For all my adult life, going in for my annual physical was alot like going to Adam’s parent/teacher conferences when he was growing up – all warm fuzzies and “You’re doing a great job” and “No problems here.” After all, I’m not overweight, I run, I don’t smoke, I eat lots of fruits and vegetables – and did I mention, I run? Running has felt like my talisman against any health issues – after all, if I can run a half-marathon, surely nothing could be wrong with my body, right?
I recently went for a bone scan and bloodwork at my new doctor’s office, a very personable OBGYN who was recommended to me as someone who has a concentration on women in “my stage of life”. (Unlike the girls of today who have no problem mentioning their – um, periods – around the opposite sex, I still feel akward saying I am in “menopause”, but there it is.) I was not surprised at the results of the bone scan, showing that I am going down the slippery slope to osteoperosis, since my mother and grandmothers all had it, and my scan from several years ago showed bone loss. I was prepared to have to start weight lifting and maybe even some sort of hormone therapy. What I was not prepared for was the results of my bloodwork, showing that I – the runner- now have high cholesterol!
Surely the lab made a mistake and got my blood mixed up! In our family, Keith’s side has the cholesterol and heart issues and my side has cancer, plain and simple. My parents always ate whatever they wanted, and even though my mother was pretty heavy on the cheese and butter, never had cholesterol problems. My mother and grandmothers didn’t really die of anything specific, but basically just wore out at an old age. Keith’s family on the other hand, have all died at fairly young ages of heart related problems. I’m always on him about his eating and worry about his cholesterol, so he thinks this change is pretty humorous – I feel like my body has tricked me!
My research has shown that cholesterol often goes up in ladies in my “stage of life”. Great. Here’s the other kicker – I have struggled all my life with my weight – in fact, sadly I have based much of my self-worth on what the scale says – and the last few months I have gotten down to a very good weight for me. So get this – osteoporosis is worse in thin people, because if you are carrying around a lot of pounds, your bones are getting weight bearing work all the time! Is there no justice here?
So here’s my confession – even though I know in my head that at least 90% of my good health all my life comes from my genes, I have still harbored a certain feeling of superiority in my low blood pressure, good cholesterol, and ability to pretty much do whatever I feel like. Now I am having to admit that just because I am a runner, I am not immune to my body letting me down. I’m just thankful it is not worse.
I go this week to talk with my sweet doctor, but I pretty much know what she will say – I need to do more cross training so that I am exercising every day, not just those few running days, weight bearing for my bones, and more focus on my diet – I guess I need to cut back on the red meat and sweets, and drink red wine(!) We will discuss hormones, although I am not so sure I want to go down that road. I feel like the student who has made a bad grade and has to face the music.
Isn’t it sad that I am feeling guilty over what is a normal part of aging? I don’t apologize for my gray hair and wrinkles, yet I feel like it is my fault that these other changes are happening.
What has been your experience?