Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Drop Your Shorts, Bend Over and Cough

I have never had good professional relationships with doctors.

When I was a kid, that annual checkup was a month-long feared event. I wasn't afraid of needles or being poked and prodded -- it was that aweful SCALE! That would be the one day of the year that my mom would know my weight. One year I even pretened to be sick so I wouldn't have to go. (That was pretty smart, huh?) Inevitably, it would result in the annual "you need to lose weight" discussion that never failed to end in tears.

As an adult, once I could control my doctor visits, I just didn't go. Once I got married, my wife encouraged me to find a doctor and go for a physical. I found Dr. G in a nearby town and visited for a physical. It was really a joke -- 10 minutes: scale, blood work, bp, some other prodding and poking, no big deal. I think he said "you really outta lose some weight." I said "I know" and that was that. Dr. G was not exactly "involved" in my care. For 10 years, he was really just diagnosing simple illensses and collecting his fee. His office was almost like a clinic, they churned so many patients. I never looked around, though. It was really all I cared for at that point.

In the mean time, Deb had found a doctor that a friend recommend earlier in 2006. She LOVED Dr. H. She spent time with her on her visits and didn't rush her out the door. Deb had encouraged me to get to a doctor for a check up as I was beginning my new lifestyle endeavor. She didn't want me keeling over from exercise rigors. She suggested that I try Dr. H, provided I didn't have any problem seeing a woman doctor. As long as she didn't have a problem seeing me, in all my glory, what the heck.

I first visited Dr. H in late August, 2006 for a full check up. I was already down 29 lbs. and feeling pretty good about the way things were going. Of course, the first stop was the dreaded scale. Dr. H has one of those "old" style balance-type scales. Right there in front of me read: Max. Weight 350. Uh oh! Having weighed in at home that morning, I then provided the nurse my weight of 388.

Dr. H talked to me about my history, my weight loss, my goals, my exercise, my drugs, my BP. Pretty much a full physical, the way it ought to be. (Oh yeah, since I was now over 40, she also did the dreaded "drop your shorts, bend over and cough" exam. If she was still willing to see me as a patient after that, she had to be a keeper. ) She spent probably 20 plus minutes with me. She seemed to really care. She was genuine.

She ordered some blood work and referred me to a cardiologist for a heart checkup.

After a couple of days, she called with the blood work results. All of my numbers were in the normal range execpt HDL (Good) Cholesterol. That was 26, where it should be over 39. Keep on exercising and dieting and it will move in the right direction.

In December, I saw a cardiologist for the first time. Dr. M. At that point I was down about 90 lbs. The treadmill test went well and he reduced my bp meds by 1 level.

Dr. H had asked me to follow up after the cardo visit. I finally got around to that in April. She had also ordered up some new blood work to compare to August.

The results were pretty amazing. Down about 120 lbs total at that point, every measurement was positive. Though HDL was still a bit low, it was close to the target. BP was 119/79 so I asked her about my bp meds -- she reduced the dose by half and said we could review again in a month or two to see about eliminatating. WOO HOO!

Dr H. has been a contributing force to my ongoing success. She has been a positive influence in acheiving my goals through her easy manner and kind, caring attitude. She is what a doctor is SUPPOSED to be. (I know so many people who wouldn't recommend their doctors. Where have all the good ones gone?) Before I left that day, she told me she's been telling everyone about me. She said "I know I'm not supposed to do this, but can I give you a hug?" Yes, Dr. H, any time!

My advice to all: go out there and find a GREAT doctor. They're diamonds in the rough, but well worth the hunt!


1 comment:

Kim Ellis said...

What an amazing story you have! Now I don't even remember how I found your blog but I'm sure glad that I have. My husband and I are on a similar journey and my sport of choice is triathlon. It certainly makes the working out easier and I feel more motivated when I'm working towards a goal.

Keep up the good work - I'm looking forward to sharing your blog with my husband.

And I say a huge AMEN to finding the right doctor. I have two different doctors and I love them both. They actually remember me from visit to visit and that makes me feel valued. A different concept in today's medical world.

I look forward to your next post.