Thursday, September 27, 2018

A Little Perspective

Fourth of July Lake (in the distance)
looking south from just a little west of Round Top Lake,
Carson Pass area, highway 88, CA

Are those mountains far away or closer than they look? Is that lake small or big? It depends on your perspective!

This post was to be about something else entirely but instead of what I was going to write about, I think I will share my experience from yesterday's visit to the doctor.

It's been 6 years since my bypass surgery (9/13/12).  Twice a year, I go for a visit with my cardiologist. In advance of that visit, I do some testing to see if my carotid arteries are still in good shape and I have my blood drawn in order to check my cholesterol levels and the functioning of my liver. When I see my cardiologist, I joke with him that I must be his most boring patient! With the exception of one thing, nothing has changed for me in the last 6 years. My cholesterol levels have remained constant, my overall cholesterol ratio is good, my blood pressure is low (good) and my liver is holding up nicely. The blockages in my carotid arteries have not advanced any further so that is always positive news as well. In addition to the above, my lifestyle choices don't pose much risk to my cardiovascular disease. I don't smoke or take drugs and I don't drink anymore. I haven't any extraneous conditions like diabetes or hypertension, I am not physically inactive or overweight. I am an (almost) older woman and I haven't a clue about my genetics, but all signs for continued good health look fine for now. I realize that health status is not a static thing, so as I get older, I will continue to monitor and change what I can. In the meantime though, I take my medications and thank my lucky stars.

As I left the office yesterday, I thought about how very fortunate I am. Not just in terms of our insurance coverage or the personal support that I receive, which all contribute to my sense of well being, but really in terms of what actually didn't happen to me. As of 2010, the leading cause of death for American women is heart disease (and this statistic is still true today). Over and above cancer, it is the number one killer of women. Women get it younger than you might think and the risk increases as we get older. Additionally, 23% of women will die within one year of a first recognized heart attack; 22-32% of women  heart attack survivors will die within five years. There are more statistics like this, taken from the website of The American College of Cardiology. Take a look at the link. It might scare the hell out of you like it does me. People may want to argue with the numbers but really, who cares? Any numbers are too high, in my opinion. 

I wrote above about what didn't happen to me. I did have some things happen of course. I got cancer when I was 30, was treated with chemotherapy and radiation which ultimately most likely caused the coronary artery disease and subsequent heart attack. I have received excellent medical care and I have the support of my husband, friends, and family. I have had setbacks and bad days. I have overlooked some other health issues. The scenario isn't perfect. It's pretty good though.

But back to those mountains and that lake. I went hiking with my friends on Tuesday. I had a hell of a time hauling myself up to one of the lakes on our route and then some more fun ensued as we went in search of the lookout point for the lake shown above. It was worth the extra mileage though to see that lake (Fourth of July Lake as mentioned above). Standing at the edge of the lookout point, the lake seemed bigger than I expected. The mountains felt closer than what I would have thought. It felt like we were right there with everything because really, we were in the middle of things, so to speak.  Both the lake and the mountains are far away, though. Not impossibly far from there (people hike to that lake) but far enough. It's all in your perspective, I think.

And that is what I wanted to say really. My health history might seem kind of bad at first glance just like those mountains and lake might seem far away. It is bad (and they are far) but if I just focused on that, well, I would be in trouble. So, I try to focus on my positive health status today and the fact that I didn't die, twice. It's a miracle to me; something I don't fully understand. As I walked out of my doctor's office yesterday, I thought to myself how very lucky I am to be here. There were people in his office that didn't look so great. People older than me, granted, (and my time will come) but for now, it looks good. Very good. As I wrote above, it's all in your perspective.

Thanks for reading, 

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