My friend, John, told me after turning fifty, that fifty was great. He said it was the year he turned forty that was the worst. He said he came down with some mysterious illness that left him unable to leave his couch for weeks. He said he thought he was dying. I rolled my eyes at him because we had that kind of friendship where I could roll my eyes at him and I just assumed he was being dramatic. Sort of like when a man has a cold kind of drama. I was insistent that forty was going to be amazing. I mean look at how well I take care of myself! Just the yoga alone should make forty feel like the new twenty.
Then I bent over to put shoes on after a yoga class and I couldn't get back up. This seemed to start a ball rolling for weekly doctor visits, starting with the chiropractor, then there was my women's health visit and a couple of dentist appointments. Finally last week, I got around to getting a blood draw so I could follow up with my doctor about my cholesterol, which I talked to him about yesterday. For the last year I have been taking two fish oil pills a day. I stopped cooking with ghee and I don't put cheese on my tacos on Tuesdays. As a result my triglycerides went from 294 to 303. Yup. It went no where. Except up a little. Though my doctor said that wasn't a significant increase. Because there was no change, he said I could stop taking the fish oil and start taking Fenofibrate. He also mentioned maybe doing a scan of my heart in six months if the Fenofibrate doesn't seem to be working.
My doctor said that when he sees high triglycerides in patients, there's usually a family history. When he asks me about family history, I have to shake my head and say "I don't know". I don't know specifically. At least three of my extended family members in Mississippi have had some sort of bi-pass, double bi-pass surgery. I just figured that this probably had something to do with their diets. There were many visits where I didn't see a vegetable on the table that wasn't gray green and swimming in butter with bits of pork floating around it. Turns out, their diet for sure may not be helping, but it's not entirely the reason for their heart problems. That's just my mom's side of the family. I seriously have very little specifics regarding the health history of my dad's side of the family. My paternal grandfather died from lung cancer, but he was a smoker. My paternal grandmother died from complications from type II diabetes and old age. This is the same woman who regularly ate a thick slice of poundcake, toasted with butter on it for breakfast. Type II diabetes was not a surprise.
So while my family has talked about heart disease and diabetes as in "hey, so and so went in for bi-pass surgery today", they have failed to mention specifics. If cholesterol shows up elevated in a blood test, they have high cholesterol. I've learned that we can't just say high cholesterol because even though triglycerides are not a cholesterol, they get lumped in with the cholesterol. I have made this mistake as well. My cholesterol levels are fine. In fact, my HDL (good) cholesterol is near perfect. Triglycerides are a different fat. They are fats that are converted from unused carbohydrates. It's what happens to those calories you eat, but don't burn and they can lead to heart disease, not to mention that high triglycerides fall into a group of metabolic syndromes associated with dementia and Alzheimers. Here's what makes things interesting. I do not have a super rich carbohydrate laced diet, nor one that is high in fats. I do not eat more calories than I burn. In fact, most days I barely eat enough calories at all. I exercise. That wheel of fat around my belly that I never seem able to get rid of is just a genetic predisposition to hold onto unnecessary triglycerides.
So I'll take my Fenofibrate because it specifically targets triglycerides. Maybe I'll actually finally lose that wheel of fat I'm always complaining about. I don't know what I expected out of age forty really. Maybe more confidence in this body. Maybe a more laze fair attitude. For some reason I didn't think about the physical side of forty, just the mental side of things. Turns out forty is going to be the year of preventative maintenance. It's the year I start taking a prescription to prevent heart disease and dementia even though those things sound like something someone in their mid fifties should be more concerned about. Well, I've always been ahead of the game and early for everything. Ten minutes early is on time. I still believe that forty is awesome.