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Bill of Health!

Woohoo! Got back from the doctor yesterday, and for the first time in my life, my cholesterol has gone DOWN.

Also, my triglycerides, which were somewhat elevated last year, plunged down into normal ranges. My ratios of good and bad cholesterol are suddenly really really good for a Caucasian human female in her mid-thirties. Rather unexpectedly, I’m a very healthy person.

I expressed bafflement to my doctor. I have slung a lot of mulch, that’s one explanation. My weight certainly hasn’t gone down at all (it’s actually up a bit these days, since it’s too bloody hot for mulching) but I will pretend that large chunks of it are muscle. The only other two reasons that we can come up with are that going off the pill REALLY helped, and the possible one that since we joined a meat CSA, every chunk of meat I eat at home (or at most of our local restaurants) is free-range organic hormone-free antibiotic-free stupidly-healthy meat. I honestly never have any idea how much importance to assign to such things—I do it because it’s ethical and tastes damn good more than because I expect to live any longer*—but I suppose it’s possible.

On the downside—and there’s always a downside—my heart, while not defective per se, definitely seems to have been a floor model purchased at 20% off. Fortunately it hasn’t repeated the Great Palpitation Experience of 2006, where, right after closing on the house, it began doing some exciting little shimmies and I got to wear a monitor taped to my chest for a month. (Diagnosis: stress. I got a divorce a year later, had a full-on nervous breakdown, and my heart chugged along with nary a twitch. The moral of the story is apparently that buying your first house is way more stressful than a divorce. There are charts that bear this out.)

But it does occasionally do a bit of a SQUIR-thrWOP! thing and I go “Dude! Shit! That was a thing!” and then I’m fine. It seems to all be normal variation of human experience, but it happens often enough—and there’s one position I lay in where things start thudding around pretty enthusiastically—so I get to go in to the cardiologist and get an echo-cardiogram to see if anything has exploded recently.

Also, my nurse practitioner puts up with a lot of crap from me, and has long since joined the list of People Who Understand What Ursula Is Like.

I asked “So, if my heart stops, will it hurt?”

She gave me the look that I usually give the beagle and said “Will it hurt?”

“I’m afraid I won’t notice.”

“You’ll notice. If it’s a heart attack, it’ll keep trying to beat, and it will hurt a LOT.”

“And if it just stops…?”

“Just stops?”

“Like I’m watching TV and Dude! My heart! It’s stopped! Will I notice that? I mean, before I die?”

She rubbed her forehead, probably wondering when she drew the short straw. “You’ll have about twenty seconds to panic and not be able to breathe. It won’t be nearly enough time to do anything about it.”

“Will it be time to hit my boyfriend, clutch my chest, and say “Call 911!?”

She made a grim snorting noise that conveyed exactly how much good that was going to do and said “Like I said…not nearly enough time to do anything about it.”

(I gathered from this that by the time the ambulance crew arrived, I’d be a really awesome organ donor.)

“But I’ll notice?”

“Yes. You’ll notice.”

Strangely, knowing these things makes me feel much better.  (This is the same woman to whom I confessed that I was afraid I’d get cancer and try to pop the tumor because I’d think it was a zit. She looked at me, down at my history, and said “In your case, that’s…actually kind of a concern, yeah…”)

I kinda wonder if stuff like this is why they always send the med students along to observe, or if it’s just that not all that many women are comfortable with standing room only for a pap smear.



*I am perfectly willing to believe that it is better for me, but there’s people in the organic food movement who I suspect are trying to cut a bargain with an uninterested universe. “If I only eat gluten-free soy-fed meat from cows who have never been exposed to sunlight, Nothing Bad Will Be Allowed To Happen To Me.” I am never quite sure where the line is between enlightened consumer and trying to buy carbon offsets from God, but I do know good bacon when I eat it.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Public Service Fanaticism! O;D

Going off the pill... better cholesterol... Hi! I'm Beth, and I'm here to tell you about my Fanatic Cause: Thyroid Testing! Did you know that estrogen (common in hormonal birth control) interferes with the body's ability to utilize one of the hormones your thyroid produces? And did you know that hypothyroidism (among other things) can cause high cholesterol?

Ahem. Anyway, keep an eye on your thyroid if you aren't already (TSH should be .4 to 4) -- going off extra estrogen (or as high a dose of it as is in pills) and having that cholesterol go down may suggest that your thyroid is a 20% off model, and/or your immune system is under the impression that the Thyroid Boss drops Phat Lewt. (My immune system has been thinking that the Thyroid Boss should be under attack since I was in my mid-teens, but I only got diagnosed after I was 30. THIS SUCKS, and has contributed to my current fanaticism that no one else suffer the low-grade drag on life, needlessly, as I did.)

On the non-fanatic side, yay for good bacon! (Though, as I am an ovolacto vegetarian, all the more bacon for YOU! O;D )

Re: Public Service Fanaticism! O;D

My thyroid levels all come in normal, but I will keep an eye out!

Hearts don't generally just stop, per se...the worst case is it goes into fibrillation, where it's pumping out of rhythm and can't move blood effectively.

If you're genuinely worried, you might consider buying an AED and making sure your boyfriend knows where it is and how to use it. Ideally, every house would have one -- they're far more effective than CPR -- but they're not quite to the level of cheapness where that's reasonable for everyone.

