Saturday, September 17, 2011

Numbers Game

I got the call from my doctor's office yesterday in reference to my recent physical. Yes, since I became 40, I have done my best to get one every year. Considering that prior to 40 I hadn't had a physical since 7th grade summer camp, I thought it was time.

Not actually my blood. Kinda looks like Kool-Aid!

I always dread this call.  It usually goes something like this…
(Note: formatting may be off if your window is too small)

          Nurse: Hi, this is Trish calling from Dr. Soinso's office with your results.
          Me: Am I dying?
          Nurse: (giggles) No, Mr. JimNotMike, you're fine. Liver, kidneys, heart,
          all in perfect shape. (Which in and of itself is quite a feat considering how much
          I drink and smoke)
          Me: But?
          Nurse: (awkward pause) But, the Doctor is concerned about your Cholesterol
          and Tri-glyceride levels.
          Me: Let me guess…too high?
          Nurse: Yes, very

At this point I usually sigh heavily and retrieve the sheet that I keep my previous levels noted on. I should also note that The Hubby was in the room during this call and by the end of it he was getting quite a chuckle out of it. He gets a kick out of how I handle folks on the phone. (You should hear me with Verizon or any other service provider)

          Me: (returning with sheet) Ok, let me have em!
          Nurse: Your Cholesterol is dangerously high at 228 and your Tri-gly (my abbrev)
          is off the charts at 336.
          Me: So I am dying?
          Nurse: No, Mr. JimNotMike, but these levels are very concerning and the Doctor
          wants to get you on medications immediately.
          Me: Does he now?
          Nurse: Yes, he can call prescriptions into your pharmacy of choice today.
          Me: Yes, I'm sure he can, but I won't be going on any medication.
          Nurse: Mr. JimNotMike, perhaps you aren't understanding the seriousness of
          these levels.
          Me: Dear, dear Trish…I understand completely. But- (and now it's it my turn to "But")
          you know me well enough, after all the gallons of blood you have pumped from
          my arm, to know very well that I will not be going onto any daily medications.
          Heck! I finally just got myself off the darn Coumadin from The Blood Clot Incident.
          I'm not going on another pill.
          Nurse: I understand that, Mr. JimNotMike, but the doctor…
          Me: (interrupting) The Doctor obviously took no time to look at the levels from my
          previous physical. If he had and if you flip back a few pages in that chart, you will
          realize that these levels are drastically lower than the ones from my past physical.
          Nurse: (rustling pages) Why yes, Mr. JimNotMike, I see that these levels are better.
          Me: Yes, by quite a bit. My Cholesterol is down 30 points and my Tri-gly is cut in
          half…yes, HALF!
          Nurse: I see that.
          Me: Yes, and so do I! So, I will not be going on any medications at the moment.
          Nurse: I see that.
          Me: You inform the Doctor that he is welcome to test me again in 6 months or a
          year, and if these levels haven't continued to improve or have gone up, that I
          will be more than happy to discuss medication options with him.
          Nurse: I agree, Mr. JimNotMike. Once I show him these past results I'm sure
          he will be fine with that.
          Me: He better be!
          Nurse: Thanks for your time. Have a great weekend.
          Me: You too, Trish. Hope I wasn't too hard on you? (I really didn't)
          Nurse: No more so than usual, Mr. JimNotMike….goodbye.

So, how about that? It was an interesting phone call. A couple of things stood out at me. First, what's the good of getting a physical every year if the doctor isn't going to compare the findings? My need for medication was based solely on this year's "numbers". That kinda thing pisses me off. "Oh, look at that number, get that man on a pill!" Secondly, it was the Pill Push that ticked me off. I have worked enough medical conventions to see how aggressively these pharmaceuticals are marketed to medical professionals. I have seen the perks that they are offered to prescribe said medications. I have seen the seminars devoted to how the limit "numbers" are changed, through even more aggressive political lobbying, so that the medications are needed by more unsuspecting people.

Again, not my blood, or my hand
I don't buy that crap! Perhaps my cholesterol has always run kind of high? Maybe my tri-gly are directly related to how much I drink? Perhaps our Doctors no longer look at the patient, but at the money? Maybe they just want to sell more pills? (Ya think?)

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