Back in December, I went for a much-needed physical. I hadn't gotten one in about three years. I kept delaying it because it was hard to find the time to go. Mostly, I didn't want to deal with the fact that I need to drop some pounds (the only scales we have at home are the ones on Puppy the Fish). When your kids are 8 and 6, you can't really call it baby weight. It's just plain old pudge. Actually, it's fat, but pudge is a nicer word.
I went to a doctor recommended by several moms in my neighborhood. I almost cancelled the appointment because of December insanity, but I forced myself to go. You know how kids get stickers at the doctors' office? I think they need to come up with incentives for adults to get check-ups. Like maybe a nice wine and cheese bar in the reception area. Or a free iPod at every check-up. Bring it on, health care reform!
The doctor and I talked. We agreed I needed to exercise more (I knew that was coming) and also down more veggies and fruit (I am way too carb-centric). She had a nurse draw blood for tests.
Cut to the Thursday before Christmas Eve. The phone rang at around 7. It was the doctor. "I got your blood test results, and I figured I'd call now while I had the time!" she said. Bah, humbug.
She proceeded to tell me that my blood sugar was 106. "That's a little on the high side," she intoned. "It's usually a sign someone is prediabetic."
I asked a rapid-fire bunch of questions: What can you do if you're prediabetic? Change your eating habits and exercise more. But can that head off diabetes? No, she said, "in my experience it can't, maybe for only five percent of patients." What does living with diabetes mean? Regularly checking your blood sugar levels. Maybe insulin injections. We agreed I'd do a follow-up visit in six months.
I came home and immediately hit diabetes.org. I needed to understand more before I told Dave. Most terrifying sentence of all: "Recent research has shown that some long-term damage to the body, especially the heart and ciruclatory system, may already be occurring during prediabetes."
Dave was utterly freaked out. I vowed to reform my ways. Then we went on vacation, not exactly a great time to kick off a better eating regimen. In the last few weeks, though, I've been watching what I down and squeezing in as much walking as I can (the most realistic form of exercise for me right now). And regularly thinking, I'm going to get diabetes.
Today, I called the doctor's office to ask why I hadn't gotten copies of the blood test and the written letter I'd requested about her findings. And suddenly, it occurred to me that I'd better make sure the doctor knew I hadn't been fasting when I took the blood tests. Since nobody had called to tell me to fast before the appointment, I'd figured it wasn't required. Hmmm.
I got the doctor on the phone.
Me: "What we discussed about my being prediabetic has been on my mind a lot. I just wanted to verify that you knew I wasn't fasting when I took the blood test."
Doctor: "Let me check the chart."
Ten second pause.
Doctor: "No, it looks like I didn't know. Your sugar level is normal for someone who wasn't fasting."
Me, talking very slowly: "OK, just so I'm clear, I'm not showing any signs of diabetes?"
Doctor: "No. That sugar level is normal for someone who wasn't fasting."
She went on to apologize. Someone in her office should have called to tell me to fast. The nurse taking the blood should have asked if I'd fasted. She herself should have questioned me on it.
"I know this is your first time visiting, and I hope you don't get the wrong impression of my office," she said.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And furthermore, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But I was too relieved to get worked up over the mistake. I don't have prediabetes. I do still need to work on the healthier lifestyle thing. Maybe there's some cosmic reason I got this scare.
I'm telling you this because I think it's a reminder to question doctors' findings, whether it concerns you or your child. I'm all over that when it comes to Max. From his first days in the NICU, I have never taken doctors' words for granted. I have asked incessant questions. I have grilled them mercilessly. I have emailed, called, called again, researched things on my own, called yet again.
Clearly, I have to take better charge of my own health. Because I need to be around for my kids for a long, long time.