Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fighting Back with Both Fists

January 2012 will be the month filled with doctor visits for me. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I hate going to the doctor, but I definitely don't like it. It makes me edgy and feel like something scary is lurking somewhere within my body that is about to be discovered and ruin my life. Dramatic much? Typically, I take the "I don't go to the doctor unless I'm sick" approach. I couldn't tell you the last time I went to my regular doctor. Thank the Lord for the Walgreens Take Care Clinic if you just need a quick round of antibiotics for a sinus infection or sore throat.

This month will be different for me. I am taking a more pro-active approach with my health. 2011 was a year of weight loss for me and I want to 2012 to be an overall healthy year. Including losing that stubborn ass last 10 lbs. Okay well maybe those pounds aren't as stubborn as I am lazy. Hey - a girl needs a break sometimes! Plus, kudos to me for not gaining a single pound since I quite my diet and extreme workout regimen last August. Okay enough patting myself on the back...

With the sudden and scary heart problems my Daddy suffered this year, I have learned a lot about our family's health history. My Daddy about gave me a heart attack when he suffered his own back in November. He's only 48 years old, and in pretty good health for someone his age. He actually ended up having quadruple by-pass surgery in December. He's doing great nowadays. He feels a little better and a little stronger every day. His little health scare naturally got us all thinking about our own health. My dad has strongly encouraged both my brother and I to go get a full physical workup every year to stay on top of any health problems that could be laying dormant in our genes. My brother's job requires an annual physical for their health insurance plan, but mine does not. So I have to take matters into my own hands.

My family history is viciously working against me where my health is concerned. My dad's mom's (my paternal grandmother's) entire family has an ugly history of heart disease. Two of her brothers (my dad's uncles) died before they turned 50 of heart attacks. And she suffered a massive stroke about 3 years ago, that didn't kill her but left her unable to take care of herself. She is now 69 and lives in a nursing home. And now my dad with his heart attack at 48 years old.He has never suffered any other health problems in his life - no surgeries and no broken bones or so much as a stitch ever. My paternal great-grandmother (dad's dad's mom) died of lung cancer about 10 years ago - hers was self induced I believe though because she smoked like a freight train. My paternal grandfather (dad's dad) is still alive and quite healthy - he's 70 years old. To my knowledge, there is not any other cancer related illnesses on dad's side.

Now let's layout my mom's side of the's a doozy! Let's start with my mother herself - breast cancer when she was in her early 30's - treated and luckily, now in remission. My mother has struggled her whole life with addiction problems - drugs, alcohol, weird fads - you name it, she's been hooked on it probably. They say this can be passed down through the genes - not real sure if I buy into that, but I wanted to mention it because I'm sure it's working against me somehow. Aunt (mom's sister) developed Hodgkin's disease - cancer of the lymph nodes - first when she was 17, and has battled it twice since then - now in remission. Maternal grandmother - I actually just found out that she had by-pass surgery at one point. She had a slew of health problems - breast cancer, chronic back pain, (I believe) addiction to pain pills, respiratory problems due to a lifetime of smoking, debilitating arthritis...the list goes on. She died at the age of 63 from COPD. My mom's dad died maybe 13 years ago after a battle with liver disease - also brought on by his actions from a lifetime of binge drinking and drug problems.

Sorry for the all the confusing relation explanations - that's a little hard to read. It's necessary to explain though because those statics speak for themselves as a scare tactic.

Due to all these contributing factors, I am taking a pro-active approach to my health. Lesson #1 here - don't EVER start doing drugs; thus you cannot become addicted to drugs. I'm thinking that addictive gene that seemingly runs so heavily in my family skipped my brother and I - Thank the Lord - because we haven't had any problems.
Lesson #2 stay on top of any potential danger areas. I had my annual OB-GYN appointment yesterday, and everything seemed fine. Of course I won't get the official pap smear results back for about a week, but I've never had one come back irregular. Doctor Appointment #1 - CHECK! I also go a referral from her yesterday to set up an appointment for my first mammogram. Since my mom had breast cancer in her early 30's, they suggest that I start getting closer check-ups around 5 years prior to the age my mom developed her problems. Hello age 27 - congratulations you get to have your boob squeezed this year (sorry, not in a fun way!). Once I get that scheduled, it will be CHECK on Doctor Appointment #2! I definitely believe I will feel some relief after getting that one out of the way and knowing things are fine in that department. At my dad's urging I called my regular doctor today to set up an appointment in 2 weeks for a full physical work up. Not 100% exactly what that entails yet because I don't think I've ever had one. I can't eat or drink after midnight the night before though so I know they will be drawing blood. I'm guessing we will go over blood pressure, cholesterol - good and bad, thyroid - among other areas.
Lesson # 3 - The more you know about your family history - and your spouses - the more you can eduacte yourself on potential danger zones. I say your spouses because I think it's important to know what together, you can pass down to your children. I know this is an area concern for me - and my future kids.

That makes me want to break out in hives just reading back over all that. I must admit that I'm a little anxious about all these doctor appointments. My blood pressure was a little high yesterday - 130/88 - but I'm thinking that because sitting in your OB-GYN's office isn't the most comfortable of places. Maybe I need to go to one of those cuff stations at Wal-Mart and check it again just to get a more normal reading.

2012 is about fighting your family history with BOTH fists! (And thanks to my gym time in 2011, I think I can kick it's ass!!) Wish me luck!


Cami said...

I've never heard that about Walgreens! Is that any Walgreens?! If so, that'd be AMAZING news for me...I frequently get sinus infections and dont like going to the dr for it!

But most importantly - will be praying for you and going to the doctor <3

<3-Cami from First Day of My Life

The Pink Growl said...

I don't think the clinics are at every Walgreens. But I know there are about 5 in my area. Do you hav ethe Walgreens app on your phone? I LOVE mine! You can scan the barcode on your presciptions and upload them to refill. Plus, it has all the info about the clinic locations closest to you. :)

Natalie said...

Kudos to you for taking charge of your health! My parents both have Type 2 diabetes and my dad also has high blood pressure. I know I don't want to be reliant on medication and check my sugars every day so I have to be proactive about my health!

Cally said...

I definitely need to do this. I'm good about keeping up on the OBGYN appointments, but I've never actually had a real doctors check up. And the only things I know about my family health history are the things that have happened in my own memory.