The Quiet Organs

This morning I had an appointment with the family doctor to discuss the results from my most recent health check and perform some follow-up tests. The health check is done at what can only be described as a medical processing factory in Nagoya. People go in, change into the issued garb, then consign themselves to being poked and prodded by as many as 18 different doctors over the next hour or two. When I first took one of these examinations back in 2008 I was impressed by the efficiency while also struggling to keep up with all the directions1. Now it's just "one of those things" that takes up half a day in the summertime. This year's health check summary outlined some potential issues with my kidneys and highlighted a lower than average white blood cell count.

At the family clinic, the nurses had me to all of the expected tests. Blood was extracted, urine was deposited into a cup, weight and blood pressure were measured. I won't hear the results from the first two tests, but the blood pressure result was apparently low enough to warrant the nurse checking not once, not twice, but thrice. Generally it hovers around 100/60. Today the reading was 87/44. I wonder if this explains the occasional bouts of light-headedness when standing up.

After all of this, I had the opportunity to speak to the doctor and answer a bunch of questions related to my recent health and diet. Once satisfied, he pulled out a booklet and showed me what the F grade on the medical checkup means. He pointed to a chart that consisted of ages along the top and scores along the left. "Perfectly healthy" results had a background of white, while early warning results were in blue. As the scores and ages progressed the backgrounds became yellow and red, which is generally the point where the kidneys have completely failed and regular dialysis treatments are required. The score from my annual health check put me in the first blue square for people 40 years of age. If I were 39 then the result would have had a white background.

Perhaps I scoff a bit too much at all the alarmist messages that bombard us on a daily basis, but having a test result of F for something that just barely measures as something to pay attention to is a bit absurd.

Either way, I've asked to have a bit more testing done on the kidneys just to make sure there is no sign of stones or other issues. I'll head to the nearby regional hospital on the 15th to undergo an ultrasound to check the overall condition of both kidneys as well as my liver; the three organs that are generally pretty quiet until they're not, and then it's too late.

From what the doctor said today, the test results will probably show things we already know:

  • I'm getting older
  • there are some small stones that are being passed, which is resulting in some blood
  • the low white blood cell count is due to exhaustion more than anything else

  1. My Japanese was painfully insufficient back then. It's not great now, either, but I can generally communicate to get things done. Just don't ask me to read a news article with a deadline, because I'll often need some extra time to extract meaning from what's written.