My recent medical stuff (all is fine)

A post about assorted recent and forthcoming medical stuff. Nothing bad here, all is well.

(The thought of the comments that I would likely get on such a post was stressing me out, so I’m closing comments on this.)

Content warning for a little bit of stuff about weight and BMI, though not much.

This year continues to be a year of a lot of medical appointments for me, most of them routine or minor. (…Not a lot compared to some of you. But a lot compared to my usual.)

Around the end of October, I had an annual-checkup appointment with my new primary care doctor (the first time I had met her—I was assigned to her back in February or so, when my previous PCP abruptly left, which was awfully confusing at first because both doctors had the same family name). She was fine, but she didn’t go into much detail—the whole appointment only took about 20 minutes. In addition to the exam, she signed me up for a bunch of routine blood tests and such. Didn’t blink when I asked for STD tests that aren’t part of the standard batch that they usually prescribe; but also didn’t ask me any questions about my activities.

(On a side note: when the non-doctor person went through preliminary setup stuff before the doctor arrived (like taking my blood pressure), at one point they asked me to step on a scale. I asked, “Is that required?” I assumed that, just like last time, they would say yes, but would add that they could refrain from telling me the number that the scale showed. But instead, they said “Of course not!” (in a friendly tone) and didn’t weigh me at all. (They did measure my height; turns out I’ve lost a bit of height since last time I got measured.) The lack of weighing was great, but it was a little disconcerting when my after-visit summary in the medical app included a BMI number. I added a note to that number pointing out that they had not in fact measured my BMI. I refrained from adding comments about the problems with BMI.)

This week, I had a video call with my psychopharmacologist to confirm that Lexapro continues to work well for reducing my anxiety.

Later, I had a video call with my new PCP to follow up on the test results; I again (or still) have slightly-higher-than-would-be-ideal overall cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol levels. (Not hugely higher, but a bit.) When my previous doctor first saw my slightly-too-high cholesterol levels, several years ago, she told me “You need to eat lower on the food chain”—which really annoyed me because she hadn’t bothered to ask what I eat. There is not a whole lot of cholesterol in my diet. I should definitely get more exercise, though.

The new doctor also didn’t ask what I eat; she instead told me that she had run my cholesterol numbers through a risk-of-heart-disease calculator, and it had come back with a risk estimate over the next 10 years of 8.4%, where she aims to have patients under 7.5%. So she told me I could either be super careful about my diet and exercise from now on, or (what she recommended) she could prescribe me statins, which lower cholesterol.

I asked about the downsides of statins, and she mentioned side effects, but said we would do a followup check in three months to see if I was having side effects.

So she gave me a prescription, and I picked it up. (Atorvastatin, generic for Lipitor.) Haven’t started taking them yet, but will soon.

Meanwhile, my week has been a little annoying on an entirely different medical front: On Monday, my lower back started hurting. It’s the kind of intermittent spasming that has sometimes happened in the past, but usually in the past it’s gone away in a few hours; this time, it’s been going for about three days. It’s significantly better than it was when it started, and it’s now mostly fine if I don’t move; but I’m still getting occasional sharp twinges, especially when I move abruptly. I’m gonna continue to treat it gently, give it heat (I got a heating pad, at Mary Anne’s suggestion), take Advil, etc.; I imagine it’ll be fine in another day or two.

(I thought at first this was just one of those aging things, but then I remembered that a couple days previous, I had played Beat Saber for the first time in months, and I had played it on a significantly harder level than I’m used to, and I hadn’t done any stretching before or afterward. So I now suspect that that was the problem.)

Lessee, what else? Oh, yesterday I went to the dentist and had a routine tooth-cleaning. That went fine.

This morning, I went to the dermatologist. My new PCP had referred me for a routine screening to check for skin cancer (not for any particular reason, just general principles); that seemed to me like a fine idea.

The person who checked me in was vaguely brusque, and asked me a question that I didn’t know how to answer (about whether I wanted a whole-body check; my PCP hadn’t mentioned anything one way or another, and I didn’t know what the standard was or what the alternative was); and then they told me to change into a paper gown (but to leave my underwear on), and they left the room. It wasn’t until I tried to change into the gown that I discovered that it wasn’t nearly as long as the usual hospital paper gown; it was more like a paper vest. It came to about halfway down my belly, leaving everything below that exposed. The person who checked me in had also left me another paper garment, but that one turned out to be the same style/length as the first one.

I’ve never had a dermatology full-body exam before, so I didn’t know whether this was the standard dermatology “gown” or what. So I put it on. I posed for myself in the mirror—it had these huge shoulders, so it kinda looked like the top part of a superhero outfit. I was amused.

The doctor eventually arrived, and she turned out to be great. Friendly and informative, and immediately put me completely at ease. She saw what I was wearing, and told me that I could wear a longer paper garment if I wanted to be less exposed; I said this was all I’d been given, so she turned the second paper vest into a sort of (as she put it) miniskirt for me to wrap around my waist to cover me a little more. (Her completely casual-but-sympathetic manner led me to feel not at all bothered by the lack of clothing.) For the exam itself, she told me what she was going to do before she did it; I adore it when doctors do that—it makes me feel taken-care-of and safe. She was very reassuring—checking each spot that she found on my skin, telling me what each one was and that it wasn’t a problem. She was also efficient; got through the whole exam quickly and with a minimum of fuss. By far the best medical interaction I’ve had in months; really nice. I thanked her in person, but I’ll try to figure out some way to otherwise show my appreciation.

Anyway, that was all for this week’s medical stuff.

Next week, I’m having my ears cleaned, and then getting fitted for hearing aids! I’m excited about that. Most of the time, I can get by without hearing aids; but when I’m talking with people, my OTC ones do improve my hearing, and I’m hoping that these fancy expensive prescription ones will be significantly better. We’ll see.

And I think that’ll be the last of my medical appointments for a few weeks (until the hearing-aid followup appointment).

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