There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must shed those metaphorical childhood garments in favor of the more age-appropriate Big Girl Pants. As they say, there comes a time for putting aside the naivete of childhood and tightly grab the harness of reality — or maybe I’m the only one who says that? Either way, that’s how I (wearing said Big Girl Pants) found myself waiting in an exam room Tuesday morning, sitting there nervously and trying not to fidget. I began to get that jittery butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach — you know, the kind you used to get in college the night before the “big test.” Only in my case, this was a far more important test than my Spanish tests ever were.
Before long, the questions started swirling through my head as if it was the lightning round of a ’70s game show.
What if my blood pressure is off the charts?
What if I have a fever?
Will my pulse be as high as it usually is? (side note: I do really need to work on that one…)
What is the doctor going to say about my weight?
Why didn’t I make an appointment sooner? (Yes, I know what you said, mom…)
And time itself? Well, that just seemed to stop all together, so you can just imagine all those questions just having quite a field day rummaging around in my brain.
The nurse began the exam. Temperature? 97.5. Blood pressure? 108/80. Whew, it looked like I was in the clear so far. After taking down the rest of my health history, including the mile-long list of medicines I’m allergic to and my past surgeries (I’m still trying to figure out how to condense 16 years of surgeries into one coherent explanation; offer your tips in the comments if you like!), it was time to meet with the doctor.
Here we go, I thought.
She did the usual routine: Looked in my mouth and ears, listened to my heart and lungs and felt my lymph nodes. She then went over my chart with me, highlighting those red flags that we need to watch for. I have a family history of breast cancer as well as high blood pressure. OK, I thought, this isn’t anything that I can’t handle. I’ve got this.
And then she came to my blood test results from last year. There were the numbers, practically screaming like a siren on the computer screen. My cholesterol. It was too high. Way too high. You hear about people with high cholesterol and you see those commercials, but you always think, “Oh, that’s something adults get. I don’t have to worry about that sort of thing yet.”
That’s when it hit me: I am one of those people. I’ve become the “target demographic,” as it were, and there was no use denying it. My doctor ordered another blood test and I left the office armed with a packet on ways to alter your diet. I’ll admit that I was a bit scared. I felt defeated in a way that I never have before. What was going to happen?
Later that evening, my mom and sister said some things that helped put it all in perspective — in a pretty positive perspective, actually. Throughout all my medical days and all my surgeries, I became so used to having the doctors and nurses “fix” me; it was almost as if things were out of my control. Now, I’m the one who needs to take control and “fix” myself — well, my cholesterol, I suppose.
Maybe they were right. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how amazing this was. It also led me to another revelation…
This whole experience has FINALLY made me feel like I’m normal. This new medical development has virtually nothing to do with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome or anything related to my disability. Nothing. At. All. All those years of feeling so different because of my disability? Maybe it didn’t really matter. As it turned out, I’m more normal than I thought. My body is more normal than I thought. I’m not immune to those aches and pains of getting older. Here I am, struggling with something that millions of people my age struggle with; I’m not in the margins anymore! And that, my friends, is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.
As for the original reason why I went to the doctor in the first place? Let’s just say my doctor referred me to another doctor, so fingers crossed that everything turns up alright. I’ve got an appointment next week and will keep you all posted. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to stave off these cookie cravings and opt for a healthy snack. I can do this, right? Any advice, friends?
[Photos via We Heart It]