If I Could Take It There

I could take it anywhere.

Well, I can take it mostly anywhere, but not here. At least not anymore.

Sorry. That was a long way to go to butcher a song lyric. And what the hell am I talking about?

As most of you probably know, it’s incredibly easy these days to have complete control over the diagnostic portion of your health care. You can go online, select and order blood and other diagnostic tests, and get the results online — in many cases, for much cheaper than if you had paid out-of-pocket for doctor-ordered tests. Easy, that is, except in seven states: MA, MD, ND, SD, NJ, RI, and good ‘ole New York, New York. For whatever reason, legislators in these states have decided that information is inherently dangerous, and you need to be protected from obtaining it without a doctor’s supervision.

Which means this experiment shouldn’t have been possible for me. But thankfully, one company — Direct Labs out of Florida — essentially cobbled together a workaround. A limited number of tests could be ordered online, at which point a requisition form would be generated by a doctor in FL that you could print out and bring to LabCorp.

At least you could until about three days after I last posted. Which is when under pressure from the NY Attorney General, Direct Labs terminated its so-called Direct Access program.

I had a brief email exchange with their CEO; she doesn’t believe she was breaking any laws by administering the workaround, nevertheless, she stated that her company couldn’t shoulder the legal and financial burden of trying to fight it.

Which of course makes me reallllly wish I had wrapped up this thing on its original schedule. Because without an ongoing way to order the NMR tests (if I haven’t mentioned it before, my doctors never wanted any part in this endeavor), I can’t really continue.

There is the option of getting the tests done in Pennsylvania. The biggest hurdle there is it would require the time and fuel for a four-hour round-trip to the closest lab. The financial costs of that are potentially doable; the time requirements haven’t been.

The time to make the required remaining trips down there will potentially open up when I finish the semester in May, but this latest setback is making the whole thing seem like a giant windmill I’m tilting at.

Any ideas welcome. Also, if you live in any of the states that have made online test ordering illegal (or even if you don’t), write somebody. Write the AG or your congressperson. The notion that we need to be protected from information about ourselves is insane in 2015.

It’s amazing that both the genetic and diagnostic testing that originally inspired and made this experiment possible — at least in New York — both no longer exist.

Resurrection

If anyone has stumbled upon this site over the past year, you’ve found it basically abandoned.

I never let go of the idea. But since the end of the potato phase last January, things in my life started happening — some good, some not-so-good — that drew my attention slowly away from thinking too much about the experiment. After a while, it got placed firmly on the back burner. Then the burner got turned off.

Over this past summer, I made a pretty significant decision to pursue a career in healthcare. Towards that end, I enrolled in school for a secondary degree/obtain needed science prerequisites, with the goal of applying to Physician Assistant school in the 2016 or 2017 cycle. Needless to say, this has taken up most of my time, and I haven’t had much leftover for personal projects.

But I hate to leave things in my life unfinished.

Which is why I’m going to make every effort to complete the experiment. I’m still interested in the results, and even if what I’ve found so far indicates that a purely diet-based solution to lipid control isn’t likely in my situation, I’d like to complete the data collection anyway. And it may make an interesting topic of conversation in an interview down the line.

So back at it then.

Like I was saying

Oh, Lipitor.

As for Pfizer, the drug maker tells us it doesn’t believe Lipitor caused the plaintiff to develop diabetes and argues women who are prescribed the pill to control cholesterol may share other risk factors that make them vulnerable to the disease, such as high blood pressure or obesity. And Pfizer says there is an “overwhelming consensus” in the medical community about benefits to be had from statins.

Problem is, according to two doctors I’ve talked to in the past month, there’s starting to be an overwhelming consensus about its side-effects as well.

PRELIMINARY POTATO TEST RESULTS

So I wrapped up the Potato diet on Sunday night. 42.3 pounds of potatoes over three weeks. On Monday I went for two blood tests. One was my standard self-purchased NMR and metabolic panel at LabCorp. The other was a scheduled basic lipid panel at my cardiologists office. It wasn’t a happy coincidence — I had scheduled it to coincide with the potato diet completion, as I was hoping to use the (hopefully improved) results to finally broach the subject of my experiment with the doc.

Over the past 48 hours I received two voicemail from his office to go over the lab results. Uh-oh. They never call to discuss results unless something negative is up. But what? The numbers couldn’t possibly be worse after three weeks of no-fat/no-cholesterol, could they? Did I have some wacky metabolic numbers?

Well, turns out the call was to discuss this:

LDL-C: 110 (down from the pre-potato baseline of 145, and from the last doctor labs of 161 in August 2013)
HDL-C: 28 (down from the pre-potato baseline of 50, and from the last doctor labs of 34 in August 2013)

To tell you the truth, I thought there would be a greater reduction in the LDL, even from just three weeks. Of course, the doc thinks I’ve been on Lipitor for the past six months, so he was even more concerned, since his target os an LDL-C of <100, preferably 70. As for the HDL, well, I wasn't eating any fat or cholesterol, so I would expect a reduction here as well. The NMR results should be back later this week hopefully. Also will be posting a wrap-up of the potato diet (intakes, etc) in the next day or two.