Friday, April 22, 2011

Cholesterol, Lab work, and Celebratory Bagels

Each year, we repeat lab work to test for all kinds of fun stuff that goes along with diabetes. A blood draw and urine specimen is taken and looks for things like thyroid function, cholesterol levels, kidney function, and celiac disease. Unfortunately when your immune system is already on the fritz, it can lead to other issues as well.

Last year we discovered Leah has an under active thyroid, so she takes synthroid everyday and we do a blood draw periodically to make sure her medicine is working. An inactive thyroid can lead to unstable blood sugars, weight loss, and other annoying symptoms like hair loss and being cold all the time. So we need to keep up with it.

We also discovered she has high cholesterol. This worries me even more, given that she's only 6 and is already dealing with it. People with diabetes are automatically at an increased risk for heart disease, so high cholesterol is pretty serious.We already ate pretty well, and she's a normal active kid, but we made some improvements where we could. We rarely eat red meat and almost always skip the egg yolks. We buy lowfat dairy, stay away from lunch meat more than we used to, and use healthy oils instead of butter when possible.

At the recent diabetes expo we attended, I was surprised to learn a few things about cholesterol. For instance, I knew diabetics were at an increased risk for high cholesterol, but I didn't know why. Basically, high blood sugar means fat and sugar will attach to your body's cells easier and longer, and that means more fat and triglycerides circulating in your blood and sticking to your arteries, which means higher cholesterol. (at least that's my very, very basic understanding). We also learned the guidelines for healthy eating  in regards to cholesterol. A person with a healthy cholesterol level should eat no more than 300mg daily, while a person with diabetes or a person with an already high cholesterol level should eat no more than 200mg daily. The funny thing is, when I total most of Leah's "normal" days she's usually only around 30mg! (One exception to this is eating out--always way worse in regards to cholesterol, and everything else of course, too).

It doesn't help that I have a history of high cholesterol in my family, and my number has not budged the last few years regardless of diet and exercise. So unfortunately Leah's already got a few strikes against her. I hope we see a better number, but I have a feeling this might be a constant struggle.

In regard to the blood draw....you might think being exposed to needles on a daily basis would make you less sensitive to having a big one stuck in your vein, but we've seen the opposite. I mean, who wants to sign up for that, especially a kid who deals with this crap all the time anyway? And typically, the person drawing the blood gives you a snotty "Oh, I thought she'd be used to this!" I often have to resist the urge to tell that person off....this time was a little bit better. There were a few tears as they did the needle poke, but overall she did really well and we had a much deserved bagel stop afterward.

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