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Passing the Test

January 22nd, 2012

Last month I went to the doc. Nothing wrong, just the annual physical I get “free” with my health insurance. I had skipped the exam the year prior and I figured I might as well get the benefit of documenting my robust health!

A few days after the physical itself, the lab tech called to tell me the results. Cholesterol, triglycerides, all the usual markers were good, some even great. But then came the kicker: “we’re concerned about your blood sugar,” the tech said. “Your fasting blood glucose came back at 133.”

Silence.

I was stunned. I know that by the usual markers, 70-100 is normal, over 100 is pre-diabetic and anything over 125 is considered diabetic. I am a health coach. I subscribe to a mostly raw vegan diet. My weight is normal. How the hell could my blood sugar be high enough to place me in the diabetic zone?

“We’d like you to come in for an A1c test,” the tech continued. An A1c? I could barely focus. “OK,” I said, let’s get it scheduled.”

Because of holidays and office hours, it would be a couple of weeks before I was able get in to have blood drawn. An A1c is a simple test and the results are available immediately, but anyone who has ever gotten “irregular” lab results back knows that a couple of weeks is a painfully long time to wait. In your head you run all manner of scenarios, from worst-case to imagining the doc telling you “there was a mix-up at the lab and we gave you someone else’s results.”

Finally, the requisite time had passed and I arrived for my 2nd blood draw. It felt like an eternity while I waited for Dr. Kim to come back into the room. When she did, she was expressionless. “Well?” I asked. “You’re at 5.1,” she said.

5.1. “That’s normal,” I said. “Correct,” she replied.

Normal. What a beautiful word.

I’ll never really know what happened with the test done during my routine physical, and at this point I don’t really much care. But living with the uncertainty of those few in-between weeks had a profound effect on me. I already was—by most standards—health-conscious. But after getting the initial test results, I really scrutinized my daily practices. Did I really need to sweeten my tea with honey? Am I honest with myself about how much wine I drink in a week? Are my gym workouts still effective? Good questions to ask, but had I not had the “scare,” I might not have taken such a complete self-inventory. And my inventory did reveal to me a few areas where I decided I could make some improvements. Nothing huge, really, but a few adjustments that I think will payoff if I can be consistent over time.

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