I set a record at the doctor’s office yesterday.
“In twenty years of studying blood results as a certified lipidologist,” he said, “I have never seen cholesterol results as high as this!” At which point he started to recite numbers that sounded like the Dow on some record-breaking day.
“Uh, I knew my cholesterol was high,” I demurred. “…But I was hoping to reduce it through diet and exercise?”
“We could send you to Auschwitz and these numbers wouldn’t drop enough for my comfort,” he said. No, really, he said that. The doctors at Premiere Physicians are nothing if not characters. “There’s something about your body chemistry that’s off. No, no, you need statins. Now.”
So here we are at a crossroads in my life. On the one hand, I’m not overly worried. My stress test and ECG look, and I quote my Auschwitzian doctor, “Great.” I’ve always had high cholesterol, as does my family, and we’re pretty long-lived. If my body produces such vast amounts of cholesterol, I’m reasonably confident that it’s probably designed to absorb amounts of it, since my body and my family have proven remarkably resistant to various things that are about to kill you.
That said, I remember my teeth.
The galling thing about my five years spent without front teeth is that I had warning. I’d been to a dentist before who’d said that I had gum disease and should have my teeth cleaned periodically. And I said, “Sure, yeah, I absolutely should do that,” and then forgot to hit the dentist for years at a time. What I should have been doing was flossing like hell, using Listerine, getting a Sonicare toothbrush to ensure that my teeth were as healthy as possible…
…but that seemed like a lot of work at the time. Flossing was clumsy, hard to do. I hated the taste of Listerine. So I went on, and then one day I spent $10,000 on surgery to have my wobbling teeth taken out. And spent several years, embarrassed and mortified and in pain, getting false ones back.
I could shrug and move on, but these days I take an extra five minutes every morning to floss and swish and brush, and it seems like such an obvious habit I’m aghast that I didn’t condition myself to do it before. But I remember how awkward and clumsy and stupid I felt flossing, since I wasn’t much good at it, and I realize there was a hurdle I should have crossed.
The problem with me now is that I hate fruit. I mean, fucking hate it. I like fruit-flavored things, I like juice, but the pulpy nasty skin-shredded texture of fruit grosses me out. And the taste of fish is like ocean shore rot in my mouth.
…but I also used to hate the taste of salad, and broccoli, and snap peas, all of which are now staples of my diet. I just ate them. And learned to like them.
What I need to do is just bear down for a month and eat a box of fucking berries every morning, and have fish three times a week. I need to learn to condition my body to crave healthier stuff. Which is why, the other day, I went out and got a box of blueberries and ate half of them.
I despised every bite. Tried not to gag. I know many of y’all like fruit, but imagine eating ants. Imagine sitting there at a big ol’ anthill, scooping out a handful of wriggling insects and choking them down. Then imagine not only eating ants until you were full, but eating ants daily for the rest of your life.
I mean, you could do it. If you had to. Which is what I’m doing now. I’ve eaten fruit every morning now, and had fish twice, and both times afterwards I was ravenous for real food. But I’m at a crossroads now, where I can learn to love a leaner lifestyle, and maybe be okay… Or go the route of my friend Steve, who had a huge heart attack and now has to approach food like it’s some traitor at the gate, checking every bit of content, for a bowl of ice cream could literally kill him.
I can ignore shit until my teeth fall out, or I can make a concerted effort to change shit, so… I’m gonna change shit. These high levels might just be a quirk of my body chemistry, or they might be like my Uncle Billy, who’s had to have heart surgery before the age of 65. I could hit the snooze button and wait until everything hits crisis levels, or, you know, I could try to be a rational human being.
So I’m gonna wince and cram down some berries. And some fish. And maybe, if I’m lucky, in a year that’ll be something I’ve come to enjoy.
Today, though, I’m nose-first in the anthill.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.