On this day after Valentine’s Day, a holiday where we are expected to wear red, buy flowers, tell our significant others how much we love them, and present everything in a heart shape, don’t be decieved, this blog is not about the hearts we cut out of contruction paper and glue on doilies, and although I love my husband and my boys very much, it’s not about them either. I have been putting off writing this one for awhile. It is not something I ever wanted to do. I avoided it for as long as I could. But I’m going to write this today for the person who needs to hear it.
For my entire adult life, I have had high cholesterol, like high risk for stroke and heart attack high. But I was young, I was in my 20s and 30s and who has a heart attack or stroke in their 20s or 30s(yeah I know, it happens, but I was content believing that would never happen to me, ignorance is bliss right?) An Adrenal fatigue diagnosis at 30 had me seeking help of functional medicine and holistic doctors. As we worked to heal my body from AF we also worked on my cholesterol. I am not lying when I say I have taken every supplement and every supplement combination under the sun to treat high cholesterol, you name it, I have probably taken it at some point in the last ten years. I have had doctors who say it is linked to diet so I’ve tried a vegan lifestyle (I attribute this in part to my AF-more because of my lack of knowledge concerning nutrition at the time than the vegan lifestyle itself). I have had doctors who have linked it to genetics as we continued to pursue holistic healing. I love the holistic approach. I believe that diet, exercise, vitamins, deep breathing, self care, and more are all great things no matter what your health status is.
In the last year I needed to find a new primary care doctor, again, something I was used to doing and despised as it meant starting all over again. But since this was in the midst of Covid, the doctor was only doing telehealth, so we talked on the phone to give him my general history and then he sent me for labs. He was alarmed that at 39 my cholesterol was that high. I shrugged it off like, “yeah, yeah, I know, I’ve been working on it for ten years now.” He suggested a statin. I resisted. I wanted another way. Any way. I did not want to rely on a medication for the rest of my life. Does anyone else ever feel like this? I wanted to be in control of my body, and I did not want a statin in it. My mom was on a statin for 30 years, until she passed. My dad has been on a statin a long time too. And for some reason, I saw that as a negative thing. I saw it as people need statins if they aren’t healthy, and I barely ever even have sugar so I am super healthy and my cholesterol is just a number. The doctor heard what I was saying and asked what I wanted to do. I told him I wasn’t ready for a statin, that I wanted to try other things first. He was very kind in his words and his delivery, reminding me, that I had tried other ways, and this was clearly a genetic issue. And while the next part may not seem so gentle or kind, I think it is what I needed to hear,” the goal is to keep you on this side of the ground.” Cue epic mic drop.
And so, I agreed to try it, and my mind was at complete peace with this decision. In fact, I became excited to start, and eager to see positive changes. I want to be here a long time with my husband and boys, and I would be naive after all that time to believe that just because I eat well and exercise, I was healthy enough.
Over the last year, we have seen my cholesterol improve significantly. We have had to tweak things in my diet and raise my dosage a few times, but, I am happy, no-thrilled, no-overjoyed, to report that for the first time in my adult life, my cholesterol is normal! With proper diet(including switching to vegan cheeses and mayo), good exercise, a statin, and a caring doctor, my body is healthy.
I wrote this to encourage anyone out there who may be struggling with their own matters of the heart. No matter what it is… If a person has diabetes, they need the proper pump, insulin and medications to live. If a person has kidney disease, they need dialysis and other medications to live. If a person has cancer, they need the proper treatment to live. The same is true for those with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, we can try all the holistic fixes, but at the end of the day, if they are not fixing the problem and medication can, there is no shame in that. We can even go a step farther here and chat mental illness; if your brain is not working correctly, if you are struggling to get out of bed in the morning or stricken with anxiety or thoughts of self-harm, you should treat your body with the same care as if you had any other ailment, with medication. I don’t believe medication should be the be all end all in any of these situations. In fact, I think it is good to try a holistic approach or even a partially holistic approach. I think medication along with proper diet, vitamins, exercise, and self care can properly treat the whole person. I took medication for my cholesterol and ran or walked daily and ate healthy and got a proper amount of rest. Before that, I did all of the things except take the medication and my heart was not healthy. There is no perfect formula here. But there should also be no shame or no stigma when your body is doing things you don’t want it to do. Get the help that your body needs and treat it well. One of my favorite bible verses is 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. I have this one body, one, how am I going to treat it while I am alive? How are you going to treat yours? Is there one thing that you could start doing differently today that could set you on a path to a healthier body? Are you going to get out for a walk or a run? Maybe take the extra time to prepare a healthy meal or snack? Will you stretch and do deep breathing when you are feeling stressed? Are you going to remember to take your medication or vitamins even if it means setting a reminder on your phone? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.