Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I have a medical crush on my internist. She's the best kind of doctor. She practices the best kind of medicine.

May brought me the obligation of scheduling my annual physical. And though I'm devoted to routine medical care, I kept circumventing a call to her office. For I knew there would be blood.

The anti-depressant I take is metabolized by the liver. So my doctor, being the superstar that she is, mandates that I have my blood drawn annually to verify that my super dose of Sane isn't having a negative effect on my liver. That kind of vigilant medicine confirms to me that I've picked a stellar doc. Yet all my faith in her and dedication to health doesn't mean that I'm revved up for my annual interview with a vampire.

Nevertheless, I eventually made my appointment.

In the patient room, once my weight had been taken, blood pressure noted, and pulse entered into my chart, I perched on the exam table and answered my doctor's routine questions.

What supplements are you taking these days? she asked.

I rattled off the names of the handful of pills I habitually cram in my mouth every day. Stuff like Calcium, Vitamin D, Folic Acid (oh calm down, it serves more than just the pregnancy purpose), B12, Iron, Glucosamine, a Flinstone vitamin some days, a grown-up multi-pack other days, and on. Once I'd finished my list, accompanied by the doses I take, I stopped, Hey, wait a minute--do I even need to take all this crap? 'Cause if I don't have to, I'd rather not.

Well, let's find out, she said. Go off of everything aside from your antidepressant for a month and at the end of the month we'll send you for blood work to see what's necessary and what isn't. Throughout the month, if you have any symptoms, note them.

Not only was I game because it was a very attentive and essentially brilliant notion, bein' as it's darn good medical practice, but I've been wanting to make sure that I'm being a responsible vegetarian and getting everything I need. Some vegetarians can get lazy and ignore things like beans, whole soy and dark greens; for the most part, that's not me, but one can never be sure how good they are at anything until it's verified.

(Frankly, responsible vegetarians often maintain more protein-rich diets than do omnivores; the rumor that vegetarians have a tough time getting protein is a dirty one. I'm not the kind of person that's going to take going meatless truly seriously unless I've done enough research to know that for me it's smart, safe, viable, reasonable, and interesting. (Do know that this isn't me trying to convince you to drop the drumstick--I wouldn't do that; it's me merely clarifying my line.))

One month passes sans supplementation. Then a tearless trip to the phlebotomist (wherein the vampire siphoned eight vials out me, an indication to you of just how mant tests my attentive doc ordered). And a week later, back to my internist's office without a list of lurking symptoms.

The result of this experiment: I am absolutely healthy. No danger areas. No nearing Insufficient. In fact, all things necessary for good health now and great health in the future are in the higher part of the ideal range. The only supplementation I need to restart is Calcium. And not because my blood shows a deficiency, but rather as prevention because I'm the poster child for future osteoporosis. (I used to pedal an osteoporosis medication so this is something I know a little bit about; of the risk factors I have 3 of the most significant. Careful prevention's essential or I'll become a part of the clan of incredible shrinking women.)

No doctor, I'm not lacking iron. No other doctor, I don't even come close to having a Vitamin D deficiency. Instead, I'm a portrait of health.


rabidrunner said...

That's a great idea - to have your blood check after not taking supplements. Spouse says that all of my supplementation is giving me nothing but expensive urine. He might be right.

Julie said...

Congrats on the healthy blood.

Also...completely unrelated....your sister taught my sister how to do hair. She saw me reading your blog and said, "That girl looks just like one of my old instructors," and whatdoyaknow...she is.

Unknown said...

Rabid, don’t knock the value of highly supplemented urine. Perhaps there’s a business opportunity in selling the stuff. Here are just a few of the practical uses for the golden stream:

Perhaps you could even package it as a specialty ORGANIC product. Just think of the shelf space you could command at Whole Foods with your exclusive Splash of Rabid.

It seems so wasteful to flush such a valuable natural resource-- “what with the economy and all” ( said...

I was a vegetarian for 5 years (several years ago) and though I'd be hard pressed to give up a steak nowadays or a soup made with beef base- I have to say; NEVER before (or since) have I eaten as well as I did then. It forces you to note what you consume and make sure you're balanced. It makes you conscious of your diet rather than just shoving in crap.

Jessica said...

um, this is probably a silly question, but what's the difference between an internist and just a regular general practitioner? is it the same thing? (can you tell i haven't had a non-girly check-up in a really long time?)

Megan said...

This is an awfully lay differentiaton, but as best I can explain it, an FP (sometimes called a GP, though they are a little different and are an outdated specialty) is a doctor for the whole family, including kids and pregnant ladies (they can deliver babies), and an Internist is a doctor with additional specialized training pertaining to only adults. They tend to refer out more; for example they won't deliver your baby--they'll send you to an OB/GYN. I choose an internist because I like specialized care. She is my primary doc, so I can see her when I'm sick, but when it comes to serious issues, she will send me to another specialist, whereas an FP is often more inclined to try to take care of issues themselves.

P.S. Everyone: Vanderpoolred is my husband. We can't just let him hide out under a pseudonym stolen from some obscure apple variety. (Apple--get it? We are such Apple freaks that he chose to name his online identity after an apple variety in honor of his love for the Mac fruit.)

Jessica said...

thanks for the clarification. i need to pick a doc with our new insurance so any help i can get is much needed. thanks again!

rabidrunner said...

Vanderpoolred, huh? Very clever. As if I should anything but clever from you two...

I went to PurpleStinky to see the many uses for urine. I think I'm partial to #5 and will let a gallon or two of my pricey urine sit for year so as to make munitions for bullets.

(It's too bad the Mac people had to choose the apple and not the tomato. Then Vanderpoolred could be "Roma". Fits fer some reason, not sure why... I'll write Mr. Jobs a letter. I'm sure he still has a say here and there.)