Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doctors and Dentists: Nag, nag, nag!

Okay, so I know that it's a health professionals job to make us patients as healthy as possible, promoting all the things we could do better. But seriously, it sometimes feels like all there is is a series of things you HAVE to do to be healthy, and your only reward for doing each one is moving onto the next one.

First, I had my teeth cleaned at the dentist. It had been 9 months rather than 6 since my last visit, mostly because making appointments gets complicated when working retail with about two weeks notice of my schedule. So I guess my teeth were filthy. But anyway, I've been flossing every day for the past few years after being guilted into it by my dental hygienist and the fear that congenital gum disease might strike me down.

The problem is, apparently just flossing isn't enough, because she doesn't always believe me. As she was cleaning my teeth, she told me, in the nicest way possible, that since I was a writer, I should write down to floss everyday. I said that I do, but I guess not hard enough. So she told me to make sure to catch the back teeth. Seriously, though? It's annoying to floss your teeth every single night, no matter how late it is or how tired you are. To hear that despite improving your habits, there's little difference made, that's pretty freaking discouraging. However, I'm still flossing.

Then later this week I had a doctor's visit. I went into it feeling pretty good, ready to show off my continued weight loss. And things did go well. For the one day. The next morning, I got a voicemail about my blood work. Apparently my cholesterol is high, so I've been instructed to start taking fish oil supplements to bring it down.

Aside from being downright unappetizing (belches that taste like fish are apparently the most common side-effect), fish oil has calories. With the dosage they gave me (the maximum recommended, by the by), it could be up to 100 calories a day in pill form. Now, I just cut my calorie intake by more than half over the past year or so, I'm not about to make further cuts to make room for another pill based on one blood test that I didn't even fast for (which you normally do).

After a little mental and emotional breakdown, I got my physician's assistant to call me back, negotiated a lower dosage, and sullenly agreed to add another pill to pop nightly. If anyone has any advice on taking fish oil without gross side-effects, give me a shout-out. Also, I then had to decide on an even lower dose because when I got to H-E-B, the capsules all came in dosages that didn't match. Because it's not just about lowering cholesterol, it's also about testing math skills every time you take it.

I know this is a rant, and I'm lucky to be so relatively healthy. But it just seems like, despite all the things I have done to make myself healthy are met with the short term congratulations, and the long term return to that darn list. It feels like you aren't allowed to live at a certain point, in order to extend your lifespan. What comes after flossing with the force of a drill and downing fish oil? Are they going to tell me that knitting is in fact cavity-causing? Or will they forcibly curb my television-watching time? Because you can take my mac and cheese, but I'm not giving up Tim Gunn!

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