Anyway, so I sat there on the bed, kicking my feet like a two year old, confident that everything would turn out ok. After all, I worked out twice in January. That certainly had to help lower my blood pressure and whatever else exercising allegedly helps with. There was nothing to worry about. Basically, I was there to have the doctor hand me a lollipop and draw a smiley face on a Popsicle stick—one of the many benefits of still going to a pediatrician even when you’re middle-aged. I bet your doctor doesn’t offer that service! Well, imagine my surprise when the doctor looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Your cholesterol sucks.” That wasn’t such a huge shock. They’ve been saying that since I was four. However, what she said next made my head spin as if I were that girl in “The Exorcist”: “If you don’t make some changes now, I’d say you have about ten to fifteen years before you have a stroke or something.”
A stroke or something!!!
Honestly, as I sit here buttering my bagel while frying chicken and drinking whole milk, I can’t even begin to explain how this may have happened. I mean, could it have been the bacon double cheeseburgers with the extra mayo? Was it the weekly Meat Lovers pizza with extra meat and extra cheese? Or was it the scrambled eggs that I eat every morning with the extra side of eggs? Please don’t tell me that it was the deep fried lettuce or my daily assortment of cakes and pies. Of course not! I refuse to believe it. My favorite foods would never betray me. I asked my doctor for her credentials because I was sure there had to have been some form of mistake. She’d obviously gotten it wrong. I wanted to speak to a manager. After finding out that she was the manager, I asked to speak to her mom. Someone was going to pay!!!
After the guilty-of-high-cholesterol verdict set in, my mind began to race. I mean, I’m only 32 in human years. Why has my body forsaken me? I always thought high cholesterol wouldn’t be something I’d have to worry about until I was old and decrepit—you know, like when I turn 33. Although my doctor’s mother explained that my doctor is still a few credits shy of her bachelor’s degree from a partially accredited medical school called Super Walmart, I decided to take her warning seriously. I mean, if something happened to me, who would pay off my student loans? Who would feed my fish? Who would finally vacuum my floors? And, most importantly, who would write my blog? Now that Stephenie Meyer and J. K. Rowling are done with their little “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” projects, I’m sure they’re just waiting in the wings for my demise so that they can take over my blog. Never!
And then I shared the news with my mother.
Honestly, I don’t think anyone was happier to hear about my pending demise than she was. Because she dropped the phone when I told her about my crisis, I assumed that she had become overwhelmed with the idea of losing the only child she had fully paid for with her credit card. Instead, I heard her and my father in the background giving each other high fives. Before I fully realized what was going on, there was the sound of a champagne cork being popped. Apparently my mother had been expecting this news for a while now and she’d finally won the bet over my father who had believed my eating habits weren’t really that bad. When she eventually made it back to the phone, she said, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, Mikey” before yelling to my father that he had two weeks to come up with the money, or else.
If that wasn’t bad enough, I made the mistake of sharing the news with some of my coworkers. Why on earth did I do that? Now, whenever I try to eat anything, at least twelve people remind me of how whatever I’m eating isn’t good for me. You should hear them. “Michael, is that a raisin? You know that’s bad for your cholesterol,” or “Are you drinking water again? You know that’s just going to raise your cholesterol,” they say. Have you ever had a whole department shake their heads in disapproval and wag their fingers at you because you ate two strawberries for lunch knowing that you already had bad cholesterol? So far, the only things they’ve allowed me to eat without giving me a lecture are used Post-it Notes and an occasional staple. Everything else is absolutely off limits.
In order to try to live for at least another few years or so until my book comes out, I’ve began looking at the nutrition label on everything—even my clothes. What this has taught me is that there is basically nothing you can eat other than grass that isn’t bad for you in some way, shape or form. If it’s low in cholesterol, then it is high in sodium. If it’s low in sodium, then it is high in sugar. If it’s low in sugar, then it’s high in trans fats. If it is low in cholesterol, sugar, sodium, and trans fats, then it tastes so bad that you’ll want to fling yourself off the nearest tall building in effort to put yourself out of your misery.
So, here’s the plan, instead of sentencing myself to a life of eating nothing but cardboard and tree bark, I’m going to try to replace some of my bad eating habits for better ones. For example, at lunch, instead of eating a cheesesteak, I’ve been eating a bowl of cream of wheat or soup. Sometimes, instead of having something fried for dinner, I’ll have a bowl of cereal. And when I do decide to splurge and eat a donut or piece of cake, I’m trying to only eat half, or a portion smaller than I would normally eat. Another tactic that works for me is taking two bites of something and then throwing the rest in the trash really quickly before I throw it down my throat instead. So far, I’ve only gone in the trash one time to retrieve a piece of cake that was so good that I was ok with the puddle of soda it had landed in and the few pieces of gum that had gotten stuck to it. I don’t know who those pieces of gum originally belonged to, but I can confirm that those individuals and I are now forever connected. I mean, when you think about it, how cool is that? Do you chew gum? Have you ever had a red piece that you discarded after it removed the smell of garlic and onions from your breath? Really? Then maybe we’re connected!!!
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