“Hi Spartan Grandpa, it’s your Kaiser doctor’s office. Please call us back.”
I got the message, panicked briefly, and called back right away.
X-RAYS AND CALCIUM
First some background. Neck x-rays, like any x-rays show shadows of things inside your body. The more dense the material, the more it shows up on an x-ray. Bones show up pretty well because they are obviously more dense than soft tissue and, as I was told by the x-ray tech, bones contain Calcium, and Calcium shows up in an x-ray. When you go in to get a neck x-ray, though they are directing the x-rays at the bones, there are other things that show up. In my neck x-rays, one of my carotid arteries showed up indicating that it had some calcification. When I went to visit my Kaiser doctor I told her that the x-ray Dr. mentioned that I had calcification in my left carotid artery so she ordered an ultrasound of the carotid arteries to determine whether there was any restricted blood flow or potential problems. On Tuesday I went to the radiology clinic at Kaiser and they tested the blood flow in my carotid arteries.
The test involves directing an ultrasound beam into the blood flow and measuring the exact blood flow. It’s pretty cool because you can hear the flow when the tech turns up the volume on hie tester. Since the technician is not allowed to discuss results with me, he told me that I’d have to wait for the doctor to give me the results.
THE “RESULTS” PHONE CALL
The next day, I got the phone call from Kaiser saying that they wanted me to call them back as soon as I could. When I called them back was a little worried because usually when a doctor request a call back it’s not good news. I called back and got a hold of the doctors office, gave them my medical record number, and he read to me a message from my doctor “your carotid artery ultrasound results are normal you have no decreased flow and no narrowing of your carotid arteries”. That is fantastic news. With all the other things going on with my and the associated pains in different parts of my body, I was thrilled to get news that my arteries are in good shape and with the results of my blood work from a month ago indicating that my cholesterol level is down quite a bit from five years ago mostly because of diet and exercise, I was thrilled.
TESTS TESTS HATED TEST
Taking tests in school or in the doctors office is no fun. Maybe it’s because of the anticipation of a bad result or the feeling of not being prepared, either way, they are not fun. It seems the same whether it’s a math test, an English test, or a blood test, waiting for the results is unsettling. After all the worrying about the results, once you get them you know where you stand. You know where you need to improve or you can see where your efforts have paid off. After all is said and done, knowing is much better than not knowing because it gives you better direction. Since I’ve received good results on my blood tests and my artery tests, I can pretty much be sure that if I stay on my same diet plan that I will be able to maintain these good levels for a long time.
With the test results indicating osteoarthritis in my left hip, I know what movements I need to avoid and that has been a big help to me. Prior to knowing what was actually wrong with me I was fighting the pain and trying to push through it thinking that improvement was a matter of stretching and roller work. I now know that it is a mechanical issue and there are specific ways to deal with it.
Let’s enjoy the journey.