Hi gang! I’m off to Atlanta this weekend to enjoy a foodie seminar put on by Food Blog Forum. If you think you cannot live without me, you can follow my adventures via Twitter. I’ll try and tweet when I get a chance!
While I’m out drinking, eating, and socializing, learning how to better improve my blog and recipes, I have some awesome guest posts lined up for you! Today’s post is from a Twitter friend of mine, Bob!
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I didn’t go to medical school. I have access to the Internet.
In the last 10 years going to a doctor has become less of a treatment facility or counsel place and more like getting fast-food style prescriptions. Doctors have to see a lot of patients to pay the bills. As a result, they can’t be relied on for knowing, remembering, or managing you or your families personal health. Even the best doctors are limited in their time and resources. We the patients have to become experts on ourselves and what is going on.
I go to the doctor fairly regularly. Partially due to medicine refill limits set by my insurance company and because my doctor likes to make me take those fasting blood draws. Well not really the second reason, but she orders them every 4 months so I have to see her.
One particular outcome from my blood draws showed that for some reason my cholesterol had gone through the roof! I panicked. She panicked. She then gave me an order of medicine that was stronger than the niacin supplements I had been taking up to that point. This was an eye opener.
Prior to this last test I had been a pack a day smoker and my bad cholesterol had been great while the good cholesterol had plummeted. If the only real change was smoking, why the bad cholesterol increase? This was a question that my doctor and I had discussed in great detail, but given the 30-40 minutes we had the question remained unanswered. If it was going to be answered it was going to have to be done by me. So I got online.
I started looking at the question. What could cause triglycerides and LDL cholesterol dramatically increase. I found some things. Then I asked google a different question. What can negatively impact your cholesterol? Few more answers. This process continued until I had compiled enough to understand cholesterol better. Then I looked at what had happened.
My doctor doesn’t know my diet, social calendar, sleep patterns, or exercise schedule. She sees the results. So deciphering my life activities in relation to that result is really up to me. And low and behold I found it. Just 5 days prior to my blood work I attended a bachelor party where heavy drinking was involved. Large amounts of alcohol can greatly effect cholesterol levels for up to a week depending on the journal or site you go to.
To prove my theory I went back just 3 months later and made sure no excessive alcohol was consumed 2 weeks prior. It was back to the level of the test prior to the last one. When I told my doctor this she was amazed. She didn’t know there was that much of impact. Then I told her what I found about alcohol affecting cholesterol levels and my consumption prior to the last test. Light bulb’s all around.
Since this visit I have started asking questions about all different aspects of my health. Medicines I take, injuries, diet, etc. So now when I see my doctor I come with the problem, and potential solutions that we discuss together. She knows I’m not going to give up eating red meat. So I gave up smoking and started to exercise again.
She pointed out that my weight had been fluctuating a lot and so I took that and started to track my diet with a journal on my phone. Now I can tell her why. I’ve also found that I was consuming 1000 calories a day in junk food. I cut out the junk food and I miraculously lost 15 pounds in just a few weeks.
Few points I’ve tried to incorporate in my researching.
- Use credited and referenced sites. Webmd.com, e-drugs.com. Wikipedia is good but it’s user contributed so I don’t take it for gospel. It can help putting medical journals into layman terms.
- You should always discuss changes to medications and lifestyle with your doctor. Even if it’s by email. Let them know what’s going on.
- Keep records of change. A journal in any form is invaluable. Pen and paper, smartphone app, online app. Record side effects as well and you’ll be better off.
- If you have negative side effects go to the doctor or emergency room immediately. I had a doctor misdiagnose me and the medicine he gave me nearly killed me. We’ll save that for another story.
- Limit changes to one at a time. It makes it easier to identify specific results, good or bad.
In the end we have to be responsible for our health, mentally and physically. The doctors can help us but it’s not their life.
Thanks Bob! We do need to be in charge of our own health because no one is looking out for you other than YOU! You are your greatest advocate!