I’m not a big fan of failure, especially my own. I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever-the kid who does a little more and tries a little harder and gives a little more. So when I put forth my best effort to improve something and the results are “terrible”, that does not make me happy!
“Terrible” is the precise medical term used by my doctor yesterday to explain the results of my cholesterol test. Yes, after three months of a basically vegetarian diet, my cholesterol is still off the charts. Yes, I included a little 1% milk, cheese, fake eggs, and an occasional fish dinner in my diet, but I am after all, deficient in calcium and also need a little B12. I don’t think a vegan diet is in my future.
I even passed up a wonderful Cinco de Mayo potluck at school because I was scheduled for lab tests the next day. Didn’t even eat a single corn chip because I was afraid the extra salt might throw off the results of some test. All for naught.
So now I’m learning more than I ever wanted to know about familial hypercholesterolemia. That’s just a fancy word for “you got the bad genes and now you are stuck with controlling what they do”. This should not come as a surprise to anyone even vaguely familiar with our family. We are the poster family for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attacks. But a close examination of the people in our family who have not reached a ripe old age will reveal other contributing factors such as poor diet and even poorer lifestyle choices. I’ve already arranged the cake for my 90th birthday party so I plan to continue to take care of my health, even though there are clearly some genetic problems that are not my fault, nor within my control.
The obvious question is “should I continue a meatless diet?” Without a doubt! Just do the math- my liver is already creating more cholesterol than my body can handle. Why feed it more and then have to take even more medication in order to get rid of it? And there is a very selfish reason to continue- I just feel better! I feel less bloated, sluggish, tired. I have lost a few pounds. Cooking vegetables is so much easier.
Of course the challenge of the moment is to find a medication that I can tolerate. The previous one, which undoubtedly was controlling my cholesterol, was also causing me so much muscle pain after five years, that I could no longer sleep through the night. A week off of it and I felt like a new person. Three months now without that pain and I refuse to endure it again. So I am trying a new med and hopefully it will be a success. I’ll let you know in two months. (You know you are old when you have to start going to the doctor every few months!)
I tell you all of this as a warning: be sure you are getting your annual physical even if you don’t feel sick. There are lots of conditions that are harmful to us that don’t produce noticeable symptoms. We need those lab numbers to know what our bodies are doing!
Have a healthy day!