Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Annual Health Check

A week ago I went for my annual health check-up, paid for, thankfully, by my employer. Today I went back to the clinic to retrieve my results and talk to the doctor about any irregularities. I'm thankful to announce that there is nothing much out of the ordinary.

The eye test revealed that my left eye is weaker than the right and the doctor advised I get my glasses prescription updated as soon as possible. Because my right eye is doing most of the work, one eye will become much weaker than the other, he says.

Apparently I still have antibodies for Hepatitis A and C, but not for Hepatitis B. Their suggestion is a Hepatitis vaccination topup. Hepatitis is actually a common virus in Korea. I'm not fond of vaccinations, but neither do I want Hepatitis B.

The EKG showed that my heart beat is somewhat slow. If it is too slow one needs to get a pacemaker. In my case it is probably just an indication of fitness. Athletes generally have a slower heartbeat. In any case, my pulse is within the 60-70 beats per minute range, which is quite healthy. At the time of the test my pulse rate was 67.

The blood test did indicate a slightly high ESR (Erythrocite Sedimentation Rate). A high ESR is an indicator of inflammation. The doctor did not seem concerned about it at all. The liver function test also showed slightly elevated Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which is another inflammation indicator, particularly an inflammation of the muscles. LDH has four enzyme classes. The blood test I did was a general one and not specifically aimed at testing the LDH enzyme classes. The doctor said that I should wait about three to six months, then test my LDH again. Only if it is elevated for a relatively long time is it a cause for concern. Since LDH is related to muscle inflammation, it could easily just be a case of general workout related inflammation associated with my martial art training. The fact that my CRP (C-reactive protein) level, which is another inflammation indicator, is completely within the normal range, supports the doctor's lack of concern. In any case, I'll check up on my LDH levels again towards the latter part of this year.

Generally everything is working fine. I don't have any parasites, I'm HIV negative, and I do not have any other veneral (sexually transmitted) diseases. My tumor markers are all within the normal range and the ultrasound screenings of my thyroid, abdomen, kidneys, liver, and pancreas do not reveal any growths. My electrolyte levels are all normal, so are my protein levels and the lipid test shows that my cholesterol levels are good. In fact, my LDL-Cholesterol is 72! Under 100 is considered optimal. My HDL-Cholesterol is 59. Above 60 is optimal. And my Triglyceride level is well within the normal range.

So, in short, apart from needing a new pair of glasses, I'm blessedly healthy.

The doctor strongly recommended that I also have an endoscopy and colonoscopy, which are tests that are urged in Korea because of the unusually high percentage of Koreans that get stomach or intestinal cance. If something is such a pandemic within one demographic it is clearly a cultural phenomenon, probably with a dietary cause. To me it is quite obvious what the culprit is: too many salty, spicy and pickled foods; i.e. kimchi and Korea's many other unnecessarily spicy dishes. Such constant irritation of the digestive track is just begging for cancerous cysts to develop. Seeing as I do not live on a Korean diet and do not regularly eat overly spicy foods, and also seeing as I have a high fibre diet that is very low in animal produce, I don't think I am a candidate for these types of cancers. Maybe I will have a endoscopy next year—if my employer pays for it again—but otherwise I don't see a need for having such an intrusive test done. I also opted out of the X-ray scan and CT-scan that were part of the package. I don't see a reason to bombard my body with DNA-damaging radiation unnecessarily.

Ironically, I woke this morning with a pang of pain in my back. This afternoon I went to see my chiropractor. He complained that my muscles are unusually tense. He thinks it might be a relapse in my posture; I blame unconscious stress. In either case, I could benefit from better posture and stress-relief activities. I'll also go see him more often again. I quit going to the chiropractor last year around November. I saw a great improvement in my posture and the once chronic back pain I used to have disappeared—these were the very reasons I went to see him. Obviously because of these improvements I didn't see a need for the continuous expense. I guess, however, I should have continued the treatment for sometime longer, as he had suggested. It is just that other things lay claim to that part of my budget instead. Luckily I had paid in advance and so I still have a couple of pre-paid treatments remaining, which I will use up now, before I decide if I'll make my visits to the chiropractor a regular thing again or not.

Tomorrow I return to the dentist.

Goodness!, these past two weeks have been particularly focussed on health concerns. I wish you all good health, and if you haven't had a check-up in a while, I urge you to have one done. It is worth the effort.

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