Last Wednesday, I had an appointment with the OB/GYN.
You’ve been worried. Good news: my uterus is totally normal and small again. It’s retreated back to its little hole in the wall kind of like a bunch of happy Fraggles. Amen to that. The last thing any woman needs is an angry uterus. Like my last visit, the doctor brings up the subject of my next pregnancy. I tell her it will happen soon enough. Until then, let’s not talk about it. For the next 9 months at least I would like to not think about the fact that the clock is loudly ticking and my soon to be 36-year old eggs are close to expiring.
Now that I’m in the F-ELDERLY age group, I needed some tests; iron, TSH, cholesterol, etc. The doctor tells me the results will come in tomorrow.
Tomorrow arrives. Late afternoon. I get the call.
We have your test results.
I’ve been waiting...for what I know will be a sparkly clean bill of health!
Your TSH is very high.
That is not sparkly. So, it's high? Surely this has something to do with pregnancy. My hormones are probably all out of whack. But that still doesn’t make sense. I had it tested in late pregnancy when my hair was falling out and I was convinced I had a faulty thyroid. Turns out I just had loose hair. Now it's high? Doesn’t that mean I should be gaining weight? Is THAT what explains the last 5 pounds?
Have you ever seen an endocrinologist?
No! I don’t even like going to the dentist!
Next we move on to cholesterol. Tell me something good, nurse, TELL ME SOMETHING GOOD!
She then rattles off all sorts of ugly numbers. My good cholesterol was low, my bad was high and triglycerides? It’s like I just ate a McGriddle for breakfast and washed it down with a Frappucino. Do NOT hold the whip.
It gets worse…
You also show signs of being glucose intolerant.
WHAT is that?
It’s a pre-cursor for diabetes.
Diabetes? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Now, I’ll admit to series of holiday indiscretions where my blood may have run sugar for an entire week in December. And, yes, I know I can down an entire gallon of ice cream if challenged (or, if it’s just in the house) but seriously – diabetes? Here I was thinking I was healthy. I eat mostly good. How good does good have to be? What fun is life if you can’t eat half a pumpkin pie for breakfast every once in awhile?
Your B.U.N. is high.
My WHAT!? Is that a polite way of saying my ass is fat? I JUST HAD A BABY!
It’s a marker of poor kidney function.
Impossible. I am up every night at least 3 times peeing. I’d say my kidneys are fully operational.
Your creatinine is also high.
I swear I don’t take any illegal supplements!
The doctor wants you to follow up with your primary care physician. And we’ll fax a copy of these results to him.
End of call.
Silence. There I stood with one foot on the ground and one foot in a shallow but overindulgent grave. Is that it? Reading off a bunch of bad numbers to me and that’s that? I felt confused. I stared at a piece of paper full of numbers that painted the picture of me being like any average American, a metabolic mess! Here I was thinking I took care of myself. All that flax seed, all that greek yogurt, the vegetables, the whole grains…bullshit! I’m the most unhealthy fit person out there! And, to top it all off, lately I’ve been feeling great.
How could my body have lied to me?
In times like this of medical distress, it helps to turn to a source that you can rely upon. So I go to the internet. I start searching everything, comparing numbers, reading theories, forums. It takes me less than 20 minutes to convince myself that I am just like any other sedentary, middle-aged, overeating, fast food loving, overstressed, overworked, overweight woman.
How did this happen to me?
Then I consider what to do next. Call the doctor? Arrange an appointment? I don’t even know my primary care physician that well. Why? I’m rarely sick so why on earth would I just pop in to see him! So I contact the one doctor who knows me better than anyone else.
(Let me clarify that Dr. Nuts is real; he is a friend but better yet a urologist – hence the name Nuts - who works in Rancho Santa Fe where he treats many cases of penis implant dysfunction and other urological catastrophes of the celebrities. Honestly, I could not make this shit up.)
In a desperate email, I ask him if I’m dying.
The phone rings.
DR. NUTS HEARD MY CRY! HE IS GOING TO SAVE ME.
I don’t make it to the phone in time and it goes to voicemail. As soon as I think I’ll be dialing Dr. Nuts, I realize it was OB/GYN office. They called me again.
THIS CANNOT BE GOOD!
We’d like to further discuss your test results.
GASP! Should we also discuss my funeral?
Then it hits me – how am I going to tell Chris and my mom that I am a complete health trainwreck. Who will give me the 100 pills that I will likely need every day. And, more importantly, will either of them donate a kidney because according to Wikipedia I am one piss away from pissing one of them completely out!
I call the doctor back.
Elizabeth, I have to apologize.
For my bad health? Don’t! It’s my fault I can’t control myself with a tub of Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Cups. And I know I ate a lot of "stuff" over the holidays but who knew that it would look like I’ve been shooting triglycerides straight into my veins. And let me tell you, if this is what my profile looks like no wonder we have a nation of obesity. I eat vegetables. MANY TIMES A DAY. If I’m this screwed, imagine the rest of the general public!
I read you the wrong test results.
Someone else’s results got put into your chart.
Is this a joke? Is there where Candid Camera pops out of my pantry and says that I’m on national television? Because I almost shit myself. Worse yet, I almost thought about giving up desserts, bacon AND gluten.
I’m so sorry, someone else’s chart got stuck in your file.
All of a sudden, from deep in my gut, the following comes out:
YOU SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME.
I WAS GOOGLING ALL OF THESE CONDITIONS WONDERING WHAT THE HELL WAS WRONG WITH ME, CONVINCED I WAS DYING.
I’m so sorry.
HAVE YOU SEEN ME!
Yes, and it made me wonder about the results because they didn’t make sense.
I TAKE VERY GOOD CARE OF MYSELF!!!!!!!
I can see that, your test results are much better.
You bet they are! But let me tell you, according to Wikipedia, that other woman, she’s a mess!
Turns out that my cholesterol is low in all the right places. Along with my thyroid. My iron is fine. And I am not glucose intolerant. My B.U.N and creatinine are high but Dr. Nuts tells me that is a result of muscle breakdown or dehydration from my most recent workout. Dr. Nuts also assured me I was not dying but did suggest I find another doctor.
Later that evening, I was thinking: imagine if you had been read those poor results and they were yours. How would you react? Is it just me or do most people seem to approach their physical health with ignorance, not making the connection between what they do and who they are. Not respecting the power of the choices they make. Not worrying it all until it’s too late. It makes me wonder how people can choose a lifestyle of poor diet and lack of physical activity. Do they really want that? Or do they just not fully understand the implications.
Every week in Kate’s studio, I read the same quote painted in hopeful cursive high upon the wall.
Take care of your body, it’s the only place you have to live.
Stripped away of your career, possessions, relationships, all you have is your body. One chance, one time through. Two choices: actively work to destroy it or actively work to preserve it as long as you can. To me, the choice is obvious. I want to be here long enough to experience the world from all decades in the best possible health.
I laugh about it now, but it was one of those you’ll never know until you’re in the situation type of experiences. I never imagined I would have bad test results, so I never knew how it would feel. Even though they weren’t mine, hearing all of those numbers was a horrible feeling. And plenty of motivation to stay fit, keep eating of kale (I’m obsessed with it!) and take care of this body. I’m going to keep my first – and only – time through my best!
Take care of you too!