My breakfast this morning:
A glass of soy milk
Bottled spring water
1 hard boiled egg
1 Omega 3 fatty acid softgel
I have practiced this diet for two weeks now. My grandmother died of heart disease at age 77. My uncle died of heart disease at age 58. My mother died of heart disease at age 68.
Afrocity will not die of heart disease. What do I have going for myself that they did not?
1. Coming to terms that heart disease is a problem in my family is the first step.
Unfortunately, the rest of my family is still in denial. I began seeing a cardiologist in 2005. I was the youngest person in the office and the doctor sort of laughed at me but I would rather be embarrassed than dead. My grandmother’s first heat attack was at age 35. She would later have another attack 17 years later, right in front of me when I was 4 years old.
I was home alone with her watching Sesame Street and she fell to the floor, dragging herself into the kitchen for the phone. The rotary dial clunker was wall mounted. She could not reach it and neither could I. Feeling helpless, I tried to run for help but grandmother had put the chain latchkey lock on the door and I could not unlock it.
Overwhelmed with fear, I crawled into a corner where I could not see her. I thought she was dying and it was my fault. Hours later my mother awakened me, grandmother had been taken to a hospital and I had slept through the entire ordeal.
2. I will make a special effort to eat healthier. Cut down on red meat, add more soy products, water, omega.Typical African diets in my family consisted of meals that were high in saturated fats and sodium. By comparison my diet has always shunned the greens and corn bread feasts that my mother loved so much. Even as a child, she found me to be a picky eater- favoring vegetables over fruit and eating noticeably smaller portions than my relatives. My uncle would make a culinary concoction of fat back, greens and cabbage in a huge dutch oven. You could see the film of yellow coagulated grease floating on top of his artery clogging masterpiece.
3. They had government health care. I do not.
When ill, the very decision of whether or not to seek medical assistance was question of whether or not you were at death’s door. My family did not trust doctors to keep them alive. Medical practitioners were to be feared and avoided at all cost. In the end, they would all wind up too soon on an autopsy table. I cannot say that I blamed them. Welfare health care was a nightmare for me. I was poked and prodded without much explanation about what was happening to my body. I cannot remember the name or face of a single doctor I had back in those days. I can vaguely recall the sea foam green medical card my mother received each month that she would push underneath a glass window to a nurse along with her public assistance identification card. The doctors never smiled at me, one even told me to get the hell out of his office after I coughed in his face because the tongue depressor activated my gag reflex. Mother hastily walked out with me, penicillin prescription in hand.
As a college undergrad, I too noticed that I hated doctors. My counselors and college roommate helped me overcome that fear. I did not want to die of a heart attack or cancer. Looking for Marcus Welby was futile in the world of government health care I would listen to my classmates speak of wonderful relationships with their “family” doctors. There was no such MD in my life until I finally secured a job with benefits.
Doctor: So you are here because you have a cold but is everything else going okay for you? You just moved here from Texas. Did you have a family practitioner there.
Doctor: When was your last pap exam?
Afrocity: (counting in head) Five years ago.
Doctor: (frowning) We can’t have that. Let’s schedule you for one.
Doctor: I don’t use those, not many doctors do anymore. Have you’ve been tested for AIDS? HPV virus?
Doctor: Have you ever had your cholesterol checked…ever? (smiling) I am guessing that is a qualified No?
Afrocity: (silent) I have problems with gas and heartburn, they told me to take TUMS but it never helps.I go from diarrhea to constipation.
Doctor: Well let’s lets have you fully checked out. I mean the whole nine yards, blood, urine, pap smear, a physical. You need a wellness consultation and it sounds like you have IBS. Do you do breast self-exams?
Afrocity: I bee-what? No I have not done a breast exam, I have seen the charts though.
Doctor: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It comes from stress, lots of women have it. You may also be lactose intolerant but we can’t know unless we test you my dear. Go to the desk and we can get you set up for all of these fun tests. You especially are overdue for a gynecological exam.
From that visit on, I began to trust doctor’s again. For anyone interested in finding out the truth in government health care, they should speak to people like me. Those who have actually experience it. Those in Canada and the UK who know what socialized medicine is and is not. So far, I have only heard about what is wrong with insurance companies and not what is right about government health care.
This is not about a partisan victory. This is about our health which is far more important than congressmen and Barack Obama kicking sand in each other’s faces at the playground.
Autographed Letter Signed,