Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Health Test Results

Today I received the results of the first round of regular health check tests which I mentioned in the previous post. All of my results were within the range of "normal" except for one. That one was, quite predictably, my BMI which is 30.9%.

Personally, I'm not especially bothered that this number is highlighted in red to indicate that it is a problem because I planned to lose more weight anyway. However, I can't help but feel that the HAES (health at every size) movement would take issue with this. If all of my results are okay, why is weight even being tagged as an issue?

What I realize is that this isn't about any sort of personal choice on the part of the health care provider to point at my weight and say, "bad girl!". This is about bureaucracy and a system which looks only at numbers and reaches conclusions. With this type of health care, I'm essentially being judged by a machine rather than by human judgment. The machine prints out a report and if the range of numbers is outside of certain parameters, it prints it in red. If the number is high, it spits out particular advice. If the number is low, it spits out different advice.

When I learned the results, I was not overjoyed or proud or whatever. I know some of the results could likely be better in the abstract (though there is nothing "wrong" with them now). For instance, my fasting blood sugar is 94. That is on the higher end of "normal", but is nonetheless normal. This number isn't on the high side of normal because I'm overeating or eating poorly. It's where it is because I haven't been sleeping well due to knee pain and my stress levels over the past 6 months have gotten higher and higher (due to taking on a new job and various other issues such as living close to a crisis zone). Insulin is affected by these factors in addition to diet.

The bottom line is that there are things I can do which would favorably impact these statistics and things I can't do. I can't instantly cure my knee, and, in fact, my efforts to date to improve it with self-prescribed physical therapy (exercise, bending, baths) have only made it worse and I'm abandoning that line. Right now, the pain gets better if I do nothing rather than do something. If I can't fix my pain, I can't fix my sleep problems.

The other thing which I think would improve my health is engaging in more vigorous exercise. While I walk and lift weights 5-7 times a week, I can't do strenuous aerobic exercise due to my physical fragility. Mainly, this is due to my knee, which barely tolerates the walking I do everyday. My back is generally better, but if I push it too far too fast, I will pay for it. Even now, I'm having some pain from various stretching exercises which create strain on my back. I can't change the fact that I'm unable to do more challenging exercise due to physical pain and damage.

My main concern about the numbers I was going to receive was that they would be poor and I'd feel that I was already doing almost everything I possibly could to have better health. I eat exceptionally well from a nutritional balance viewpoint. Sure, I eat a few treats a day, but I think only a nut job who derives all of his or her self-esteem and a sense of moral superiority from something as trivial as food choices would believe that a few bites of something sweet a day make a huge health difference. There's no way the equivalent of eating 3-5 Hershey's Kisses per day is going to have an appreciable impact on my health when my calories are kept consistently within a range of 1500-2000 the vast majority of the time and I eat a very good balance of nutritious food.

The tests I took validated my sense that I'm generally pretty healthy now, but I had an odd sense of foreboding even getting them because I know that a person can do everything right and still fail. Health is not something you can attain merely by connecting all of the proper dots. You can increase your chances, sure, but there are no guarantees. Each person works with particular predispositions. I'm genetically lucky in some ways since my body fat is hanging off of my behind and belly instead of collecting around my organs and in areas which tend to contribute to Type 2 diabetes. There are people at my weight or lower who have more problems, not because they are making poor choices, but because their body reacts differently.

At the moment, I'm still in limbo on the thyroid concerns that I mentioned in the previous post. I wasn't permitted to make an appointment for a test until after this first round of test results arrived. I still believe this is a precaution, but a seed has certainly been planted that I have cause for concern. I'd like to dig that seed up and throw it away before it grows any further, but I can't do that until I have another test.

Beyond the thyroid test, I've still got to have a pap test and mammogram. These are other tests that I've avoided for years because of humiliating and degrading experiences due to my weight. Last time I attempted to have such a test, the doctor put me on an electronically elevated table which would not move up due to my weight and angrily asked me how much I weighed and reacted with great and overt disgust that she had to move me to an old fashioned table to conduct the exam. Since then, I haven't gone back. Of course, I know that if I don't take such tests, I'm the one who will pay the price, but I couldn't bear to face it again after that.

Even at my current weight (around 185), I approach all medical experiences with trepidation. I am going to have all of the tests that I should have done completed despite my fears and anxiety. I'm scheduled to get the pap test and mammogram as soon as possible (around mid-October). I'm saddened that it took extreme weight loss to work up the courage to do what normal people do to maintain health and I'm angry that negative experiences made me avoid them for so long. As I've mentioned before, I often wonder if the higher mortality rate among obese individuals is related to not seeking regular health care due to the shoddy treatment they receive rather than obesity-related illness. If you don't go until something is seriously wrong, it is likely too late to deal with the issue.

For now though, I'm satisfied that I'm okay on the fronts which have been measured and relieved that doing everything I reasonably can just so happens to be "enough" for all of the machines to say I'm healthy.


Jan said...


Just popping in to read your blog, so sorry I have not replied to your email, I intend to, as there were some great points I wish to discuss.
I am glad the tests were normal and i hope you get the thyroid one soon. I am the same as you with the pap and mammogram tests. I live in terror that I will get some life ending disease, well apart from what I already have.

Chat soon,


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