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No Fear

That was my father's lesson to me. Don't fear anything other than walking in dangerous and dark alleys. Everything else life dishes is manageable if we can keep fear at bay. After Tarun's health crisis, I spoke to several friends and realized we are collectively petrified of medical intervention.

I'll confess first.

My lipid profile has been bad for years. I'd like to blame it on the kids and parenting trauma. The reality is that my genes are meh and the bloodwork results bear witness. Each time my doctor uttered the word "statin", my hand would go up in a stop motion and I would commit to eating better, exercising regularly and knocking down the bad markers. I'd charm my way out of his office and do all the right things. On the next visit the numbers would be in range. When my good habits lapsed in due time, my doctor would raise alarms again.

This cycle went on until my doctor firmly ordered me to get on statin.

I went crying to my husband, brother and son: bully doc is forcing me to take statin! Husband was patient but firm that I should take the medicine. Brother dismissed my nonsense by calling every day and asking if I had started the medicine.

My son read me the riot act."MOMMMM!! Statin should be in the water supply!! WHAT is your problem with taking them?! When - not if! - your arteries clog then it will be TOO LATE!"

Few things ring louder than a 10,000-decibel yelling from the young 'un. Total lack of support from husband and brother did not help at all. Then my Dad's voice echoed in my head - no fear, kiddo, he said with his trademark impish smile.

So, why did I resist?

Primarily because I didn't want to go on medication for life. Plus, I had heard stories about statin causing hair loss, liver damage, muscles pain and so on. After the come-to-Jesus moment with Neil, I began to research instead of relying on hearsay and learned that 5-10% of patients have side effects from statin.

That helped me rationalize. First, I've never been elite enough to be in a small and special cohort. Second, what's the point in having a glorious head of hair if the heart sputters. Third, I have a gene pool that regularly causes cardiovascular havoc, so why poke the sleeping beast.

I started statin soon after the yelling from Neil. Several years on, I have absolutely no adverse effects. I am going for a cardiac workup soon and expect nothing short of a gold star.

Same thing with diabetes. Think of what sugar does when you spill soda on your laptop. The circuits fry, right? The body is no different. Sugar goes to war with our organs. If we don't take care of diabetes, our organs fry in slow motion.

I have many friends who swear by the benefits of fruits and vegetables with specific cholesterol and diabetes lowering capabilities and, like the old me, they resist taking medicines. Going on statin and sugar med doesn't absolve us of the good habits related to food and exercise. These meds can only do so much to negate the effects of saturated fats, processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. We must absolutely eat the good foods in plenty and exercise regularly, but rejecting meds that have been scientifically researched for years over millions of people is a mistake we should avoid making.

I know big pharma is no angel (opiod crisis!) and the healthcare industry's financial motivations are often dubious, so caution is certainly warranted. Pit the wrongdoings of these industries against the fact that statin has a 35-year track record and insulin has been around since 1921. There is an enormous body of evidence available to the general public on the benefits of these specific drugs and stats on their side effects. With South Asians having a particular propensity for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we can ill-afford to paint all of pharma and healthcare with a single brush loaded with fear and cynicism. When we cannot undo what is inherent in our DNA, we have to rely on doctors and medicines.

Yes, I have gone from cynic to evangelist.

When Tarun became unresponsive from cardiovascular malfunction there was zero choice but to do everything that the doctors recommended including going on a cocktail of potent drugs he had never taken before with temporary but monstrous side effects. We wish we had understood the genetics of South Asians better and recognized and heeded the warning sooner instead of playing God with a (poorly) managed diet and exercise regimen.

We have only one body, please let's take care of it in the best way possible. Cheers to good health and march on without fear and with medicines, good food choices and an active lifestyle.



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