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The Good Stuff
Article
Good Heart
by B. A. Llewellyn
Length: 661 words

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Good Heart

My doctor informed me that my blood test had come back.  He picked up a sheet of paper, frowned, and shook his head as he perused my blood's evaluation.  He then passed the test results to me, while pointing out, with words and gestures, that my cholesterol reading was 8 millimoles per litre.

I rarely see my joke-loving doctor wearing a frown and shaking his head.   I knew something was wrong.  Another big hint in the "something is wrong" category was the word "ouch!", handwritten with a emphasising exclamation mark, jumping out from the otherwise type-written page.  "Ouch!" and the already mentioned number "8" were coupled together.

I guessed that "8" was not a good number to have received in this sort of test.  I guessed that a hand written "ouch! on a type-written medical page was not a positive signal.

"What does 'ouch' mean?"  I asked.

A Bit of A Shock

Dr Nick, who has never learnt the fine art of mincing words, informed me, "It means that if you don't lower that count back to the safe area of 5.5 millimoles per litre, you could die."

"Oh." I said, before sinking into a stunned silence.  My father had died of heart disease when he was only a few years older than my present age.  I was looking down the barrel of a similar fate.

Dr Nick, being a doctor and feeling the need to do some doctoring, then advised me to start taking tablets to lower my cholesterol.   I was to take them forever.  I would be dependent on them ... forever.

Forever Is A Long Time

I didn't like the idea of being dependent on tablets.  I don't like being dependent, and I don't like tablets.  I don't like hearing the words "medical condition" and "forever" in the same sentence.

"How about we give me 6 months of exercise and improved diet before I start on a life-time course of tablets?" I asked.

"Of course", said Dr Nick, "You're not dead yet so you're unlikely to be dead within the next six months."  Dr. Nick's big smile had returned.  "Anyway it's your life so you do what you feel is right."

I go to Dr Nick because he respects my personal rights ... and he's a good doctor ... and he has that great sense of humour.  He looked like a mischievous, little boy as he waved me goodbye with these parting words, "Now don't come back dead.  It would ruin my reputation."

Time Passes

I didn't die.  I thought about, and researched, my situation.  I started walking everyday.  I cut out dairy products and fatty foods.  I studied labels, and stopped buying the obviously "bad" and started buying the obviously "right".  I ate well.  I drank lots of water.  I changed my vegetable oil to extra virgin olive oil.  My wine of choice was suddenly red.  I did Deep Breathing and Relaxation exercises and meditations every day.  I became relatively fit, in a relatively short period of time.

I'm Not Dead Yet.

Dr. Nick was already grinning as I walked into the consulting room.  He immediately asked,
"Are you trying to put me out of business?"

I had no idea what he was talking about, but was immediately presented with my latest blood test results.  My cholesterol count was 5.5 millimoles per litre.  I was "safe".

Dr. Nick ensured I understood the necessity of maintaining my healthier lifestyle and, then, brought me up to date on the happier aspects of his own life.

When our time was done, Dr. Nick wished me well and dressed his eyes in a winked twinkle while saying, "So I guess you're going to live a bit longer after all. ... Just make sure you don't get run over by a bus ... or bitten by a snake ... or taken by a shark."

I was aware, as a continuing litany of potential disasters assailed my back, that it was just as well Dr. Nick and I share a similar sense of fun.  We're both very aware that a good laugh is very good for the heart.

Beginning in February 1976 your assistance benefits will be discontinued ...
Reason: it has been reported to our office that you expired on January 1, 1976. 
Excerpt from a letter, Illinois Department of Public Aid

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 Unison of Many Hearts/Hearty-Har Laugh
Unison of Many Hearts/Hearty-Har Laugh
Greve, Gerrit
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