Today has turned into “Health Maintenance Day.” For reasons that I don’t recall, I scheduled a visit with my internist on the same day as my semi-annual dental hygiene appointment. Perhaps I thought that confining my agony to one day every six months was a good idea. Actually, I don’t mind the dentist. My gums are great, so no one yells at me for neglecting them. I’m in and out in 30 minutes. It’s the doctor that I dread.
The doctor’s visit started last week with a routine blood draw. I don’t care for those much. You have to remember to fast the night before and drive to the office the next morning before you faint. Of course, my blood pressure always elevates, and I might very well faint either from low blood sugar or from hyperventilating. Either way, not good.
I don’t like the latex strip of drain tube that they wrap around your arm like an anaconda. I don’t like the smell of alcohol, and I don’t like that big wad of gauze that they tape to the wound that is going to become a half-dollar-sized bruise about 10 minutes after leaving the office.
More than that, I absolutely hate having a stranger slapping my arms trying to find my veins, because I have those shy veins that are invisible to the naked eye. “Oh, it should have been right there,” the phlebotomist will say as she/he swivels the point of the needle subcutaneously (i.e., under the skin) like a snake searching its prey, while blood drains from my brain and pools just above the tourniquet. I once had to send the phlebotomist to get her supervisor when she threatened to take the sample from my foot.
When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure and sent for a nuclear stress test, the technician stabbed me six times before settling on the top of my right wrist to catheterize me and strapped on a 50cc syringe filled with radioactive material. I swear, it was so big that if the lights had been turned out, I probably would have glowed. Instead, they sat me in the waiting room in front of a television tuned to the “Maury Show” with inbred idiots screaming at one another over paternity issues. I was the only one NOT surprised that my blood pressure peaked at 210 on the treadmill portion of the test.
About a year ago, a very capable phlebotomist pointed out the exact spot on the upper inside of my left arm. “In the future, tell them that’s the sweet spot,” she advised. By golly, she was right. Maybe I should get an X tattooed on the spot. Medical professionals don’t like to be told how to do their job, but everyone has listened to me after slapping both arms to find a vein. And no one, but no one, is going to draw blood from the back of my hand. I will draw blood from someone’s nose, first.
Today’s visit was about a 5 on the satisfaction meter. My weight remains what it was last October. [Must they weigh you in your clothes? Can’t each exam room have a scale, so you can strip down to your skivvies like you do at home? Don’t they know that boots and a heavy sweater add 5 pounds?] My blood pressure was 136/74, which is actually low for me. Yay! The beta blocker and statins are doing their jobs. Then, the doctor came in. After looking in my eyes and ears and listening to my chest, he sat down in front of his computer to go over my lab results. My HDL (or “Happy” cholesterol, as I think of it) is so high that it probably keeps my LDL under control.
“Liver function, normal. Complete blood count, fine. Blood sugar, low 90s — it’s always low, you know. [Nope. I had no clue.] Cholesterol is good at 194. LDL is 74, but triglycerides are 299. You need to work on your diet.”
“What? What will be left to eat? I don’t eat fat or dairy.”
“Sugar and alcohol make the triglycerides go up.”
“I don’t drink more than 3-4 glasses of wine a week, and I’ve cut out sugar,” I protested. “I’ve lost almost 20 pounds. What else can I do?” For nine months, no sugary drinks, no sugar in my coffee, no ice cream, just the occasional (maybe once a week) dessert. I apportion super thin cookies, which have 20 calories each, to one a day, or one little square of dark chocolate a day. I don’t even have maple syrup with my daily frozen waffles.
And then, I remembered.
“Oh, wait. I had that blood drawn last Monday, didn’t I? The day after Easter, after two weeks of eating Peeps.” The doctor started to laugh.
“I ate the Peeps because they’re fat free! Oh, give me a break.”
“Well, we’ll see when you come back in October.” As he left the room, I heard him chuckle, “Peeps!”
I know I say this all. the. time, but I am really going to give up online dating. I’m proud to say that I annoyed two men on three dates in the past two weeks. The one guy even tried a second date, but he moved to the kissing stage before I did, and boom! He deleted me. I’m too much of a lady to pass judgment on them in print, but I will say that I was relieved. I will also say that I learned a little. No divorced men. No men who lie about their health. No men in their 60s who have never been married.
My friend, Maureen, and I frequently compare notes on the guys we encounter on match.com. We are similar in many ways. We are both short. We both have daughters. We’re both blonde (one of us naturally, and it ain’t me). We both live in the country in beautiful homes with large dogs. We are both singers. Well, she actually has a degree in music, which I can barely read. I just have a degree in English, and, heck, everyone I know reads, speaks, and writes English, so that’s no big deal. She, however, enjoys the outdoors. I appreciate the outdoors — from the indoors. Therein lies a key difference to all the rock-climbing, snowboarding, marathon-running, cross-country-cycling silver foxes on match.com who aspire to be
Bruce Jenner — Lance Armstrong — well, maybe that’s a different issue.
Located 15 miles north of Baltimore, Maureen and I have decided that we are geographically undesirable, although she attracts a better class of date than I do. She actually had a guy from the DC-area (the most desirable demographic) date her more than once. I can’t even get one to answer an email. Her dates are professional men who take her to trendy restaurants and out kayaking and hiking (yeah, yeah, I take ownership of that). Mine are all ax-grinders.
One of my recent dates tried to set up a date with her while his date with me was pending. This is not the first time that’s happened. I once dated a guy who turned out to have been one of her former boyfriends. Maybe all short blonde singers look alike.
“You should put the photo of us singing together on your match.com profile,” I suggested. “I have it on mine. We’re standing side-by-side. I wonder if anyone will notice.”
On my date with the guy who unwittingly was trying to date us both, he mentioned having been on an outing in the neighborhood where she lives, not too far from mine. I seized my opportunity.
“Oh, yes, that’s where my church is,” I told him. “St. James? The old, historic church on the hill?”
“Really?” he was clearly uninterested.
“Yes, I’m the Senior Warden there, and my daughter went to school there.”
“Oh,” I thought I detected wheels turning. “Did you say you sing?”
“Yes, I sing at St. James, and I sing with the Deer Creek Chorale. I have a photo of it on my profile.”
I could swear he was putting it together, but I could be wrong. That would make the perfect story, wouldn’t it? Alas, I’ll never know. Our date lasted a total of 90 minutes, which was a disappointment, not because I wanted to spend more time with the guy who showed up, but because I wanted to spend time with the charming man who had written the most flirtatious emails I’ve ever received. Instead, we found out that our political ideals don’t match, our cultural ideals don’t match, and our geographical preferences don’t match. I told him that before I agreed to go out with him, so he can’t say he’s surprised. Another date courtesy of mismatch.com.
Well, I’m going to enjoy the last slice of My Sister’s birthday cake, orange and devil’s food marble with fudge frosting, so, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!