Ask the Goat: Athletes need regular checkups

I have rarely been lucky with doctors.

Ask the Goat  by Chris Knodel

Ask the Goat
by Chris Knodel

As a veteran and military spouse, I get “free” care. How many of you would go in for a discount Lasik surgery? Free cancer treatment? Amputation on the house? Exactly.

That is precisely why I have spent nearly 20 years self-medicating. In the early stages, it consisted of mostly alcohol, tobacco and amphetamines to keep the mental issues at bay. Of course, physical ailments were treated with the same alacrity. One time in college I actually sewed a ¾ sever of my thumb back on with dental floss (and lots of vodka).

After several really bad instances with the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system, I learned to do everything possible in-house. For a sedentary drunk that did little in the way of anything, it worked. But then I turned my life around — but never adjusted my medical perspective.

When I lost all the weight, I did it on my own. It had been years since I saw a doctor, and I saw no reason to amend my ways. Other than a foot checkup/x-ray in 2010 and a misdiagnosis of cancer in 2011, I never sought a medical opinion until 2013. That’s when the overtraining of 2012 overtaxed my thyroid gland. As my one remarkable doctor phrased it, I “basically held down the thyroid and shot it in the face.”

Under his treatment and care, I attempted to reclaim my faith in healthcare professionals. That doctor was always responsive, honest and progressive. As a runner, he knew those issues most important to me. But like so many good things, it was temporal. He was promoted and gone by the first quarter of 2014.

Photo by Chris Knodel Chris as a self-medicating obese addict in 2009 .

Photo by Chris Knodel
Chris as a self-medicating obese addict in 2009 .

My new doctor was more of what I had become accustomed to in the Army system. He was aloof, disinterested and mediocre (at best). In fact, in the three months I had him, I saw him once and never heard from him again. The test reports went unreported and my Synthroid prescription went un-renewed. I began a new dietary regimen that greatly increased my speed and resilience, but after three months I began a rapid weight gain.

After much pleading, we managed to get me reassigned to a new physician that reviewed my data and retested my endocrine levels. The Synthroid was actually causing weight gain in conjunction with the new diet. My levels had regulated on the low carbohydrate plan. In essence, I could stop using the synthetic drug if I stayed active and continued the Optimized Fat Management (OFM) plan.

The moral is this: Even more than Joe Average, athletes need regular checkups. There are many substandard healthcare systems out there, so shop around until you find the one that works for you. It took me three doctors in four months to hash out the ever-changing metabolic complications affecting my life.

Photo by Chris Knodel Chris in Haiti (bottom left). This is the man that shortly after this photo sewed back on his own thumb.

Photo by Chris Knodel
Chris in Haiti (bottom left). This is the man that shortly after this photo sewed back on his own thumb.

I felt fat, sick and unstable for months. Now I can function. Self-medication from lack of faith in medicine or from addiction is dangerous and insane. The best medical practice is regular examination. Never wait for an injury. Cancer, metabolic conditions and heart problems are all silent killers. Find them before they find you.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Sports

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