My health is my responsibility – when doctors are dismissive
I have maintained my weight for the last two months. I am frustrated partly due to a recurring health issue – chest heaviness, angina-like attacks, extreme fatigue. The chest heaviness began in February when I thought I may have had pneumonia since many of my co-workers were sick at the time. The check x-ray found nothing except a small pericardial cyst. My primary care physician said it was nothing to worry about. Then in June and July the angina attacks started to occur again. My last one was a few years ago.
Why did these symptoms start again? I am in much better in mind, body, and spirit than I was 9 years even 1 year ago.
I made an appointment with my cardiologist who had initially determined I may have small vessel angina in 2011 but left it the diagnosis as undetermined. Several ER physicians and cardiologists at the time dismissed it as a bad case of GERD. At this recent appointment, my EKG was normal. The cardiologist went into a dismissive discussion on how Intermittent Fasting should not be continued long term. We debated the topic as I told him it was the first time in over 20 years that I had lost more than 3 pounds and I have kept it off. The debate continued somewhat hotly as he believed Weight Watchers is the best program.
SIDEBAR: Every single physician and specialist I have seen in this hospital system raves about Weight Watchers and it has been a topic at every single appointment regardless of why and who I was seeing for the visit. It makes me wonder if they are receiving a good referral fee for every patient that is referred to the Weight Watchers program. IF I am being honest, it should not be about a referral fee but a lifestyle a patient can maintain based solely upon the patient and not $$$. (Disclaimer: just my assumption on physician referrals.)
As I told my cardiologist, I have attempted Weight Watchers twice without seeing any weight loss or benefit primarily because it does not work with my lifestyle. I am not a tracking-points counting kind of person. Intermittent fasting works for my lifestyle and it is easy for me to do because I only need to consider the quality and quantity of food I am ingesting when I break my fast. I also educated him on the fact that not everyone who fasts intermittently follows a KETO diet, which I already knew is a cardiologist beef (pun intended).
I ended my cardiologist visit with a dismissive GERD diagnosis and to take an over-the-counter heartburn medication for at least 3 months. If my symptoms continued, my cardiologist recommended I see my gastroenterologist as he believed my intermittent fasting conversion has messed up my gut. He pronounced what I was experiencing had nothing to do with my heart even though this same cardiologist had prescribed me Nitro tablets for the exact same symptoms in 2011.
After 3 weeks of following the cardiologist’s recommendation of taking Prilosec otc every morning, I decided to return to my primary care physician for his recommendation. My symptoms had not changed, but in fact were worsening.
Let me just say, I love my primary care physician, Dr. “C” who is in a different hospital health system than my cardiologist.
Dr. C was surprised that the cardiologist did not order any further tests and could simply diagnosis me with an EKG. He referred to a cardiologist within Dr. C’s same health system for further testing.
My second cardiologist was pleasant, listened intently, asked health history questions, never commented on anything except to answer my questions. He had a medical assistant in the room to scribe the entire appointment into a laptop so the doctor could give me his whole attention. I was impressed with my visit.
SIDEBAR: Heart disease runs rampant on both sides of my family. My father died at 52 years of age from heart disease followed by his younger siblings primarily in their 50’s and 60’s. My maternal grandfather died before I was born of a stroke related to heart disease.
Within 3 weeks, a treadmill stress test and an echocardiogram were performed. My health care insurance would not pay for both tests to be performed on the same day. I received a call the cardiologist’s office after my stress test. The results were normal.
A few days after the echocardiogram, I received a call from the cardiologist’s office from a young-sounding office assistant who said in a very chipper voice that my results were normal, and that the cardiologist did not need to see me again. “What?” I asked. “The technician that performed the test was quite concerned that my resting heart rate was in the 100’s which is abnormal for me. I still have questions.” In her chipper voice, she responded, “Well, you could make an appointment with your primary care physician. Look, on the bright side,” she went on to say, “the results are normal!” Of course, I was relieved, however, I still did not have any answers. I immediately went back to see Dr. C.
Dr. C greeted me with a copy of my tests. Again, he was surprised the cardiologist’s office didn’t bother to send me a copy of them. We reviewed the tests and then he suggests, “perhaps this is psychological stress.” My face told it all. My anger rising. I was being dismissed again. It was all in my “head.”
“No, I do not believe I am overwhelmingly stressed. I have a great marriage. My kids are doing great as 20-something can be at their age, and my job does not cause me any stress which my husband can attest to as well,” I began to cry. He apologized and said he needed to ask the question and asked me to go through all my symptoms again. I told him it wasn’t his fault and that I trusted him. I was just tired and exasperated at the feeling of being dismissed. It was all in my “head.”
He said, “Sheri, we will get to the bottom of this, so let’s look again at your Hashimoto’s diagnosis and get more detailed blood lab work done including testing for other autoimmune diseases.”
IF I am being honest, IF or GERD are not the cause for these symptoms.
I wasn’t fasting prior to 2019. The assumption that GERD was causing my angina-like symptoms seemed absurd to me since they occur well into a fasting state. My health is my responsibility. Even though there are many times, especially after seeing a dismissive doctor that I just want to say, “to hell with it, I will live with it,” my quality of life matters to me. I am willing to take the doctor’s advice even if I am proven wrong.
IF I am being honest, I do need to consider my IF mistakes.
I am sure that many of you who have been following this blog series, IF I am being honest, my journey to wellness have spotted at least one mistake of mine. Or should I say, a mistake that I am in denial.
My exercise mistake
In continuing my intermittent fasting research to help me determine why I have stalled in my weight loss, I found Dr. Stan Ekberg’s video on YouTube, 15 Mistakes of Intermittent Fasting that Make You Gain Weight.
While I have not regained weight, I have kept the 27-30 pound weight loss but I have so much more weight to lose. This video showed me that I have made all 15 mistakes over the course of converting to the IF lifestyle. My number one mistake has been my relationship with exercising, or the lack thereof in any meaningful way. So, I set out to find an exercise besides walking, golfing, and reading (just kidding, no, I’m not) that did not require a gym membership, a fitness class, or expensive equipment. My second requirement is the exercise couldn’t consume a good chunk of my precious (reading) time.
I found an inexpensive and short exercise routine on YouTube using a Kettlebell. There are numerous routines lasting 5 minutes to 40 minutes using Kettlebell weights from 5 lbs. To 50 lbs. I am going to start with 10-pound Kettlebell for a $15 investment.
Tomorrow, I begin!
IF I am being honest, I am praying this is the answer to incorporating a daily cardio exercise routine that doesn’t cause any damage to furniture, electronics, or a trip to the ER. Don’t worry, I will report back here next month.
IF I am being honest, my next post on The Blogging Owl
My next post will discuss my other mistakes I have made in converting the IF lifestyle and a grocery list of my favorite go-to foods when I break a fast. IF I am being honest, my journey to wellness continues to evolve, but I am fully committed to getting it right in mind, body, and spirit.
Until next time…
I will continue to post monthly in this series, IF I am being honest, my journey to wellness until January 2020. I will then post occasionally until I reach my weight goal. Blogging my progress helps me to keep it real for me in mind, body and spirit. If you need me to be a part of your tribe for wellness in mind, body and spirit, I hope you will reach out to me. I would love to hear from you. I sincerely appreciate my readers following The Blogging Owl and my other blogs too.
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