Health

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ScaleWay back in September, I mentioned that the Biggest Loser was a guilty pleasure of mine.

I’d originally become hooked to the show due to a pseudo celebrity crush that I had on one of the contestants — but that was three seasons ago and I’m still watching it each and every Tuesday night.

Now I’ve never been very heavy — never even hit the 200 lb mark — so I can’t really claim to be able to relate to the contestant’s demons but, thinking about it now, it’s almost funny how I became a fan of the show just as my own waistline was swelling right before my eyes.

Five “new” inches on my waist and an extra 50 or so pounds.

In the span of a year…

Yeah, I was well on my way to becoming a potential contestant…

The good news, though, is that so far in 2009, I’ve dropped nearly half of that extra weight.

No, it wasn’t a new year’s resolution.

And, no, it’s not because I’m exercising or eating right.

Please… that’s not my style.

I’ve lost the weight just by going to work everyday.

Yep, I lose weight and get paid pretty handsomely to do it. It’s as simple as that.

Could it get any better?

Actually, yes.

The weight loss is entirely due to stress…with a pinch of unhappiness too.

I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it is at work that’s suddenly (and for the past five months) taking its toll on me — no, it’s NOT the economy — but if the side effect is getting my “stick” figure back, well, I guess I shouldn’t complain…

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Green Vial of BloodYesterday morning my wife and I went on date.

We got all spiffed up — okay, I was still wearing shorts and a hat — and headed for our closest phlebotomist’s office. It was 7:30 am. Romantic so far, huh?

So we got there, signed in, and waited in the waiting room. It was nothing like the autoshop waiting room last week.

They had some James Taylor tune jamming. I was rocking out — he’s seen fire and he’s seen rain. It also looked like they had a nice magazine selection too but our names were called just as we were getting comfy.

We’re herded into this little office that has what looks like a torture device in the corner. My palms were sweaty. I mean, if you say phlebotomist really fast, doesn’t it sound like someone who performs lobotomies? Well, it does to me, and that scary chair in the corner looks like the perfect place for that sort of thing to happen.

I guess this is the part where I should let people know what a phlebotomist really is…

Phlebotomist – an individual trained to draw blood, either for laboratory tests or for blood donations.

My wife went first. She gives blood all the time and her husband wears the free t-shirts to prove it.

She hopped up on that chair and filled like 15 of those little vials all with different colored caps. Apparently the color of the cap means something to someone. Not me.

As I was waiting and trying not to look, I was sorta flexing to get some veins to pop out. Shuffling my feet a bit. Taking deep breaths. And remembering the last time I had blood drawn…

It would have been around 14 years ago, maybe even 15. I know I was still in high school at the time.

I had just had a physical with a regular physician where they ask all of those awkward questions that, quite frankly, are none of their business.

One of the final questions, and one that I was a little taken aback by because it was from left field was, “Have you ever fainted or blacked out?”Nope.

When my 45 seconds of “real doctor time” were up (it was an HMO facility), they sent me down to have blood drawn.

Remember when the actual doctor did that? Now you have to go to another office, sign in, sit and wait. Sure it saves the doctor or his nurse time, but it sure wastes a lot more of my own time. Pretty obnoxious of them to think they’re time is more important than mine… Anyway…

 I finally get in there feeling pretty good since the worst of it (the physical) is over. I sit in the chair, the woman pricks me with the needle and I fill two of those little vials. I’m done. Woo-hoo!

I get up, go out to the waiting room where my mom is waiting and we head out the front door. I’m blacking out… Done.

Now I’m sure the doctor is going to think I lied on all of my answers and the “fainting” one is the only one I was truly being honest on because it was such an odd question that caught me off guard.

After that day, I passed out a few more times. The first time was while watching a UConn basketball game with my dad on television. I got up for a second, made my way into the kitchen and THUD!

Next thing I knew, the dog was barking and my mom was freaking out wondering what was wrong with me. I havta say, the neat part about passing out is that you can take a Nestea plunge head first right into the floor and not feel a thing. Absolutely nothing.

We blew it off as I remember because, like I said, when I awoke, probably 5 seconds after it happened, I felt fine and went back to watching the basketball game.

A few weeks later it happened again. Back to the doctor.

E.T. Phone HomeThis time, I’d estimate that I got around 90 seconds worth of quality time with an honest-to-goodness real live doctor. They took all kinds of tests — I even got to wear all of those little suction cups on my chest and forehead like E.T. did when the feds captured him. I thought that was pretty cool.

I had low blood pressure, so they did most of the tests on my heart and my lungs. Didn’t make a whole lot of sense as if I were having heart issues, I probably wouldn’t have been able to run 10 miles the day before in track practice, but I had without any trouble.

In the end, there wasn’t a real solid conclusion. They prescribed me some “chill” pills to take when I was feeling stressed out (college basketball games on television were never stressful) that I pretty much never took. I wasn’t stressed.

They also told me not to get up quickly after having been seating for a length of time — a stupid request for a high school student who sits for 45 minutes and then runs to another room to sit for another 45 minutes. Repeat 3 more times.

And the last thing they told me was to avoid giving blood.

That last request was the one that I had obeyed all these years.

Until yesterday morning.

All-Star SnorkIt was my turn. I was only having one test done on my blood — a karaoke test. No, that’s not it… I just looked it up — a karyotype test. I guess it’s something to see if I’m 100 percent Smurf or if I’ve got a few Snork genes mixed in as well.

The phlebotomist lined up 4 green capped vials on the tray. FOUR?! I mean, at least it wasn’t 15, but still, I was only having one test done?! I was nervous.

Dr. Greg HouseMy wife and I agreed not to say anything in advance to the doctor — I mean, I watch House, everyone lies to their doctor, right?

And really, was this even a *real* doctor? She seemed too nice to be an actual doctor.

I was going to tough it out. And besides, I’ve eaten a lot of fast food in the past 15 years — my blood pressure should probably be considered high at this point.

She stuck me with the needle as I looked away. I asked if she was done yet? Not yet.

My wife, in the meantime, was looking at her computer screen. My karaoke test was going to cost at least $388. Ouch. I can only imagine what all of her tests are going to cost — my bad for not looking while she was in the hot seat.

I hope insurance covers most of it. Please? Is that too much to ask?

When it was over, I never even did look at my vials. I got the feeling that the phlebotomist knew I was a little touch-and-go afterwards asking if I was alright. “Yeah, I can dig it.” Okay, I didn’t actually say that, I’m not that cool, but let’s pretend I did.

We headed out to the parking lot and my wife asked if I was okay.

“I just want to sit down,” was my response. I was a little loopy.

Perhaps it was all in my head, but if I were ever made to fill one of those bags at a blood drive, there is no way I’d be able to get off of the table. No way. I was, for lack of a better term, drained.

Yes, four little vials sucked the life out of me. But a strawberry fruit-lata thing from Dunkin Donuts shortly thereafter put it all right back.

When I get the results (and the bill), I’ll keep you posted.

Anyone else do anything that exciting all before 8:00 am on Saturday?

Can You Dig It?

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