The Annual Doctor Visit Approaches

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I know, right? The title of this week’s blog entry? As if I go to the doctor only once a year! Except for the first time in five years, it’s actually true that, as far as my primary-care physician is concerned, I’m visiting her again for the first time in a year. The checkup.

Yes, yes: three or four endocrinologist visits annually, and then there was the whole thyroid cancer follow-up marathon in June that consisted of a week of hospital visits to scan for remaining cancer tissue. There’s the podiatrist, too. Yet it almost feels as if I’m out of practice going to my doctor. For a while I was visiting Dr. Lukela’s office quite frequently: The whole diabetes thing (of course) and, as previously mentioned, the thyroid cancer. There were also a couple years at the end of the last decade in which I had much monitoring of my liver functions to keep an eye on symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Then this issue with my kidney in 2009 — an angiomyolipoma — that showed up on an ultrasound: “simple benign cyst in the middle of the left kidney.”

Yes, fun.

I haven’t been sick this past year — at least nothing that warranted showing up at my PCP’s office. I attribute a lot of my avoidance of being sick to recommitting myself in the summer of 2010 to exercising regularly and intensely (I’ve written about lifting weights and cardiovascular workouts so much this year that that’s all I’ll say about it here).

So, this upcoming Monday visit is a reunion of sorts. It may sound a bit “Really?” or a little bit “Oh, come on!” but I’m looking forward to this checkup. I want to discuss my medical issues with my doctor, to talk diabetes, cancer, kidneys, liver, cholesterol, as well as lifestyle. And emotional health.

What’s the issue of primary importance that I wish to discuss this year? Emotional health. As readers of my blog who’ve been with me for some time may recall, I’ve talked before about being a person diagnosed with depression. It’s been under control for a good four or five years now. I’d been seeing a therapist every couple of weeks, and I was on a low dosage of the generic brand of Celexa (citalopram). Except last January, due in large part to a change in the patient-load of the therapist I’d been seeing for three years, I stopped going to therapy. She (my therapist) was reclassified and her primary caseload was short-term patients only (less than six months of work together). So, rather than begin again with another therapist, I decided to try quitting cold turkey.

I’ve been great. And actually, at the same time, rather than the 30 mg of citalopram I’d been on, I dropped myself to 20 mg because it was easier to just take one pill rather than a pill and a half (lazy, I know, but they don’t make 30 mg tablets). I had no ill effects.

So Monday we’re going to talk about continuing on the antidepressant. Given the onset of these bleak and mostly sunless Michigan winters, I’ll no doubt continue the medication for at least another four months, but I want to explore the pros and cons of going off of SSRIs early next year and see what that brings.

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