Posts Tagged ‘blood pressure’

The Cholesterol, part 1 (there may not be a part 2)

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009


“Are you taking your Lipitor?” – nurse, as I walked in for my annual physical. I know what that is for, Lipitor. and I have been diagnosed with that ailment before, in my last depraved-living episode. Still, alarm bells did not ring, nor, since they are usually on silent mode, did they vibrate.

“No” I said to her.

“Oh no, did you not get a call from your pharmacy? you should be taking it… anyway, your doctor will be in soon, he’ll talk to you about it…”

She came over to take my blood pressure, saying somewhat apologetically, somewhat soothingly, “you got some NEWS, maybe it will be higher than normal, a little elevated…”

It was 120/60.

The doctor, when he eventually came in, assured me that I should drive to the pharmacy directly from his office, and start taking the medication that same day. There was a threat in his calm that finally began to alarm me. I told him of this episode of bad living that had lasted two years, that I had done everything possible to raise my cholesterol. I had eaten bloody filet mignon, fried chicken – no fried chickens, barbecued everything  – baby back ribs, short ribs, pork, chicken, I had driven rather than walked even the shortest distances, I had smoked many many packs of American Spirits, and, the topper, I had been under lots of stress. Even if it was good stress, it was still stress – a book I had written was out there in the world. I asked that doctor if I could change all that, instead of… but he wouldn’t have any of it. He didn’t believe anyone really changed their lifestyle, their habits. The way he said it, I would die on the way home if I didn’t take the pill.

I picked up my prescription. I put the bottle on the table next to my computer and hit the internet.

I found out a few things: That my numbers were bad, but that they could be a lot worse. That I could take things other than Lipitor, things that would not give me muscle aches or memory loss, or that just plain fear-of-side effects induced side effects. That I wasn’t going to die tomorrow, and probably not the day after. That statins had not shown any positive effect on mortality in women who had not previously had a heart attack or a stroke.

I woke up the next morning and ate a bowl of oats. Raw, like a horse. With raisins. I had a mound of leaves and a can of wild Alaskan salmon for lunch. I drank sterol-fortified orange juice from Minute Maid. I ordered Guggul from Himalaya. I had a glass of red wine as I watched the Thursday night football game.

That was day one. I am still doing many of the things I did on day one. Not as frantically, not with the same manic sense of near-death as day one, but I am still there. And it’s almost the end of week one. I plan to quit smoking on my son’s 13th birthday, which is uncomfortably close. I love my cigarettes, and maybe one day I can smoke a cigarette for the sheer pleasure of it … maybe.

Here are my numbers. I know, I know. They are nasty.

Total Cholesterol – 232, LDL – 170, HDL – 42.

Anyone who thinks I’m going to die in the next day or so, please post your goodbye notes in the comments!