Monday, December 1, 2008

Barton checkups

unpublished Oct. 08 Tahoe Mt. News column

By Kathryn Reed

For someone who doesn’t like doctors, I booked two medical appointments the same week. This is huge – especially since it didn’t involve annual poking or squeezing.
I did freak out the woman doing the blood draw at Barton’s Express Lab when I told her I tend to faint around needles. Her colleague came to her rescue. Neither could find a vein in my writing arm, so to the left they went.
I don’t know yet if my cholesterol is OK, but I didn’t faint. Hopefully, I won’t fall over when I get the results.
The wellness panel costs $40. It includes 23 lab tests, including a chemistry panel and hemogram. Draws for the rest of 2008 are on Oct. 18, Oct. 21, Nov. 15, Nov. 18, Dec. 16 and Dec. 20. Call (530) 543-5855 for an appointment.
Later that week I went to Barton University on Emerald Bay Road for one of the free quarterly checkups.
Alicia took me behind a screen to look for any signs of skin cancer. She asks questions, looks at anything I think is suspicious. She took a peak round my chest, back, face and hairline. Nothing to worry about.
She said the black speck I recently noticed on my neck isn’t anything to worry about until it grows a bit. My sister, who is a nurse practitioner and until this summer worked in an oncology office, said it wouldn’t hurt to get a full head to toe check from a dermatologist. It’s on my proverbial list of things to do.
Back at Barton, Carla was my next medical expert. She works for Dr. Kyle Swanson, who was called into emergency surgery just before I arrived. I told Carla about my right knee that has been hurting since ratcheting up my cycling routine during the summer. When I was 20 I put it through a car stereo. I’ve never had surgery on it and only on occasion do I feel it skiing or playing tennis. Cycling has been a different story.
Carla said I could have arthritis and cartilage may have built up. Surgery would clean it up. She said I could get an injection. We all know how I feel about needles. Knives give me that same fuzzy feeling. She then suggested Aleve for pain. I can do that.
With shoes off and blue booties on, I sauntered over to Suzanne. She used an ultrasound device on my right ankle to test the bone density of my whole body. I’m above average and a low risk for osteoporosis – at least at what was nearly age 43.
Dr. William Cottrell went over the results with me. He explained that bone is my bank and that when I start early menopause I will withdraw from that bank every day. He was adamant that I should start taking vitamin D supplements.
“Vitamin D is the new hormone. Think of it that way,” he said.
The next station had me on my back. Ken, Romie and Karen, all registered nurses, took my blood pressure for the peripheral arterial disease scan. People who have PAD are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
It’s normal for one side to have a higher blood pressure than the other. Sure enough, my left arm and left leg registered 118, while the right side was 104 both times. The experts said I am not at risk for PAD.
The screenings amount to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars worth of free tests. About 170 people were seen in September. Reservations are necessary.
The next one will be Nov. 21. So far diabetes and sleep disorders are part of the panel. Call (530) 543-5537 to make an appointment.

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