Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An epiphany or two

I'm going to post this here, since so many of my co-bloggers have sort of given up the other blog we share. That's how much I want you guys to think about some of these things with me, OK?

So here goes:

New inspiration

I finally was able to go see a doctor today (Well, I guess now it's yesterday since it's after midnight.) I think it's been well over four years since I was able to see a doctor because of the lack of insurance. My new coverage just recently kicked in.

For once, I was pleased to see the number on the scale. It confirms that I've lost 14 pounds since we started this project together. If you think of all that has happened in that time, I count that as a good achievement.

You know what was great about this doctor's visit? No nagging about my weight! Yes, I need to lose more weight. I'd personally like to lose 35 pounds now. That is certainly a goal that can be accomplished, and with dedication, it wouldn't take long.

But in addition to not being nagged, my new doctor planted a new thought in my mind. Perhaps it's because my new doc is a woman, but when she talked to me, she had a whole new perspective that I've never gotten from a male doctor. (It also could be my age. Now that I'm past the 50-year-old benchmark, it could be that I'm in some golden-age group where health care is routinely handled differently.)

OK, so for whatever reason, it was the approach that has made all the difference to me with this consultation. Take the emphasis off the weight itself as THE PROBLEM. Instead, let's talk about it from the other side.

"We need to work on getting your blood pressure back under control," New Doctor said. "There comes a time in our lives when we need to start letting go of some of the things that stress us out so we can focus on the things that make our lives worth living."

READ THAT AGAIN. And a third time, for good measure!

It was an epiphany for me. Here's someone approximately my age, or in the ballpark, who is a medical professional, and she's giving me permission to slow down and stop killing myself. I don't have to keep running so hard any more to justify myself professionally or personally.

We talked quite a bit about taking life easier, downshifting to a slower pace and improving the quality of life.

We talked quite a bit about the fact that my dad died at 56 -- just four years older than I am right now. My brother died at 42. My mom lived to 74 -- which may seem like a good age, but consider the lineage on her side of my family... most all of the relatives on that side lived into their late 90s, except my mother and her sister. One great-aunt lived to 101.

I told the doctor that if I averaged it all, I probably could count on making it to 60, followed by a scared little laugh. Unfortunately I'm thinking that might have too much the ring of truth to it.

"We none of us get out of this alive," she said. "The trick is to make these years as good for ourselves as we can."

READ THAT AGAIN. And a third time, for good measure.

"It's time to slow down and enjoy the pleasures of eating better, of drinking better. To build a support network of friends and enjoy a slower pace of life. To GET BETTER SLEEP."

I emphasized the part about getting better sleep and what a key component this is in keeping our hearts healthy.

I have sleep apnea, but I am very stubborn and refuse to use my CPAP machine. Why? Because the doggone tubing easily comes apart during the night and blows pressurized air in my eye or my ear. Yeah duh. There are better tubing systems out there that are far more comfortable. I have tons of friends who have used them and speak with amazement about how much better they sleep when they use their machines -- how much more rested they are when they can actually BREATHE at night.

OK, so my brother died of sleep apnea and/or heart failure; my dad had a heart attack, my mom died of congestive heart failure. Gee, unless I'm hit by a bus or something, I can kind of see what's going to take me out, too.

New Doctor wants to repeat my sleep study to see what stage my apnea is at and what my settings should be on my machine, and we're going to look at finding some better equipment, something I can use comfortably, that will improve the quality of my sleep and maybe extend my life. What a concept!

And -- this is important -- she looked in my nose. Imagine that, a doctor looking at a patient's ability to breathe! She jumped back a bit and said "No wonder you have such a hard time breathing through that little nose!" Apparently it's quite the mess in there and isn't serving me very well. I asked if she could get me some rhinoplasty because I've always wanted a nose job. She quite seriously said that might be something we need to look at, because I'm not getting enough air through this defective part. Thanks for your genetic contribution, Grandpa Smith! She also prescribed a nasal spray to open up the little space I do have inside my noggin.

Before I left, they did an EKG, drew blood, and had me pee in a cup. They are going to take a good look at the labwork and the EKG and have me come back in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, she's put me on a new drug for my blood pressure which includes a dose of Lipitor for cholesterol, so I don't have to take more pills. Lipitor works wonders for me in controlling my cholesterol, so I'm glad to have that component back. I hope the blood pressure shows great improvement over this time.

I suspect, that with her help and compassion, I'll be showing some improvements all around before long. I think all of us do better physically when we think there's someone who cares about how we're doing. And that includes the weight issue.

After all, it's not the weight itself that we should be concerned about. It's what it does to our bodies, our quality of life, that matters. I think we've approached things backwards for a long time. We've turned weight into a shame matter instead of a quality of life issue.

This is what I want to change, for whatever time I happen to have left. It's time for me to slow down, let go of the stressors and love the life I've been given! And at 52, a Quarter Pounder and fries just isn't loving enough.


Anonymous said...

I've been having such a hard time getting inspired to take care of myself lately. This really helped.

My mom has sleep apnea. It seems I remember her telling me that she found a better contraption to sleep in. I'll ask her if I'm remembering right and pass along the info.

drlobojo said...

My wife has sleep apnea and uses a c-pap (sp) machine. I can not tell you how much better I sleep now.

Trixie said...

See, I know the cpap machines are really made for the mates of those with sleep apnea. It's amazing they stick around, considering how attractive the headgear is!