You have some vague idea of what this is, and you suspect it’s nothing like a Judicial Panel or even a Solar Panel. What he’s looking for is cholesterol, bad
fat that you’ve heard causes heart attacks and strokes. You know there’s cholesterol in food, but as the technician tightens the tourniquet, you wonder how that delicious hamburger you ate last week will somehow show up in this tiny glass tube.
A week later you return to your doctor for the results. He starts throwing around words like triglycerides, high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, good and bad cholesterol. He spews out a lot of numbers. You feel confused. This doesn’t appear to be a pass or fail exam.
He writes a prescription. You shudder. “Do I have to take another pill?”
“Well,” he says, smoothing his shirt over his bulging middle. “You could lose weight, exercise, reduce your stress, and eat more Omega-3 fatty acids. That will help.”
Fatty acids? How is eating fat going to help lower fat? You start to ask, but your doctor, doesn’t appear to be in the mood to chat. He suggests you give the “lifestyle change thing” a try. He shakes your hand, wishes you luck and tells you to come back in six months, and he’ll retest you.
You call a friend to compare numbers like you would golf scores. What’s your triglyceride? How about your LDLs? HDLs?
You find out something baffling. Your friend, who is can barely able to button his shirt, has a higher HDL than you do. “That’s the good stuff,” he says proudly.
“Totally confusing,” you tell him.
Another friend loans you her book, YOU Staying Young by Drs. Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz.
The doctors turned authors say that LDL “lousy cholesterol” is a rich protein that carries cholesterol into the tissues. HDL, “healthy cholesterol,” carries the cholesterol from the tissues into the liver.
So somehow the liver’s involved. It still isn’t clear to you what’s going on.
You try the Internet. You are entertained by hit after hit about cholesterol, a fatlike substance that comes from your diet and is also made in your body. It is part of the cell membrane and plays an important role in making some hormones as well as synthesizing Vitamin D.
Okay, but what about triglycerides? You find that about 25% come from your food and that you make the rest in your body.
That night you have a dream.
You are in an airport. You have a ticket on Lipos Airlines, and are about to go through Airport Security with a suitcase. Its tag reads: triglycerides.
Instead of TSA, the officers’ badges are inscribed with, BLP, Blood Lipid Panel. “We’re responsible for your Heart Health and Security,” they say. They open your suitcase and peer inside. “Okay, in here we have the food you ate and some triglycerides your liver made.”
“The BLP officer closes the bag and puts it on the conveyor belt.
“Where is that going?” You ask.
“To the liver.” He replies then looks around. “Where are the rest of your bags? We need to check your Total Cholesterol.”
You’re holding up the line. A few minutes later the conveyor belt that took your triglyceride bag to the liver, reverses direction and brings something back, another suitcase.
“Will you be checking this?” the BLP officer asks.
You feel puzzled, but he insists this second bag is yours too. You look at the tag. Sure enough it’s got LDL written on it and in your handwriting.
“I guess it’s mine.”
“You’ll have to carry this one. Sorry, it’s heavy. These lousy LDLs are never easy to get rid of.”
Moments later you hear familiar voices. It’s your whole family, mother father, aunts, and uncles… They are wheeling a very large cart.
The BLP officer smiles. “Lucky you. This HDL cart will help you with this load. He lifts the LDL bag onto the cart. Just then your triglyceride bag returns on the conveyor belt. “That can go on the cart too.”
You hear overhead, “Lipos airlines flight 200, boarding.”
“That’s my flight.” You check your ticket. It reads: Total Cholesterol 200. But what gate? What terminal?
You are alone now, but you see that the BLP officer has written some words on your boarding pass, but it looks like your doctor’s writing. It says, fibrate and statin drugs.
Suddenly, you are in the pilot’s seat. (Remember. This is a dream)
You glance over at your co-pilot, who is the spitting image of your doctor.
Feeling terrified you say, “I’m not a pilot or a doctor. I don’t know how to fly this thing.”
“Piece of cake! The important thing is to concentrate on what you have control over.” He points to the instrument panel labeled: Total Cholesterol: triglycerides. LDL and HDL. “Triglycerides come from what you eat, but your liver also makes them. Your LDL is influenced by genetics, but you can control it by losing weight, exercising, taking medication, eating foods rich in Omega-3s and cutting down on saturated fats.”
You reach down and turn the two buttons. They move easily.
He points to the third knob labeled HDL. “These controls are pretty much set.”
You reach down; the buttons move just at tad.
“They’re the fail-safe built into the system. You likely got them from your parents. Exercise will effect that knob, raise the levels.” Your doctor revs up the engine and begins the taxi down the runway. “Now what’s so complicated about that?” he asks.
You’re in the air, flying through the clouds, and since it’s a dream, you decide to invite your doctor to go to the gym with you.
Just then your alarm goes off.