The twelve-year battle is over.
A couple of days ago I went to the doctor to get my sinuses checked out. I had a runny nose last week, and my nose was leaking clear fluid all the time. It was ridiculous. I wouldn’t have tissues on me and I would be sniffing on the train because I had no control over my nose; the fluid would just literally drip out. I also generally have this problem in winter with nosebleeds. Sudden changes in weather — going from a moderately cold temperature inside, to a much colder temperature outside, and maybe walking onto a slightly warm bus — drives my nose crazy and sometimes I get nosebleeds.
It’s quite funny when I experience them. I will wipe my nose dry, or blow it a little, and then a few minutes later it will go runny again, but nope, it’s actually blood just dripping out. Once I was on my way to a job interview, and I was sitting in the car thinking about how cold it was, and suddenly I felt my nose run so I sniffed a bit, but my nose let loose and blood just poured out of my nose. 😆
A few days ago the area around my jaw started to ache, and I felt pain behind my nose. In turn it gave me a headache on the right side of my face, and the next day my whole head hurt and I got a few dizzy spells. It turns out my sinuses just need a bit of care, and painkillers should do the trick for a few days, so it is nothing serious.
Another reason I went to see the doctor was because of my high blood cholesterol. My last blood test was mainly a test to check that I didn’t have a stomach ulcer or something that was causing my digestive system to not digest food. Naturally, my cholesterol was also checked, as were my iron and sugar levels.
I generally don’t go to the same doctor all the time because my main doctor is now rarely available, and has a lot of patients. When I say a lot, I mean, every morning I have to wait three hours for her just to get through her patients who have appointments booked. Then I have to wait for the people who have come in without appointments. It’s just irritating. A lot of people who visit her are the elderly, and tend to take a while seeing her… I think I’ve just given up on her really, because it’s impossible to see her when everyone else in the town likes her and wants to see her. I saw another doctor, a male doctor, about this digestive issue, and while he is nice, I haven’t seen him often. He’s getting quite old and forgetful, so when he saw that my blood test results showed my cholesterol was still high, he told me straight away to take medication for it.
For those who don’t know, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol when I was ten years old. That was in 2001. Twelve years ago. My dad had been diagnosed, and his cholesterol levels were extremely high. From then on, my mother made every effort to pull all the junk food from our pantry: cookies, candy, chocolate, chips, biscuits. She made sure I ate fruit every day, and while every other kid ate pies and chips, I would have salad sandwiches and a banana. Maybe it was different and I felt it was unfair I didn’t get tasty food, but I love my mum for that. I love her for taking the necessary steps to make me a healthy kid. Granted, she did make sure I ate healthily way before I was ten years old, but she still put in that effort after the diagnosis. I put it down to the then-recent indulge in Mars bars, punishing myself with a simple “oops”. I didn’t know much about cholesterol at the time, but the level was at 8.5, or at least 8. The recommendation is 5.5 or lower.
I was a dancer, and I did ballet, tap and jazz dance throughout my childhood and high school years. I struggled with my body image, and was still so confused as to why I could be so unlucky to have high cholesterol. It gave me the impression that I was fat, and I refused to eat for some time, or skipped meals, or ate very tiny amounts, but I was really very light, and I was skinny. It didn’t make sense to me.
I saw other doctors once I got older, who said I needed to try harder to lower my cholesterol, and that being skinny didn’t mean I was healthy. Okay, so I was unhealthy, despite how well my mum fed me. I asked why this couldn’t be considered genetic, for my dad has it, and so did my grandparents — who also had heart disease/s, and every doctor I saw told me that it wasn’t. My dad’s cardiologist at the time said my genes could only contribute 10% to my high cholesterol. They still kept telling me what to eat and what not to eat, and told me it could be fixed myself with diet and exercise.
Once I was in my late teens I questioned it. I also started to avoid regular blood tests because I was scared they would keep threatening to put me on medication once they saw that I could not lower my cholesterol with diet. I was scared because they gave me the impression I had to take it forever, for the rest of my life, until I died. I was literally asking, what the fuck. Why am I eating vegetables all day and nothing is happening. Why am I dancing three times a week, walking to school, eating so much fruit, and nothing is happening, I just have fucked up fat in my arteries?
I ignored it for a while, because it made me depressed. A couple of years ago, I got very upset about it. I tried everything, went gluten-free, eradicated foods from my diet, and now I don’t eat land meat (though that was also a personal choice, not just to do with diet). I ran in the mornings, I ran half-marathons distances, walked to the train station, walked everywhere and ran when I could. So when the male doctor told me to take medication I burst into tears and I spoke to my mum. I was very upset. I told her I had given up and it was not fair. I told her I could not stand it, and the fact that people had bullied me for being skinny and made fun of me, and laughed when I told them I had high blood cholesterol really hurt me.
We decided to visit another doctor who we had seen occasionally and who would be able to give a proper solution. My original doctor was not going to be available any time soon. So this doctor, I hadn’t liked very much because she always seemed stern. I noticed this time, in her office, that there were pretty flower paintings on the wall that I immediately noticed were hers. My mum and I were waiting for the doctor to get my files and come in. I told my mum they must be painted by her because her name was signed in the corners.
My mum asked her when she walked in, and she said, “I’ll show you something.” She opened her desk drawer and pulled out two books. They were books she had published, with poems she had written, and filled with paintings that she had painted.
She told us the story of how she was young, her older sisters were very good at art, got noticed for their art, and that she didn’t have a talent that she enjoyed or that people noticed her for. She said that in grade five, she had made all her sisters do her art homework, and she would do their science homework in return. After all that, the teacher said her work was the best in the class, and one day invited the whole class outside to paint their work outside. and she said “oh I was in trouble” but then she realised she was lucky, because they were around nature, and she was good at painting nature.
She got into a competition where she had to sit out on the street and paint. She was on the beach, around where people were swimming, with tons of people, and she just couldn’t do it, and she couldn’t draw people.
She said from that day, she stopped painting. “No one ever told me that I had a talent for painting nature, that I could paint what I wanted, and ignore everything around me.”
Then five years ago, she wanted to do something, as a hobby, so she went back to it. All those years she didn’t paint and write poems, these ideas had accumulated hugely, and inspired her to do amazing things again.
“This isn’t just for me, it’s for everyone. You might think you can’t do something, or you are never going to be good at it, and you can never do it, but you should just try.”
It was a really touching story.
Anyway, with that aside, I told her that I just wanted to know what the hell to do. My mum asked how much my genes could possibly have contributed to my cholesterol.
“With you? One hundred percent.”
She could have said one hundred and one, I would have died.
“You’re young. You’re skinny — you’re like a model. When you were first diagnosed you were young, and you were healthy. Look at your blood tests now, you’re healthy. You have tried to diet, your good cholesterol levels are in the good range, you eat well. It’s nothing to do with what you eat. You eat fine. Your father and your grandparents had it, it is in your genes. And you can’t get rid of something that is already there. Your arteries can be blocked with fat, but you’ve dieted, exercised, eat well, it’s just ‘dirty’. That’s what it is.”
Looking at the medication I got but didn’t take, she said, yes, that it was a good idea we came back to get a proper solution, because she wouldn’t start someone on 10mg. She said she would start me on 5mg. She gave me 35 tablets that she had in the office, and I now take one a day.
“You don’t have to take it forever. It’s not a permanent problem. It can be fixed.”
The twelve-year battle is over.
I have disliked doctors for their huge egos and inability to solve my health issues. But, I wish someone could have told me this earlier. I could cry from happiness.