Monday, December 30, 2013

My Public Service Announcement/New Year's Resolution

I come from a family of doctors, so every time I go to the doctor, I know what to look for and what to ask for. But, I think as I get older and more "issues" are starting, I wanted to share with you my experiences of late and what I am doing now to be more proactive. Yes, I am going to sound a little like Dr. Oz, but here is the thing, this is a doctor that I see every two years, if I am lucky, and she doesn't really "know me," so really it is up to ME to know these things. Don't even get me started on health insurance companies.

The reason this is coming up now is that I had my blood pressure checked a few weeks ago and it was very high and I panicked of course, and then I asked my family what was up and they immediately said, "Drop 5 pounds and cut out the salt." Then I remembered my salty lunch- roasted broccoli with olives. So, when I was visiting my family last week, I had my brother doctor check it again and it was normal. By the way, it is easier to cut out the salt!

The first thing I would say is that it important to know your numbers.  I have a folder with all of my lab results so I can compare from one year to the next and see what is different. Yup, cholesterol is slowly going up. When you go to the doctor, make sure you bring these numbers, or at least be familiar with them, so you can tell immediately what is right for you. My doctor took my blood pressure three times because I kept saying that this wasn't my normal. She may have done this on her own, but why risk it.

The other thing you must know is your family health history. Most of the questions that my doctor asked me pertained to my family's health history. The guidelines are changing and if you are borderline in some tests, but have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure for example, that makes a big difference in treatment.

Also, this may seem very obvious, but if you have questions, write them down and bring them to your visit. I tend to get flustered and anxious to leave, so I could easily get home and realize that I didn't voice any of my concerns.

The last thing is to not be afraid to be a pain in the you know what or find another doctor. When I had bloodwork two years ago, my cholesterol was borderline. I received a lovely note from the doctor's office advising me to exercise more and eat a healthy diet. Hello? Do you even know me? Apparently not, since I was already doing these things. After discussing this with my brother, he told me that his numbers were worse than mine (and he is younger than me), which I did not know, and that my father has even worse numbers. So, all of that combined made a big difference in my treatment.

So, as far as New Year's resolutions go, I'm sure we all have the healthy eating, exercising more, lose 5 lbs, blah blah blah, goals. I think being familiar with your own health history and learning to be an advocate for yourself is my number one resolution. What do you think? You deserve it right? Join me!