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Knowing Numbers Keeps Patients on Track

Oct 10, 2017

Received a phone call from someone I know. Has not yet come in for a visit. Just called to see if she qualified to come in for a visit.

Woman, 68 years of age, denies history of diabetes, hypertension or other health problems, except being overweight. She stated, “Last year my weight was up. I went on a diet because my triglycerides were high, in the 600’s, but they came down to 140’s when I lost 30 pounds last year. I think I gained back about 10 pounds so that would be about 155 pounds now.” I asked her if she’s weighed herself. She said, no, not since I got off the program, but when I was on the program, I weighed daily. You know, I had holidays, travel, I was with a group, paid for the food, so ate what they all ate, then I just couldn’t get back on track.”
We reviewed her medications. She did tell me she takes triamterene daily. I asked if this is for her blood pressure. She said, “No, my blood pressure is fine.” I asked why she was taking that medication then. She then said, “Maybe because it was high at one time.”
With the little information I had, I asked her to please start weighing herself so she had some idea of what her weight is. I also informed her that with the little I know before our visit, with triglycerides like that she is at risk for diabetes. That much I do know.
I informed her of the importance of weighing herself not only to help her lose weight but also to keep off what she loses. She is a traveling salesperson, so I used something she can relate to. I told her without weighing in it would be like you driving at night without your headlights. You can’t see where you are going. She agreed to start weighing.
The next morning she did weigh. She reached out to me and let me know her weight was not 155, but rather 168 pounds. The woman has class I obesity. She also found her labs from 9 months ago, after regaining some of her weight. Sure enough, her triglycerides were >600 and her HDL in the 30’s.
We have made an appointment for a full evaluation and work up. She said, “I know what to do, this was the call I needed to get back on the path. It gave me a reason to do so.”
Lessons Learned:
  • Numbers are important. Not just for health care providers but for patients themselves.
  • Patients need to be taught what the numbers mean. They need to be taught it is not a judgment of them, but a number to guide them to help make health care decisions.
Let’s hope for another disaster averted. This patient saw the power of numbers in the past, now with more understanding it seems like she back on the journey to improved health, which very well may consist of Intense Behavioral Therapy, including dietary changes for life, physical activity plan-pharmaceutical intervention. Time will tell as will the numbers.

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