As we all must do, I had my annual physical recently. As a part of that examination, blood work is done. My doctor tells me almost everything that might be going on in my body can be told by my blood work-up. As a service to me, my results are printed out and shared with me. As I looked at this information, I have concluded my entire life has been reduced to a series of numbers.
The first number is, of course, my age. There is not much I can do about that number. What comes next is a series of numbers that tells the whole story. My height and my weight. My height was determined before I was born. My weight is another thing, but we won’t talk about that. Those two numbers have caused some genius somewhere to come up with a whole new number, my body-mass index. They have determined optimum health depends on a BMI of some number they have also decided upon. For me to achieve the BMI they want, I would have to be dead for about six weeks and left out in a desert to dry out. Then I might get close. Oh well, we can’t win them all.
Next we get to blood pressure. Again we have numbers decided upon by some genius somewhere who doesn’t know me from Adam. This number is too high or this number is too low. I have a friend who believes these numbers are regularly changed in order to sell more medicine. One year 150/80 is too high and the next year the numbers should be 140/70. Just take this nice little medicine and you too can come into compliance.
How about that cholesterol? It used to be your total cholesterol had to be below 230. Now they have decided there are two different readings, the HDL and the LDL – bad cholesterol and good cholesterol. It’s all so confusing. So I just take that little medicine and I get to the point where my doc is happy. Oh, and I can’t have any grapefruit. It seems grapefruit would render my cholesterol medicine ineffective. There goes one of my favorite drinks – vodka and grapefruit juice. Now if one of these geniuses can just offer some proof high cholesterol is really bad for me I will feel better doing without grapefruit.
The next number that attracts so much attention from my medical gestapo is blood sugar or glucose. That number used to be 120. Now it is less than 100. This one apparently is about diet and exercise. My second favorite thing in life is to worry about my diet and my exercise. I won’t tell you my most favorite. You will just have to imagine.
On this print-out there are many more insidious little things with numerical values. They are, for the most part, words I can neither spell nor understand, but I am sure they are all important. The medical folks sure think they are.
What this all amounts to is the simple fact my life has become nothing but a series of numbers. I am happy to have my health and grateful for the medical profession for their skill and expertise, but sometimes I wonder. Am I an actual life form or have I just become a math problem?