By Sue Murphy
The vaccine is coming! The vaccine is coming! I have my sleeve rolled up already … except, of course, on days when it is too cold and being thus exposed would be detrimental to my overall health.
To me, it seems patently unfair that we still have to think about the “overall.” Trying to protect ourselves from a viral pandemic is enough for anyone, but your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels don’t take a COVID holiday, which puts me right back where I always am in January: making health improvement resolutions.
It’s the right thing to do, of course. I believe that part of my job as a functioning human being is to be a good steward for the body I was issued. It’s the only one I’ll get, and whatever ill-use I heap upon it will become baggage I have to carry forward. Extra baggage, I don’t need.
So, here I am with the same old more-or-less song and dance.
This time around, my “more” goal is water. You wouldn’t think drinking water would have to be an item on the to-do list, but apparently, as you get older (those painful words), when it comes to the matter of thirst, your body increasingly says, “Nah, I’m fine” when it really isn’t.
I must not be alone in my pursuit, either. At the DMV last year, I noticed that one of the assistants had a giant vat of water on her desk that included goal marks, i.e. “Halfway home” and “Just about there.” I immediately presumed other watermarks like “Visit the restroom” and “Visit the restroom again,” although I’m guessing your body would remind you about that soon enough.
In the less column? Well, I could do with a little less sugar. Achieving “less” status won’t be difficult given how many sweets I ate over the holidays, but I don’t think that’s a true measure of your blood sugar health. Eating fewer cupcakes than the ridiculous amount you had before your last visit will never get you a sticker from the doctor.
The same is true of the weigh-in. Sure, if you bulk up clothes-wise at your first visit and simply take off your coat when you come in again, you look like you’ve made progress, but it won’t get you into that magical range.
You know the “range,” those numbers in the green area on the chart on the back of the exam room door, the one you try not to think about while you’re sitting there waiting for the doctor to walk in because you’re afraid your score will be red and foreboding. When the door finally swings open, you whisper a desperate, “Come on, stale yellow!”
Last time, my numbers were in the “we’ll keep an eye on it” range, not great, but not bad enough to change my medication. I used to be in the cholesterol happy zone, but someone changed the range a few years back. The blood pressure scale held firm, but my blood pressure did not, so I have to take medication for that, too. Blood sugar? So far so good, although I’m not volunteering any blood samples until I’ve had a few weeks of post-holiday sugar detox.
A1C, BPM, systolic, metabolic … I just keep clunking along with all of those numbers rattling around inside me. Mostly, I try not to think about it, but because it’s my job to at least try to be within range, I will walk a little more, substitute an apple for a brownie now and again and drink more water. Maybe I’ll get a sticker.