Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Go To the Doctor

Yesterday I mentioned that I had a doctor's appointment over the weekend. No major issues but I've got some things I need to address, like my weight, that are affected by things I'd never have known about with a doctor's help. Here's some of what I've learned from regular doctor visits:

1) CONTROLLING BLOOD SUGAR

After two bouts of gestational diabetes, I knew I would be at pretty high risk for developing Type II diabetes in my lifetime. After injecting myself within insulin five times a day during one of those bouts, I swore to do everything in my power to avoid or delay the onset of this disease.

I honestly can't say I've done everything in my power. That's turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined. Managing diabetes requires constant vigilance to food intake (what I eat and how much) as well as regular exercise.

I've done okay on the what I eat, not so great on the how much, and terribly on the exercise until recently. I'm definitely making strides now on all three fronts.

My doctor has me do blood tests every three months to measure my A1c level. The best description I've heard of this test is that it's like a batting average for blood sugar. It reflects the average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months. So one good day or one really bad day doesn't affect the result.

From this, I know that I'm in the prediabetic range. Not quite there but I need to be alert and take dietary precautions. I also know, from those earlier bouts, that I have to eat protein the morning and have a small protein snack before bedtime.

But on Saturday, the doctor also told me to switch my lunch and dinner. For lunch, I typically eat a salad and some type of protein. If I have any carbs, it's usually with dinner. She told me I should get my carbs earlier in the day, which will help with controlling the blood sugar as well as weight loss.

2) IRON DEFICIENCY

Back in January, I was tired and sluggish all the time, no matter how much sleep I got. I tried to donate blood at work and they refused me, telling me that my iron count was so low, it didn't register on the meter.

A doctor visit and another blood test confirmed this. I now take daily iron supplements. In the first three months, I was less than consistent and there was no change. The doctor threatened me with iron injections.

Say "needles" and you get my attention!

As soon as I got consistent, I felt a change in my energy levels, even before I started exercising in earnest. In the last three months, my iron levels have doubled and my energy level has skyrocketed. With that, I'm less cranky, more patient, and I hope, more fun. I'm more inclined to go outside with my family and do something active than lounge around because I'm too tired to imagine moving.

3) B12 DEFICIENCY

My newest discovery, this past Saturday, is that I'm also deficient in vitamin B-12. This was masked in part by my iron deficiency but now that the iron levels are up, the B-12 levels are glaring. My count is less than half of what it should be for an adult woman. To make matters worse, B-12 regulates the...metabolism! So I'm trying to lose weight and getting no where in part due to my extremely low B-12 level.

Got a booster injection and now will take daily supplements of this nutrient as well. If my levels aren't up significantly in a month, I'll have to start regular injections. The doctor says she suspects that once my B-12 level starts to rise, as I continue exercising and working on my diet, I should start to see the weight come off a bit faster.

Hoo-ray!!!

Of course, once the B-12 level is up, she might find something else. But hey, I'd rather find these things one by one and address them, than not know and beat myself up for working hard and getting nowhere.

Every adult man and woman should get an annual checkup. However, II can tell you that I've had doctors in the past that were not quite as thorough as this lady. So my annual checkups told me nothing. If you're less than satisfied with your doctor, don't forego your exams. Get another doctor!

In addition to getting annual checkups, ask questions. Find out if there is anything detected in your blood work--high cholesterol, low or high blood sugar, vitamin deficiencies, low thyroid, etc.--that you need to be concerned about. Even if you're not in the danger zone now, are you borderline for anything?

The Lesson: Be diligent about your health.

Regular doctor visits, with the right doctor, can make a world of difference to your day to day existence. It has for me.

And anyone trying to lose weight should definitely see a doctor and ask for extensive blood work. In addition to helping you lose weight, it might also help you to live a longer, healthier life.

Peace & Blessings,
Patricia

1 comment:

Chicki said...

Good advice. I'm scheduled for blood work tomorrow at my primary care doc.

Soon I'll be starting a program with a chiropractor to address the all-over pain I have -- fibromyalgia? The first thing she does is put her patients on a two-month detox. Eeek! Surely I'll lose some weight during that time...