Wednesday, February 27, 2008

God of Cardiology

So I had to suffer through my annual visit to the Great God of Cardiology on Friday. Seriously, this guy is good at what he does and all, but I am a bundle of nerves when I go to see him. I have had two open-heart surgeries – they were only 5 years apart, and the last one was 16 years ago – and I am in dread of having another one foisted on me. This is my incentive for healthy eating and other (hopefully) healthy habits, some of which elude me at times. I am only human, after all. It doesn’t seem like exercising is first on my to-do list when I drag my tired ol’ butt home from a day that started around 4 a.m-ish and finds me walking in the door at 5:40 or so. With a meal still to prepare or at least to reheat (we cook on weekends and reheat during the week), too. I do feel more energized after I exercise, but try telling that to my body which just wants to plop down on the couch!

I had the unfortunate experience of having rheumatic fever when I was 9, and it whacked-out my immune system. So when I got any subsequent strep infections (many which were never diagnosed nor treated), scar tissue formed on my mitral heart valve. And of course those infections lasted into my adult years, culminating with an eventual replacement of that valve with an artificial one when I was only 43. These valve jobs last only so long. So far, so good for me on that score – it’s still flapping away in there, just fine. If I am in a very quiet room, I can actually hear it, in fact.

I knew my blood pressure reading would be higher than the god liked (it always is – I definitely have that white-coat syndrome when I see him). He wants it below 120, seriously lower than that. As usual, the nurse had trouble getting a bp reading on me – apparently my sounds are very quiet. She had readings from 127 to 138 (guess which one she wrote down?). The doc had doubled up one of my bp meds last year, and within a few weeks my ankles and feet were so swollen that it looked like I was trying to wear shoes much too small for me. So I went back to the original dosage, knowing that this would raise the bp more than the doc would like. But at least my ankles returned into the pre-elephant-man size they had been.

I had to do blood work so that he’d have the results before I got in there. So last Friday – showtime! After a 2-hours-plus stay in the appropriately-named waiting room (yes, this is how it frequently goes in cardiology), I was finally ushered into the office where the afore-mentioned bp readings were noted and I surrendered my somewhat lengthy list of daily meds. Then I just sat and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Good thing I had picked up a recent book to read. For a change of pace, I read a magazine which was on the desk in the examining room. And thought about what I would get for lunch after this was over – other than the stiff drink that I really wanted…

Finally he enters the room. Looks over my folder. Asks how things are going (I swear that I would not confess to doubling-over chest pains, even if it were true, to give this guy any satisfaction). Not really. But that’s how I generally feel in there. In my mind, it’s an adversarial situation.

I explain to him the side effects I had from the doubled-up dose of that bp med, and then told him I went back to the original dose. He chose another med to double-up on. We’ll see. I think I’ll do some advance scouting on the internet on this one and see what possible side effects I should watch out for.

Next he glances at the blood work results. “Your LDL reading is high”. He wants it in the 70-something range, and mine apparently came in at 98. I retorted, “Do you know what I eat?” and of course he didn’t. So I laid it out for him – fish twice a week (not fried), chicken and just a small portion of red meat. We even have meatless meals. What else should I do? He didn’t have a reply. I didn't even add that we only drink skim milk and have for years.

I checked it out on the internet when I left there – HDL and LDL and the relationships between those two. Turns out that I am in the optimum range for LDL (anything below 100 is okay) and my HDL is off the chart – reading of 100. Anything above 60 is considered HIGH and also considered desirable. What a chump he is. Always gotta find something to nitpick. I am so glad that I am not seriously overweight. I am sure that I would feel humiliated by the time I left his office if that were the case.

My cardiologist is mean. That’s it, folks – just mean. Maybe I can find a more easy-going cardiology doc when we relocate to the Minneapolis area. At least a more benevolent one. Wish me luck.

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