Published October 19. 2012 4:00AM
Patients often swear to me that they "take their medications religiously." I had a strange sort of epiphany about that last night.
I recently started taking Crestor. My LDL cholesterol came back at 147 - too high - so I stole some Crestor from the sample closet at work. (I'm sure there's some law I broke here, but I haven't even told you about my sins yet.)
I was surprised at my high cholesterol, since I exercise a lot, but I admit that after a hard workout, I load up on proteins, even if that means eating a 3-egg-and-cheese omelette.
But the real cause of my downfall is my wife, Carla. A recent meal, for example, featured delectable fettucine alla carbonara (pasta drenched in raw egg yolks, imported parmiggiano and pancetta, an Italian pigfat), followed by sinful cinnamon pastries.
For lunch she had made Ciccola bread, in which rendered pig lard is rolled into the dough. When I eat it, I can actually hear my coronary arteries closing up. When I joked to Carla that I shouldn't eat this (we both knew I didn't have the willpower not to eat it), she said. "It's OK, you're taking Crestor." (She sounded a lot like Eve.) And I succumbed. Gooey, buttery cinnamon caressed my quivering, expectant lips, as if it were the first longing touch of teenage love. And there was no guilt. I had taken Crestor, my plenary indulgence.
It reminded me about the first time I took the Catholic sacrament of confession. All those terrible sins an 11-year-old can commit - even the really bad one about looking at Playboy's Miss March in all her glory in the magazine aisle at Liggett's Drug Store while my best friend kept lookout - got expunged just by having the courage to tell the priest exactly what I did. He gave me a few Acts of Contrition and told me I was clear. Sin-free. I felt so light after that - I had a free pass.
Of course, a few Saturdays later, I was right back at Liggett's, looking at Miss April. I felt bad, of course, and told the priest at the next confession, but he was nonplussed - almost bored - and said God forgave me. Another pass.
I had a really interesting conversation with the pastor of a local church lately. I was preaching to her, (yes, actually preaching to a preacher) about the need for her to exercise. I felt funny, telling her the gospel of exercise and all its benefits, but she knew she had it coming. She said she would give it her best try. We both joked how vowing to exercise only in the doctor's office can be just like those people who are mean, unkind and uncharitable Monday through Saturday, but come Sunday, they sing the loudest in church. Exercise is a lifetime commitment, not just something you say you will do only when you go see your doctor.
Of course, now that I have confessed my dietary hypocrisy in these pages, if I really mean to take my Crestor religiously, I need not only to atone but also to eat how I preach.