Yesterday I posted about having to go to see my doctor for the sole purpose of going over some test results, and how I was worried about what those results might be; liver problem, heart trouble, cholesterol, or something I didn’t know about. And the winner is…
I was very anxious about to find out what the hell was going on with me. I knew that the blood test had to be redone because I hadn’t fasted for the first one, and that I had some activity in the days leading up the to the first test that had my liver working overtime. I thought that I had prepared well for the make-up test by fasting and taking care of my liver, so I was really more concerned about there being some new unexpected issue that showed up during that second test. There was a new issue, but it was something that showed up during the first test.
Sugar. My blood sugar level was high during that first blood test, so my doctor decided to run additional tests on it. Specifically an A1c test to determine how much sugar had been in the blood for the previous 2-3 months.
I didn’t even know it was possible to measure blood sugar levels for the previous 2-3 months, but there is such a test; the Hemoglobin A1c Test. What is it? The simplest definition I found is at MedicineNet.com:
Sugar sticks, and when it’s around for a long time, it’s harder to get it off. In the body, sugar sticks too, particularly to proteins. The red blood cells that circulate in the body live for about three months before they die. When sugar sticks to these cells, it gives us an idea of how much sugar has been around for the preceding three months. In most labs, the normal range is 4-5.9 %.
The good news was that my A1c came was at 6.0%; barely over the normal range limit. The bad news is that my doctor says this is “borderline type II diabeties”.
I have to accept that the test is what it is: a measurement of how much sugar had been in my system for the previous 2-3 months. But I think I can justify it.
Much like my liver test (ALT) which was high in December after Christmas celebrations but tested well down into the normal range during the second test just over a month later, I think my sugar levels were high due to the season. I understand that the test looked at the previous 2-3 months — which was most of October-December inclusive — but those months were very sweet:
- • Halloween: Not that I eat tons of candy, but some.
- • Thanksgiving: Oh the pies we had! And the cranberry sauce. I friggin’ love cranberry sauce!
- • Daughter’s B-day: More pie! (She wanted pies… not cake.)
- • Chanukah: There were a few sweets bouncing around
- • Christmas: Again, more sweets, including mixed drinks
Bottom line is that I know I overdid the sweets. The question is: Was the test a reasonable representation of my overall blood sugar if I overindulged during the last quarter of 2010?
Whether or not the A1c test was accurate, there are other factors that need to be considered. The most significant is my weight. According to the BMI scale I’m …sigh… obese. The sigh isn’t because that’s where I fall on the scale. It’s because I keep hearing from friends and family that I’m not fat, I’m just built with a wide torso. Granted, I have belly fat, but I also have legs that appear to be all muscle and not a lot of fat elsewhere. Wait… I’m digressing. This is supposed to be acceptance.
I need to lose weight. It’s as plain and simple as that. The good news is that this is a task that I’ve already started to undertake. With the knowledge that I need to get in better shape, and not really with the primary intention of losing weight, I accepted a challenge by The Kitten Who Runs to complete 30 miles in 30 days. I had already started before the doctor’s visit yesterday.
The doctor also had a couple of other things that she wants me to do in the next 3 months, which is when I must return to have these tests performed again. This is the full list:
- • Lose weight: 30 pounds*
- • Cut my sugar level
- • Track my calorie intake
- • Eat less
- • Reduce my cholesterol**
- • Limit alcohol to 3 drinks…
I already told my doctor that the 3 drinks per week was unlikely, but that I would make a conscience effort to cut back. The concern here isn’t with the alcohol, it’s with the calories. She understood that, and while reluctant, she accepts that I will follow-thru with all the other tasks that I need to perform.
You can expect that over the next few months I’ll blog about my experiences as I try to meet these goals. I’ve very confident that I’ll be able to do it all, though the 30 pounds seems overly optimistic.
* If you were curious, I only need to lose 10 pounds to no longer be “obese”. And I’m 5’11” BTW.
** My total cholesterol from the December test was 210. It was not retested in February, but my blood donation the day before my doctor visit showed it at 192, which made my doctor somewhat happy.