The irony of the body betrayed

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Oh, the irony of the body betrayed….

The meals I prepare for the two of us at home are basically vegetarian. Even when we go out to eat or to a reception or banquet, we usually stick with the salmon and lots of salad (hold the dressing).

Well, I do anyhow.

Guess who is now on medication for coronary artery disease.

How come we who exercise regularly, lower our fat intake, never smoke, see a dentist regularly – how come we’re the ones who get smacked with high cholesterol and triglycerides in our blood tests?

Why would someone who follows all the rules need angioscopy for nearly closed coronary arteries?

How can some people scarf down hamburgers and fries and maintain the blood pressure and cholesterol of a college student?

How come a cardiologist runs tests and says, “Your heart is perfect – but your gallbladder is full of stones. Out with it!”?

The gallbladder guy says, “Sure,” and pounces on the errant organ.

And yet…mere days after the gallbladder becomes history, the heart hurts again.

Enough to warrant another look.

Similar symptoms put this patient in the hospital nine years ago, and the angioscopy showed it would take three stents to hold those arteries open. When “scoped” this time, they were still open and in fine shape – but there were new blockages that required two more stents.

And the heart still hurt.

Went in again, and while there was still one very tight artery, probably the cause of the pain, it looked too brittle to try to “rotor-rooter” it open. So we turn to medicine, and it seems to be working.

I take this personally. I have been the chief caretaker of the patient’s health for more than 50 years. Why, when I cook “healthy” food, has he been dogged by coronary artery disease?

At least he hasn’t grown a beer belly, not a big one anyhow.

Look around. Have you ever seen the beer guts bigger? Mostly among males, but women are guilty too. Maybe this explains the declining birth rate. What a turn-off.

“Hey, Baby, you want to…you know…?”

“Ugh. Check back with me when you’ve lost about 80 pounds.”

It’s been a long couple of years, both of us in and out of medical offices. I have a few concerns myself, the most serious being tremors in my right arm and leg. My neurologist humors me and doesn’t call it Parkinson’s disease in my hearing. I exercise and take pills. So far the worst thing about it is that I’m right-handed and can’t write legibly, nor brush my teeth effectively.

Speaking of teeth. Another study came out saying what several others have said, that there appears to be a link between serious gum disease and coronary artery disease. If “link” sounds wussy, I think it is intended to. No one is sure about which came first.

Dave lived 70 years with healthy teeth and gums. Used to get compliments from his dental hygienist, praising the great care he took of his gums. Suddenly they went south, as the saying goes. Seriously infected. He went from dentist to dentist, from deep cleaning to periodontal care. Before he could get the gum disease under control, he was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Just like that.

I mention this because another point made by a recent study I read is that doctors and dentists don’t talk to each other. We need to make sure all our health care people knows what each other is treating, and how.

Like my long-held contention that I’ve never known a physician to ask about our eating patterns, what we eat, and how much. The closest I get is that I’ll inject into the conversation the fact that we eat mostly fish, vegetables, fruits and soy. The response: “Un-hunh. Try to cut back on your fats and sugar.”

Twice we started making plans to go to Germany to visit Mary, and twice we postponed the trip for medical reasons.

Now we’re thinking maybe Christmas. Cold, damp and gray in Europe, but the Christmas markets are so cheerful. Are we well enough?

The most ironic aspect of all is the kindness of our friends. I know they’re tempted to laugh; they must be. For all these years they’ve listened to my egocentric sermons about why we don’t eat pork and beef, bacon and eggs. Other than winking at Dave and inviting him to McDonald’s when I’m on my high horse, they’ve refrained from pointing out that we, of all people, are falling apart.

Our bodies are betraying us. And I take this personally.

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Submitted by susieq on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 7:28pm.

If you live long enough, something is going to go wrong with your health. My motto is: Eat what you want, smoke, and don't worry about exercise. I know people who have lived (some are still living) into their nineties and never worried about these things.

Submitted by Nitpickers on Wed, 10/01/2008 - 4:16pm.

Need them that heart caths, etc., after 50.

Need them thar Colonoscopy also!

Jest eatin lettuce don't cut the mustard!

Also, sometimes whom you are married to can also have an influence!

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