc mention having seen this kind of success with other patients? I’d be surprised if he wasn’t planning to pass this on to those still struggling.

    I’m jealous! The only ‘success story’ I’m a part of was from the sex change operation a few years back, but the car accident did most the work.

    • Erin D.

      Thanks, Sev. My doctor hadn’t seen this before, but he wasn’t shocked. A friend with a bunch of food sensitivities said her doctor had told her they might go away after a year, which is why I decided to check. I didn’t realize it could vanish, either, but man – I’m glad it did. πŸ™‚

  3. Kelley

    I literally said “woo hoo!” out loud after reading about your positive doctor’s appointment – those are special gems that can be difficult to find. Yay Erin!

    I too noticed that once almost all processed goods were out of my diet that other health issues improved and I’m so happy that you experienced this benefit! It’s difficult to describe how good it feels to nourish your body with good food – I know it’s cheesy but dang the difference is remarkable. Plus it tastes better!

    • Erin D.

      Kelley, thanks! It’s still an ongoing process (I eat more crap than I should,) but way better than I used to. I’m excited about getting to eat in restaurants again. πŸ™‚ Too, the cheesy sayings in life are trite and cliche for a reason – they’re often true!

  4. Mel

    When I move to day schedule in May, there will definitely be pullets moving into my currently-empty chicken coop. I just have to rig netting over the area to deter hawks, as we’ve got a fairly relentless red-tailed in the neighborhood.

    And now that the ice is subsiding a bit, I need to get back into the groove of visiting the nearby raw organic dairy. So good.

    • Erin D.

      Mel, yay! I have deer netting over the top of our coop to protect against raptors and other critters. Something like a raccoon would easily get through it, but I’m hoping (perhaps against hope) they’ll stay away. So far, the only things that’ve managed to get in are small rodents and frogs, and I’m pretty ok with them hanging around and “freeloading.”

      And yes! Hie thee hence to the local dairy! πŸ™‚

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