Swimming through fluorescent illuminated water, the angel fish, guppies, and other fish Dan couldn’t identify, seemed serene enough. And why not, thought Dan. Dr. Stern made sure their meals were delivered, their tank cleaned, their water temperature regulated, and they had no predators. No moray eels named Bob lurking in dark holes, ready to tear into their flesh.
He would deal with Bob later. Time now to relax, read a magazine, maybe People en Espanol. Jesus, relentless media trash. He reached for his Blackberry, but his hand returned without it. No, not emails. Why was he so nervous? He never liked doctors. And this doctor scared him. Dan had Googled metabolic syndrome and read about the complications of diabetes – the loss of sight, loss of limbs, heart attacks – and these images lingered now. This line of thought was unproductive. Better to relax.
He sat back in the chair and scanned his body. His attention settled on his ribcage; it was frozen in place, and he was barely breathing. He sensed the quality of energy locked in his ribs. It was fear. Fear of dying. He could hear Michele’s voice from the mp3 she had sent him. “Never mind what it’s about, just experience it as a constellation of sensations.” He did. “Now, let a sense of ease enter your body and breathing, as you smile into and dissolve any physical tension.” He did. “Now let yourself rest in the vast space – both inside you and outside.” He felt his breath begin to take up more space in his ribs and back. His chest and belly softened. The website photos of gangrenous toes and amputees appeared and dissolved. He opened his eyes and with a soft focus, took in more of the waiting room. The magazines on the tables, the fish tank, the paintings on the walls, the other patients, and the receptionists were simply there, without comment or association from Dan’s mind.
“Will you come with me, please?”
The nurse was businesslike as she recorded his blood pressure and weight. She led Dan down a hall to an exam room where he waited for the doctor. Mercifully, she didn’t require him to disrobe and wrap himself in a blue paper gown.
Doctor Stern breezed through the door with Dan’s chart in hand. He shook Dan’s hand with a firm grip, just a millimeter short of crushing. This guy’s fit, thought Dan. Dr. Stern sat in a chair opposite him, looked squarely into his eyes, and asked how he’d been since his last appointment.
“No symptoms. I’ve been exercising and for the most part, eating well. What does the blood work show?”
“First, I’m glad to see that you’ve lost eight pounds. That’s excellent for ten weeks. Your blood pressure is down too, 132 over 80. That’s very good. And your blood work has moved in the right direction, as well. Your triglycerides are 145, and your HDL, that’s the one that’s supposed to be high, is high enough at 45. This is very good news. What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been working out on an elliptical machine, cutting out the junk food and the beer. I’m meditating and trying to work shorter, smarter hours.” As he spoke, he wondered how much the doctor was listening. As a test, he could have slipped into his report “eating muskrat halves in heavy syrup,” just to see if the doctor’s expression changed, but there seemed little fun to be had here.
“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep it up. How do you feel?”
“I feel like I’m getting my life back.”
“Dan, you keep moving the numbers in this direction and you’ll live to a ripe old age. Any questions or concerns?”
“Great. I’d like to see you again in six months. I’ll leave a form for your blood work at the front desk. Get your blood drawn two weeks before your next appointment.”
The doctor rose, shook Dan’s hand, gathered the file, pivoted left, and vanished through the now closing door.
As he left the medical building, Dan, with apparently a lot more miles left in him, felt the sun warm his face. Standing by his car, he paused for a few breaths and caught a trace of the sea on the breeze from the bay.
Have you made life-style changes that have turned around a difficult medical condition? Have you coached people through life-style changes. Please comment.
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Dragons at Work
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