In between my first and second surgeries, the doctors suspected I had a small tumor on my adrenal gland, which a CT confirmed. However, the Endocrinologist didn’t seem too concerned about it and his recommendation was to just keep an eye on it. Around that time, I decided to quit my job and go back to school to finish up my teaching certification, so I lost my insurance coverage and it took a while to get onto my husband’s. And like an idiot, I never scheduled a follow-up appointment with and just kept telling myself that it was nothing to worry about and I’d get it checked out when I could.
Fast forward four years. Four years! I had just finished up my second year of teaching and we moved to Kansas City. I got a new job and still, it took another year before I got established with a new primary care physician. You know how most specialist doctors are – they require a referral from another doctor before they will see you. On the day of my appointment, I had had a particularly eventful morning with work and when I got to the doctor’s office my blood pressure was through the roof! It was something like 180 over 102 so my doctor and I never got around to talking about the tumor because my blood pressure was so high. As it turns out, my heart is fine and long story short, I’m on blood pressure medication for now. However, after running a battery of tests we found out that my cholesterol is dangerously high – GREAT! You know me, overachiever! What did this new doctor have to say about that…like a lot of doctors, she said I needed to focus on my diet and exercise and to join Weight Watchers and she’d recheck me in six months. And I have to tell you, this was very disappointing to hear. I’ll come back to that in a minute.
After getting my BP under control, I finally got in for a new CT, and the gal running the show pulled in two different doctors to look at the scans. None of them could find an adrenal tumor so they told me they’d send the scans to my doctor and sent me home. I have to admit, I was relieved, but still somewhat suspicious. My doctor told me that everything looked clear but that she still wanted me to get set up with a new endocrinologist. This was in February and I had to wait until June to get into him. June! This always slays me. Why is it when you try to get in with a fancy doctor do you have to wait forever? Anyway. When June finally rolled around, and since we’re in the middle of a pandemic, this new doctor and I met via telehealth. Of course, as these things tend to go, the other doctor did not send the scans over, so he walked me through some questions, and he had some concerns. This led to more blood work, which I’m happy to report has all come back normal. But what he said next really hit home with me. We were talking about my hypertension and cholesterol level and his immediate response to me was that if he had been the first doctor that he would not have said, “let’s check it again in six months.” He told me that since my cholesterol was so high that it was more than likely for genetic reasons, not due to diet and exercise and he recommended getting into a lipid specialist. I could have hugged the man and probably would have had we been in person. Here’s why.
I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve struggled with diet and exercise since I was 14 years old. And all the doctors can ever say is join Weight Watchers, or here let me write you a prescription for Phentermine, or you just need to start exercising and it will solve all your problems. They say you need to eat all the fat, or none of the fat, or only plants, or all the meat. Is it any wonder we’re all confused? Kids, I’m here to tell you that this is all bullshit. Sorry for the language, but it’s true! Think about it, if dieting worked, there would not be an obesity epidemic in our country or the world for that matter! Dieting is a billion-dollar industry. Now, I’m not trying to turn this into an infomercial about weight loss, but I do want to tell you that I’ve had my eyes opened by new research and I’m going to tell you all about it next week so be prepared to have your mind-hole blown wide open.
You’re probably wondering if there is a point to this article, and here it is. Sometimes, doctors can say really dumb things. Not to completely bash the medical profession, but there are some doctors who are straight-up lazy and would rather write you a prescription rather than take whole-body measures into consideration. I’ve not felt well for the last two years. My sleep pattern is jacked, my anxiety level is sky-high, I’ve had bouts of depression, weight gain, and some days my body just freaking hurts. I’m going to let you in on a little secret…I have a big birthday coming up in November and I do not want to go into the next decade of my life feeling this way. And I will admit that I have sometimes struggled to take my own advice when it comes to my health. Life has gotten busy and I haven’t made time for myself. I’m here to tell you that denial isn’t just a river in Africa. Sorry for the pun, but it’s true. The biggest lie I think we tell ourselves is, “everything is fine.” For me, everything has not been fine, and I’ve been kicking myself for wasting so much time feeling like crap. The advice I have for you today is the same advice I’m giving to myself. You know your body. You know when it doesn’t feel right. Don’t ignore it. You have to trust that it’s going to tell you when something is off. You must also go get wellness exams. Ladies, you need to perform self-breast exams at least once a month. Men, the same goes for your testicles. Do it in the shower and call it a day. Wear sunscreen and get your skin checked at least once a year – in fact, most hospitals hold skin checks in May so sign up for an appointment. Have regular blood work done once a year and keep up on immunizations. Ask questions. Get second opinions. Keep appointments. I know that all of this is a lot easier said than done and dealing with insurance sucks, but it’s better than the alternative. There are people in your lives who want and need you to be healthy. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
What’s been going on with you lately? Have you had a crazy experience with doctors or your health? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, you can leave any questions or comments below.