Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Appointment Viewing 


“You'll have to stay in the waiting area for fifteen minutes after the shot, to see if you have an allergic reaction. Do you have time for that?” I did and so the end of my first routine physical exam in over two years arrived with a jab and a bandage. I didn't realize tetanus shots were required every ten years. I'm guessing I dodged enough rusty nails over the last umpteenth years for it not to come up. I genuinely do not recall having one before. Apparently I had. It was in my file.

There I was, checking my watch and waiting as the nurses called out for the next patient, “Martha? Martha?”

Waiting for what? I had no idea what an allergic reaction to a tetanus shot would be. I felt anxious. Accelerated heart rate. Hot. Sweating. Slightly nauseated. But that could be called Monday morning. It was my first physical in a few years and it couldn’t have been more uneventful. Basically it was simply a review of my blood work I’d had done months before. A nurse took my blood pressure, heart rate, height and weight then, after reviewing my file with my GP, they gave me a tetanus shot.

There was one little thing. My cholesterol was up. Not “up” enough to need medication but not low enough to not have to tell me about it. This presents a couple of problems. The blood test that resulted in this scolding was done in December. I have no idea if now, months later it is lower, still high or worse, higher still. Then there is the fact I can’t really do anything with that information. By all other metrics I’m not over-weight, diabetic, have hypertension or anything else that could be easily monitored. There is no easy way to measure your cholesterol so how do you know? I don’t eat a ton of fatty, salty foods or sweets or whatever but maybe I could add more greens (kale?) but how would I know if cutting out mixed nuts and adding more mixed greens would do anything? I exercise regularly and doubt I could add much more. I’m sure I could but at the cost of being an even more unbearable jerk who tells you how much exercise they do. I guess modifying diet and exercise is doable but would it be significant enough to move the needle?

It’s only been a few weeks since I learned of this but I think the only way to know if I’ve made any changes is to go to private lab and get the test done on my own. Which I will do. As soon as I know where to find such a lab that I can only guess actually exists. I’m going to have to make an appointment to view the unseen, to learn the knowable and do the doable.

Apparently there is such a thing as a home cholesterol test kit but I've never seen them in a Toronto pharmacy.
Update number two: apparently you don't have to pay for private tests, just get 'em from your physician and the reason it's hard to find home cholesterol tests in Canada is they are known to be inaccurate and often don't provide separate HDL and LDL numbers so what's the point?

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