Recently, I found myself a primary care doctor in San Antonio, and he began doing various tests and such. Yay needles and blood! Some of the news has been good. I have no autoimmune disorders like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. Still don’t know why I’ve been getting random flares of pain in my joints/lymph nodes, but perhaps it has to do with stress and my terrible psychological state. Hopefully we’ll find answers soon. Still working with them.
Unfortunately, not all the news has been good. Aside from my 45-lb weight gain over the last 9-10 months, most of my other health stats are looking bad, bad, bad. I have cataloged every set of blood test results that I’ve gotten since May 2009, when I was nearly 60 lbs heavier than I currently am and every health measurement was screaming out danger warnings. Below is a number trend from May 2009, from Feb 2012 (-75 lbs), Dec 2014 (-100 lbs, post three months paleo diet), and currently (-60 lbs). Unfortunately, no results from my lowest, healthiest weight (-106 lbs, healthy BMI). Also unfortunately, many of the recent numbers are bad, some almost as bad as at my high weight!
Glucose: Back in 2009, my glucose level was at the very high end of normal, but by Feb 2012, it had gone to the lower end, and stayed there, getting better all the time. Now? Middle of the range. Still normal, but growing. My A1C (the running average, how they determine diabetes/pre-diabetes) was in the pre-diabetic range in 2009. By Feb 2012, it was in the normal range, and stayed there. Now, it’s as high as it can be without being pre-diabetic. Sigh.
Cholesterol: My cholesterol is a bit wonky, and frankly, there are too many numbers to lay them all out. It basically goes like this: My total cholesterol went down as I lost weight, and is now up almost to where it was when I began. My LDL (bad cholesterol) went down as I lost weight, but never got down to normal. It’s stayed the same during regain, but is still high. My triglycerides, which were the worst, were critically high back in 2009, and dropped to “high normal” by 2012. After eating paleo a few months, I cut the numbers in half and was in the ideal range. Now, unfortunately, I’m borderline too high again. UGH. As for my HDL (good cholesterol), this is the only good news. All through losing weight, my critically-low HDL levels wouldn’t budge, and actually kept getting lower. After eating paleo however, they bumped up to normal, and now, they’re still about the same despite regain. So there’s that? A tiny bright light?
Liver: Back in 2009, my liver levels (ALT and AST) were too high. As in, fatty-liver-disease high. Bad, bad, bad. They went down to normal, and then to the low side of normal, as I lost weight. Yay! Now? The ALT levels aren’t as high as in 2009, but they’re borderline high, and the AST levels are the same as in 2009. In other words, I have a lot of stress on my liver right now. Junk food, alcohol. Sigh.
Iron: My blood iron gets tested far more often than my cholesterol and other measurements, and it has been consistently high (as in, above the normal range) because of a congenital iron disorder that runs in my family. My ferritin levels, when they’ve been tested, have also been high. They are now, too. But for a short time, when I was eating paleo – which you’d think would increase my iron/ferritin levels – they both went down to normal.
So here’s what I’ve learned. I am not healthy and I need to be healthier. It would help to lose weight, but it’s not just that. I need to eat better foods, eat less junk, drink less alcohol (or none at all for awhile). I go back in for new tests in April. I want these numbers to be vastly improved by then!
I have an eating disorder. It’s a “not otherwise specified” disorder that involves food-as-self-harm, obsession over numbers, and vacillating extremes of tracking everything and refusing to think about anything. This makes the concept of “eating healthier” very difficult. If I pay attention to my food, tracking in any way, my thinking grows disordered, and it eventually leads to binging and self-harm-via-food. If I don’t pay attention to anything, my eating grows disordered, I get anxious, and then I binge to insure failure (because then at least I have control). There really isn’t an in-between. I’m trying to find coping mechanisms, because this NEEDS to happen. I just don’t know yet.
Dear younger Manda,
I know it’s hard, but the earlier you learn to eat fruits and vegetables, the better off you’ll be. Yes, I’ve said this before, and yes, it is possible. As your older self, I know the struggles you’ll face in doing this and how long it will take. But you’re strong, and you can do it.
Also, dammit, insist on going to the doctor. For regular checkups, not just when you’re so sick that your family’s Mexican-bought-penicillin (that you’ll eventually develop an allergy to, thanks to the way it was used growing up) won’t help. I know they don’t like doctors, and don’t think they can help preventatively, but insist anyway. You shouldn’t be learning about iron disorders and cholesterol issues for the first time in your late 20s.
Love, modern-day Manda