Actually, I know a guy whose heart did stop. Pretty often apparently. He'd usually pass out for about a day after a plane trip, then be right as rain when he got up. Then he passed out for a pretty long time...turned out that his heart stopped beating for a full 7 seconds. The doctor told him that it's a good thing his blood oxygenation was so efficient, or he would have died. They gave him a pacemaker (turns out a nerve that regulates changes in heart rate wasn't doing its job). Of course, then the wires from the pacemaker gave him a blood clot...

My doctor always wants to know what Con or Ren or Games I've done lately.
You have to keep the Good Ones who Understand you!

Mine asks how the Hula Hooping is going and recently added "has taken up pole dancing" to my file (the nurse freaked out about my bruises).

Note that female heart attacks look different from male ones - and male ones are the ones you tend to see on TV.

You are probably right about the meat doing you good, especially the bacon. Even if you aren't diabetic, eating more meat and less starches will do good things for your weight, cholesterol and general health; if you are, a low-carb diet is pretty much all that's standing between you and an intimate, ongoing relationship with needles full of insulin. So, yeah. More meat, and the muscles you put on from slinging all the mulch, and your body gets healthier. Good luck continuing down the path! I'd like to see you making cool stuff for many years to come!

I just eat gluten free because otherwise there is PAIN and teh pewps. And I just want the cows/chickens/pigs/whatever that I'm eating to have been happy in life, which I don't think they can be if they can hardly move and their udders have sores all over them from being machine-sucked for twelve hours a day and they've never seen the sun.

I have it on very good authority that if your heart just kinda stops beating, you'll feel like you're going to pass out. You think that's what's going on, except then you're dead, not unconscious. (Please only ask how I know this if you really, really want to hear the story.)

OK, I definitely want to hear this one.

Corn does hideous things to the fat in beef. IIRC, grass fed animals have a much better ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat.


the corn in OUR diets (mostly filtered through animal fat) isnt doing us any good ...

I try to make it a point to work with baby docs and med students. It seemed perfectly sensible to say to my doctor, you don't seem to be having any luck with my cervix, shall I come back next week? Apparently, "a good sport" is now in my file.

I love doctors who add relevant things to your file! Mine has a note that i Hula Hoop and that i pole dance so that the nurses don't freak out about the bruises!

Slinging mulch certainly will build muscle. (Muscle is denser than fat; stuff moves around, weight loss, not so much.)

Slinging mulch is terrible cardio, unless you're doing it like a traditional load-sixteen-tons coal miner every day.

Walking or cycling to the cafe you write in would do it, though; it takes astonishingly little exercise to make a difference. (Birding doesn't work because one so rarely just walks rapidly for twenty minutes without stopping when birding.)

We sound a lot alike at the doctor's office. Both my doctor and the nurse are getting used to saying "You.. wait, what???"

Glad you are doing well and hopefully will be producing all sorts of wonderful creative weirdnessess for us to view and enjoy for a long time to come.

As for the human teaching aid, happens to me at dental offices from time to time. My teeth have really deep and strong roots. As the dentist phrased it when I went in for a root canal a couple weeks ago. "You have impossibly deep roots." He didn't want to do the root canal, as the cavity wasn't as bad as my regular dentist had feared, and he would have to find a dental supply house that made the little root removal tools in a long enough size for me. He also mentioned remembering doing another root canal on me a couple years ago, and mentioned that he was worried about sticking the root removal files in so deeply that they would poke into the backside of my eyeball.

My dad, he used to be brought out to harvard medical school for students to examine every year or so. As he had a lung problem that was very similar to what long term smokers get, but had never smoked in his life, and the treatment for him was very different from the smokers lung patients. At least they paid my dad for his visits to harvard med. The dentists still billed me exactly the same, plus they would have the other dentists in the office all come in and look in my mouth and admire my x-rays.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with smoking-look-alike lung issues at nine, so I'm really curious about what your dad had.

Speaking as someone who has been through two divorces with nothing more serious than a couple of cracked teeth (I grind really, really hard when I'm stressed), but who was diagnosed with psychosomatic rheumatoid arthritis while closing on a house (ankles that looked like I had weights wrapped around them under my socks, and I tested positive for the enzyme and everything, then after the house closed my ankles went back to normal and I tested negative for the enzyme), I am here to tell you that, yes, closing on a house is more physically (if nothing else) stressful than a divorce.


Yeah, my husband and I just bought a house a month ago and finally moved into it on Friday. Maybe we can go back to somewhat normal now...

OMFG, Ursula... I have had that thought, re tumours and thinking, ooh, zit, better pop that bad boy.

I have never even considered sharing that thought with anyone, ever, until now. I am officially Not The Only One, and I feel oddly better about it.

Edited at 2012-08-05 05:59 am (UTC)

*grin* It's very very rare in life that We Are The Only One, I've found...

Funnily enough, I know a guy whose heart stopped suddenly, just like that. He just noticed he didn't have a pulse. And then he WAS able to call for help, and survived. He says he had about half a minute.

I don't know if that makes you more or less worried but it's an interesting titbit of information nonetheless. ;)