Bethsheba Johnson, MSN, nurse practitioner at Chicago’s Luck Care Center, shows you how to get the most from lab work and chats with your doc.
DON’T eat before a blood test
Certain foods and drinks can skew liver enzyme or glucose levels. “Ideally you shouldn’t eat for 12 hours before,” says Johnson. If you can’t skip meals, keep food and drink light and unsweetened.
DO be honest
Don’t be afraid to discuss what you eat, drink, smoke or do in bed. “We’re not trying be nosy or judge you. We need the truth to understand your lab results.”
DON’T take supplements without your doc’s OK
“Because they’re not FDA-regulated we don’t know how they’ll interact with your HIV meds,” Johnson explains. Run any supplement by your health care provider before you start taking it.
DO bring up side effects Discuss fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or other possible med side effects with your provider. “I like it when my patients take notes and bring them to appointments,” says Johnson.
DON’T OD on Internet info
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by scary news and views on the Internet. “A lot of it is unfiltered, unfounded or unproven by research,” says Johnson. Have your health care provider weigh in.
DO feel entitled to answers
“Your physician is a partner, not a god,” says Johnson. “Feel empowered to ask questions, like what something is, why it’s important and what you should be doing about it.”
BLOOD IS BEAUTIFUL
Blood is our buddy. It transports nutrients, fights infection, provides critical information and bonds us to all of humanity and countless species. Some cool blood facts:
It can take as little as 20 seconds for a drop of blood to leave the heart, travel the body and return.
There are 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body—nearly four times the earth’s circumference.
It’s a myth that human blood is blue until exposed to air. Blood vessels are blue, but blood is red, due to its rich iron content.
Not all species are red-blooded. Lobsters and crabs have blue blood, and earthworms, green.
SHOW WHAT YOU KNOW
Match the test with what it tells you.
1. Viral load
2. CD4 cell count
3. Resistance testing count
A. Tells if your HIV has mutated to make certain drugs less effective, so you can call in the meds that can still lay your HIV flat on the mat.
B. Tells how much HIV is in your blood, and how well the drugs are giving it the smack-down.
C. Tells how many microscopic fighters are in your blood, protecting you from illness.