Dr. Mark Hall: Air doesn’t matter! Blood does. That’s the answer.
—The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Let’s play some catchup, shall we?
This has been a bit of a rough school year for me.
I’ve been distracted and moody, and my concentration has been out the window. And I’ve been feeling a general sense of discombobulation, you should excuse the technical term. And it felt as though every time I was finally getting on top of matters, I’d get whacked with a bunch of other issues.
When you do the job that I do, you expect to get a lot of different issues coming from many directions at once. But this year I’ve been feeling like I’m bailing a leaky boat. And I started to think that maybe I’m not cut out to work such a busy school anymore; that perhaps I need another school with a smaller caseload and so on. 150ish students, even with a part-timer assisting me, is a lot of kids to keep track of. And yet…and yet, I still believe in the school I work with and its overall philosophy, and the fact that I’m making a difference for a lot of students who are not only at-risk, but who are in some genuine crisis. But how much can a person take, anyway?
So that’s one thing going on in my life lately. Meanwhile, I have a new doctor. My previous doctor retired and moved to the West Coast, so I had to find someone new. I’m pretty fussy about this sort of thing, so I was glad when Wife found someone she thought I might like. And with a small caveat, she was right.
During the holiday break, I did a New Patient visit with the doctor. We did a medical history, and they took some blood samples, and there was an interview or two, and so on. And the doctor had some specific suggestions for me, and based on what we’d discussed, she gave me a couple of prescriptions.
A few days later, I got a call from her office. My blood work had come back, and the numbers weren’t good at all. My cholesterol was high, which makes sense considering I hadn’t taken any cholesterol meds in about two years. But then again, they weren’t as high as they were before I started taking medication, so that was a little encouraging. My triglycerides were also a little on the high side, and we’d address that later on. What was of bigger concern, however, was my Vitamins B and D levels. Those were pretty much bottomed out. Like, I should be running around naked at the equator to get my Vitamin D levels up; that’s how low it was. I was also told that my iron levels were low and that I should see a hematologist. In the meantime, I had a follow-up visit scheduled for this past week.
I didn’t call the hematologist, largely because the conversation would have gone something like: “Why are you here?” “Uh…my doctor told me to come here?” so I sat on that one until the follow-up visit. But I filled the prescriptions and I started taking vitamin supplements, and life went on for a few weeks.
Last week, on Friday, I had my follow-up visit, and it turns out that my blood was in even worse shape than I originally thought. The guy who called me had essentially buried the lede: my iron was practically bottomed out. If I had a serious accident, I wouldn’t have enough reserves in my bone marrow to replace what blood I’d lost. And my A1C, which wasn’t on the sheet I’d received, was just barely high enough to put me in Type II Diabetes range. So we had some conversation about my diet, and my exercise, and there’s gonna be some more medication for you.
I’m back on Pravastatin, but since my cholesterol was relatively low for a high value, I’m also back to the lower dose where I started. But because of the A1C, I’m also taking something called Trulicity, which is a pen-style injectable drug that I take once a week. You pop off the gray cap on the bottom, push it against your abdomen or your thigh, and press the green button. Needle pops its way in, the stuff injects for about five seconds, then you hear a click and you’re done. One of the side effects of Trulicity is depressing your appetite, so I may experience the weight loss regardless of my excercise levels, but she also noted that if my appetite truly crashes, I need to force myself to eat some lean protein and all the fruits and vegetables I (don’t, because I’m not hungry) want.
So we’ll see how that all works out in a few months, but in the meantime, all this goes a long way toward explaining why I’m having so much trouble concentrating on stuff at work. The bottom line is that there’s an underlying medical reason, and if I can get some of my numbers back in place, there’s a good chance that I’ll be feeling a little bit more like myself again, and that I can get my act back together.
And that’s not necessarily bad, right?