#BlackGirlHealing: “What You Do Now Matters Later”

BlackDoctor.org is excited for this content partnership with GirlTrek to feature #BlackGirlHealing, an initiative created to document the narratives, struggles and successes of Black women on the journey to living their healthiest, most fulfilled lives through the habit of daily walking. This initiative will further the mission of decreasing health disparities and stigma among women and girls, and further the conversation that self care is a revolutionary act of love. Join the movement at http://www.girltrek.org.

I can remember it like as if it was yesterday.  I have been employed at a hospital for 24 years.  Each year, my employer conducts a health fair. This health fair consists of health insurance vendors, universities and nurses offering health screens. In 2003, as I do every year, I went to the health fair and browsed around for about 10 minutes. I looked over at the health screening line and there was nobody in line. So, I went over to have my blood pressure checked and my finger pricked for diabetes and cholesterol screenings. I made small talk with the nurse about the weather and my children as we waited for my results to show on the small hand held screen. After a few moments, I heard the beep; I looked down to see my blood sugar was perfect. However, I glanced at the second machine to see the number 260 glaring back at me.

The nurse looked at me and said, “You have high cholesterol?” I responded, “No, not to my knowledge.”  My heart began to race. She asked if she could prink my finger again. Surely, this was a mistake and this time, my perfect numbers would show up. After another screening the number showed 262. I decided to stop while I was ahead. I was advised to visit my primary care physician for follow up.

I went back to my office and began to curse the sleeve of Shortbread Girl Scout cookies that I had eaten the night before. Yes, I did say sleeve! Or could it have been the bottles of 16oz Coca-Colas that I would consume on a daily basis? Where did this come from? I have been in great health most of my life with the exception of asthma when I was young.

All In the Family

I scheduled an appointment with my physician only to confirm my high cholesterol. My physician explained that my numbers were not super high, but if I didn’t make changes I would be required to take medication.

I called my mom to have her join me in prayer. When I told her about my numbers, she responded, “Oh, it’s hereditary. I have it, your grandmother had it, and my sisters have it. We are all on medication.” I looked at the phone thinking, “This would have been good information to know.”

Let me be honest and say that I did not have a plan. I didn’t acknowledge the impact that high cholesterol could have on my body. I had no idea how to lower my cholesterol. My doctor gave me pamphlets, but it just didn’t appeal to me. My motivation was not to take a pill every day.

Each year, I would return to my physician for annual check-ups only to find that my numbers had stayed the same or went down by 4 to 5 points. I did understand that I needed to be fewer than 200. At this rate, I had a long way to go.