Fat Tuesday: Intro

Welcome to Fat Tuesdays, where I talk about health and obesity.  You might find some healthy recipes, some rants against the establishment, and a lot of self deprecating humor.  There are a lot of reasons why I want to write about health, but the biggest reason I have started to take the issue of health personally is:

For most of my adult life I have seen my weight increase steadily, with my BMI starting at nineteen (19) and ratcheting up to a whopp[er]ing thirty-four (34).  For those of you who do not have the scale memorized, a 19 is in the normal range.  Thirty-four is solidly in the obese range and getting close to morbidly obese.  While there is no confusing whether or not I am fat, I wear it reasonably well enough that most people are surprised to hear I am this unhealthy.

It sucks to be obese, but to have morbidly obese on your horizon is fucking terrifying.  But it still wasn't enough to change my ways.  My ways were, by the way, that of any food loving, gainfully employed manhattanite.  I ate out at the best restaurants in the country.  Pre fixe meals.  I also combined this a complete lack of activity, partly stemming from a desk job that requires long hours.

Earlier this year, I had a new experience.  I had a physical where I did not come back healthy.  This is a partial myth as every physical had my doctor telling me to lose weight and that my cholesterol was high, but there was never a real sense of urgency.   This time I got a call from my doctor telling me that my bloodwork showed high levels of just about everything.  From a lab technician perspective, my blood looked more like something you would find in a reuben sandwich than something you'd find in a person.  I had to go back and get another blood test, this time I needed to fast prior to the test.

As a professional hypochondriac, I prefer to go to the doctor for symptoms that I sew together into a rare disease tapestry just so I can hear his stifled laughter just before tells me why I couldn't possibly have Kuru.  As it turns out, I don't handle the real possibility of medical issues well.  I immediately went into overdrive, scouring the Internet, becoming an expert in every possible combination of diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, hypertension, and heart failure.

It should be noted that this type of thing will happen to me once a year regardless of a bad blood test result.  But fueled with a bad blood test, I was convinced it was too late for me and all was lost.   When I called my doctor to get clarification, he stifled laughter and told me that my worst case was that I was going to have a fatty liver (this is pretty close to the equivalent of self induced human foie gras).   He then went on to give me one of the best medical diagnoses I have ever had:

"Most likely, I am going to tell you after your blood test that you are fat.  And need to lose weight.  Actually, I am going to save us some time and tell you that now.  You are fat and need to lose weight."

Ouch.  Point made.  Actually, he made his point, sharpened it and jammed it in my eye.

Several days later, days where I was still convinced of the worst, I got the blood test back and I was out of the danger zone for things like diabetes and liver related problems.  Sure, my cholesterol is still high (especially the LDLs, also known as 'the bad kind'), and my triglycerides were also high, but I wasn't in immediate peril.

The good news is that my fear of being sickness and death has resulted in some lifestyle changes.  I exercise (the last time I had been in a gym there were no electronics apart from the occasional walkman) and I pay close attention to what I eat and how much of it I eat.

Let's hope I keep it up.


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