When Health Care is Self-Care

Staring straight ahead with unfocused eyes, an expression of abject terror plastered across my face, the urge to escape grew stronger with every passing minute. A dozen other deliberate prisoners shared my plight, but none seemed nearly as disturbed by the situation. Hands shaky, shallow breaths failed to fill lungs, while a vague buzzing began to resound within my head. For a general well visit, I did not feel very well at all.

Call it classic white coat syndrome or iatrophobia because the symptoms are impossible to deny. I am absolutely terrified of doctors, to the point that merely dialing the phone to arrange an appointment is liable to send me into a full-blown panic attack. No matter how sick I may feel, no matter how dire physical evidence, there is always a good reason why it doesn’t warrant professional medical attention. Unless I was actively dying, it would not be a reasonable option to seek further intervention, and even then I might give it a 50/50 chance.

As you can imagine, many years tend to pass between checkups. Rarely afflicted by anything more serious than a head cold once a year, if that, there’s been no reason to reconsider this routine anyhow. I can’t say that the lack of objective evidence of overall well-being hasn’t bothered me, though. How accurate is my own self-assessment? How do I know that I’m taking the right supplements, at the right dosage, from prime sources? There’s no nutrient you can’t get from a vegan lifestyle, but conflicting nutritional advice makes it an onerous task to plot out a healthy diet on any level.

That’s why, despite my intense anxiety, I was quite excited to find the Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel offered by Health Labs. An independent service that needs no primary care physician nor medical insurance, available at over 4,500 labs nationwide, the range of potential tests is staggering, covering more wellness concerns than I thought could be addressed without more invasive measures.

Stunningly, the worst part of the whole experience was just waiting to be seen at my local clinic, which was one of three I could walk to from my home. After presenting a photo ID, I had my blood drawn in under 5 minutes, no pain, no bruising, no problems. It seemed implausibly easy, in sharp contrast to the mountains of paperwork required for even a vehicle’s emissions testing. Still eager to make a quick getaway, I made a break for the door, nonetheless dubious of the whole process.

Two small miracles resulted almost immediately, the first of which being that it was actually immediate. After submitting my blood samples on a Friday, I got back the results on Monday morning. Given the snail’s pace at which such highly regulated exams typically proceed, how is that even possible? Then, to my immense relief and mild surprise, after so much worry, my vitamin levels for the 11 most common deficiencies in a vegan diet were all within optimal range. Every. Last. One.

Having that peace of mind is priceless, and to anyone else even moderately curious about their own nutritional intake for any reason, I can’t recommend this service highly enough. Whether you add supplements or get all of your vitamins directly from food, it’s incredibly challenging to strike the proper balance. There’s no need to go it alone or feel like you’re hunting for answers in the dark; after getting your results, you can even get a personal consultation to help make sense of the numbers.

In the quest for personal health, just knowing your baseline is half the battle. After all, you can only improve upon something if you’re aware of it in the first place.

Many thanks to Health Labs for making this post possible.

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11 thoughts on “When Health Care is Self-Care

    1. Absolutely, I can’t tell you what a game-changer this service was to my whole concept of healthcare. I’m so happy it exists for people like me who don’t know where to turn for more information about their own well-being, without going through the hoops of the whole medical corporate complex.

  1. I didn’t think that there was anyone else that felt like this about doctors. It’s quite a relief that I am not alone. I know about many phobia but had no idea that this one had a name. Feeling physically sick and terrified just at the thought of making a phone call for the appointment seems ridiculous – and I know it – but it still happens every time. As for the appointment itself, I don’t know how my legs carry me into the consulting room!
    Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad your nutritional tests came back fine.

    1. Oh goodness, you’re not alone at all! It’s actually a very common phobia, even if most people can’t put it to words as such. That doesn’t make it any easier to confront, I know well, but you’re not crazy for having such intense feelings. It’s a testament to your strength that you can find the courage to push through it when you need to.

  2. That is awesome and what a relief. I usually get hit with low iron blood tests which seems to run in my family, both of my non-vegan sisters get this regularly too. I stress about taking too much iron to combat this, can’t win.

    1. Finding the right balance really is a maddening battle. At the end of the day, we can only do so much! It never hurts to have more information though and keep track of your levels.

  3. Story of my life.

    Reason why I’m always fine even when I’m sick. Can’t risk that prick fighting its way into my skin… #panic. Yes I’m a dude but I’m afraid of needles.

    1. Fear isn’t selective; anyone can be afraid of any thing, no matter who you are. It shows strength that you can talk about it though!

  4. So pleased you have piece of mind and your health results were good.. My sister suffers from panic attacks and its the very last resort when she goes to the Drs… So well done you.

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