Monday, February 11, 2008

Health update

Although I've been doing reasonably well in my healthy eating and exercising programs, I have decided to join a specialised program run by the Royal Women's Hospital.  Despite my successes, I still have a long way to go and time is ticking away.  And I tick all the boxes for potential problems in the future.  My mother had diabetes and both she and her mother died of sudden heart attacks (my grandmother, I might add, weighed only 45kg when she died but had a cholesterol reading of 12, which shows that weight isn't everything; I'm overweight but have a healthy cholesterol reading).  Despite my weight, I'm quite healthy at the moment but I want to give myself the best chance in life.

So for $300, I get access to a 4-month program which includes twice-weekly exercise and educational meetings and the support of a team of dietitians, counselors, nurse practitioners and doctors who specialise in women with weight-related health problems.  I still have to do all the work, but it looks like I'll have a lot of extra support along the way.

At this stage, I would like to say a special thank-you to the private specialist I am no longer seeing who over the past 4 months only had to make one phone call or print out one letter to hook me into this affordable program but never did, despite telling me at every consultation that I needed to lose weight and despite her practice supposedly being an official partner in this program.  Her over-worked and under-resourced colleagues in the public sector - who had never met me before last Tuesday - went out of their way to address fill the gap in care. 

I don't know if I've just been lucky, but I am constantly being surprised by the level of professionalism and genuine care I've encountered from health professionals randomly assigned to me in the public sector, despite obvious shortages in both staffing and resources.  And I've been disappointed by the attitude of some of the private sector specialists I've encountered. They may be technically competent but I sometimes wonder if they actually care about their patients, or at least me.  I'll take a doctor who gives a stuff working in a dilapidated consulting room any day, over one who's obviously in it for the money but offers architecturally designed furniture.

Anyway, as part of doing this program at the Royal Women's I had to do a glucose tolerance test (check for pre-diabetes) over the weekend – one of the most nauseating experiences yet to date.  I came out from the dietitian on Tuesday with a little booklet that said, amongst other things:
  • Never skip breakfast
  • Avoid sugary drinks
  • Have a glucose tolerance test

To do the test I had to fast (ie: skip breakfast), then drink a revolting syrupy lemonade-type glucose drink (ie: as high sugar as they come), then have blood samples taken every hour. OK…

By lunchtime, I was feeling giddy and nauseous from the sugar and lack of real food and just wanted a nice multigrain roll to nibble on.

"Given that most people who take this test are at high risk of diabetes, aren't you worried they might end up in a coma?" I asked the nurse as I gagged on the glucose.

"That's why we do a urine sample first," she explained.
The test itself was bad enough, but it wasn't helped that we had almost a revolt in the pathology centre due to the queuing system getting mucked up.  Those of us doing the glucose test had been there since 8.30am and had to have samples of blood taken at pretty strict time intervals, leading to accusations of queue jumping every time the nurse took one of us in as we didn't have queue numbers
(instead we each had a personal alarm clock that could be heard half a suburb away to announce when the next blood sample needed to be taken).  Then there was the sheer joy of having to listen to every single elderly person bringing in their bowel screening samples checking with the nurse that they had done their test and packaged it properly…

Apologies to anyone who thought that last point was way too much information.  I totally agree.

I should have the results when I next see the doctors on Thursday.  Meanwhile I shall knit away.

1 comment:

2paw said...

Good luck with your new programme. Glad someone was looking out for you!! We don't have anything like that here. The hospital here has just made changes so now I have to go to general pathology for my blood tests. with no appointment, and a bazillion people. Thank goodness I have my knitting!!!