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Check Your Blood

I realize my title is morbid. But when was the last time you had your blood drawn and analyzed? Do you know what your hormone levels are? Do you know if you have any deficiencies? Can any of your ailments be attributed to something that you might be able to figure out from a simple blood test? I think so.

In business it’s said that things that are tracked and measured improve. Does tracking your weight and blood pressure tell you enough about your health? I don’t think so.

It would seem to make logical sense that at any of your annual physical exams that your doctor might run a basic blood panel, see what your baseline is year over year, and make recommendations or notice changes as they happen. I haven’t talked to anyone who has tracked their health like this, nor has it ever been a part of my regular examinations.

Here is why I’m so fired up about this:

I had blood clots in my legs in December. I visited the ER. I visited the vein doctors. I had a problem with my BLOOD. No blood was ever drawn. I asked to have them look at my blood. I had a strong feeling that these clots were somehow tied to hormones. They said I was young, otherwise healthy and that it was probably a fluke and that if it happened again they might consider running a panel. It happened again – and they didn’t.

I continued to feel like crap. My veins felt like they were going to burst or fall apart on the inside of my legs. But my veins looked healthy on the ultrasound – so oh well. Carry on. Until I decided to see an “Integrative” doctor who actually looks at what’s going on with the makeup of your blood.

He ordered labs, I did spit tests, we talked about my body, what I eat, my family. And guess what – a simple blood test came back and told me that my estrogen levels were WAY OVER what they should be. Guess what causes blood clots in a lot of instances? Estrogen.

So my doctor prescribed some compounded progesterone and overnight my legs felt better. Of course alongside that I’ve also got some supplements to support the overall plan.

In addition to that we uncovered a couple other areas that could use some improving. My doctor recommended a cleanse and that I go gluten free to get out ahead of some of the tendencies he could see developing in my blood along side my family history.

In DAYS I feel much better.

I called my friend who’s been dealing with blood clots and not feeling quite right for the past 2 years (basically since she had her last child). She’s seen all the same kind of doctors that I have and heard the same things that I did with no improvement. And guess what – not one doctor has run a comprehensive blood panel on her either.

Why don’t they?

Maybe it’s because health insurance policies won’t cover them. Maybe health insurance companies don’t care about the long term health and preventative care of their customers because their customers aren’t loyal to them. The average policy is held only for 4 years. So why would they invest in your health 20 years down the line?

Maybe it’s because doctors get little to no training in nutrition while in medical school. They get training in diseases, injuries and medications. It’s shocking to look at their deficit in knowledge when it comes to nutrients and deficiencies, what they cause and how to deal with them.

The Point

My overarching point is that we need to be an active participant in our health care. That we need to be as educated as possible about the right kinds of questions to ask our doctors, about nutrition and about what we put in our bodies when it is prescribed to us. And even more importantly – we need to do this for our children.

My second point is the same that I started with. Things that can be tracked and measured over time can improve. Or at the very least tell you something about what’s going on in your body.

So what does your medical history say about you? Are you paying enough attention? Or are you going to be blindsided by a disaster that could have been avoided had you expected more from the broken system that we have.

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Comments (9)

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  3. Erica Fehrman 02/02/2011 at 12:22 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing your experience! Based on my family’s medical history, I’m guessing it’s just a matter of time before I’ll feel wiggety-whack and need to figure out why. I’ll be sure to demand a blood test.

  4. Erin Oltmanns 02/01/2011 at 7:54 pm

    In my life I’ve seen a fantastic example of advocating for a patient (My MIL for my FIL when he had a stroke and subsequent illnesses/injuries) and I’ve seen a really poor example. Based on the difference, I’m a total pain in the ass when it comes to medical stuff for me and my family. If I have to stand up and growl, I will.

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  6. Sunny 02/01/2011 at 1:34 pm

    I’ve actually asked for this. Was told by my primary care physician that it was cost prohibitive, insurance companies don’t like paying for them but they would cover individual tests (thyroid, vitamin D, bruising disorder, etc.). It would have cost several hundred dollars out of pocket. Using the “young and relatively healthy” argument, I passed.

    It’s just one of many issues with our current healthcare system.

  7. Destri 02/01/2011 at 1:10 pm

    Wow. Isn’t it sad? And one test to figure it all out.

    I just had a friend pass away last month. 34 three young children and a husband who has already suffered severe head trauma. She had a blood clot.

    Me thinks I will get an appointment.

  8. Kelly 02/01/2011 at 1:08 pm

    You should be fired up! It’s infuriating to have to be your own advocate when you aren’t feeling well.

    I am grateful I had an experience at 17 that allowed me to take control of my health, and understand that a doctor doesn’t always=healer.

    I’ve been gluten free for several months so feel free to bug me if you have questions!

  9. Carina Wytiaz 02/01/2011 at 1:07 pm

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone say to me, “I knew they needed to do X, but they talked me out of it.” You are the only advocate you have, you have to fight for yourself.