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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Thursday, May 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Those holiday treats can get in your blood

May I give you just one bit of holiday advice?

Never take a cholesterol test during the Christmas season.

I can’t believe I didn’t recognize the pitfalls in advance and take appropriate precautions, such as postponing this test until, say, the Fourth of July.

(No, never mind. That would have been a rotten idea, too, what with cookouts, barbecued ribs and potato salad.)

As it was, I took my cholesterol test a week after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means. It means my bloodstream was still speckled with chunks of turkey skin, cornbread-bacon stuffing, sherry gravy and buttered dinner rolls.

Not only that, but my arteries were gloriously contaminated with all of the auxiliary meals we snarfed down throughout Thanksgiving weekend, which included – and this is just a partial list – bratwurst, French fries with truffle oil, Swiss cheese crepes, chicken mole enchiladas and In-N-Out burgers ordered “animal style.”

Excuse No. 1: We were in L.A. for Thanksgiving.

Excuse No. 2: “Animal style” is not as disgusting as it sounds. As any true In-N-Out Burger connoisseur knows, it is simply a burger with grilled onions, extra “spread” (sauce), pickles and mustard.

Still, not the ideal pre-cholesterol-test diet.

So I suppose it should have come as no surprise that my total cholesterol came back at 235, which is what our beloved family doctor, Joseph John Charyk, characterized tactfully as “slightly above ideal” and what the actual test flagged with an exclamation mark and an H, which stands for High!

Apparently, anything above 200 is high.

He did add some good news: My “good cholesterol” score of 45 was “adequately high,” a phrase that I interpreted as “outstandingly perfect.”

Still, that brings us to Part Two of my holiday cholesterol cautionary tale, subtitled “How the Grease Stole Christmas.”

Ever since the results came back, all of the joy has been sucked right out of Christmas buffets, Christmas parties, Christmas potlucks, Christmas happy hours, Christmas coffee breaks and Christmas goose dinners.

As I pick my way through trays of Gorgonzola cheese, bacon-wrapped shrimp and cocktail-wienies-in-barbecue sauce, the number “235” flashes in my brain like a defective neon light in a Levi’s commercial. I am feeling all of the usual guilt that comes with eating cocktail wienies, multiplied by 235.

Of course, I haven’t actually let it ruin all of the joy. I have gone right ahead and speared six or seven wienies and turned them into lunch. I have guzzled a gallon of eggnog. I have thoughtfully sampled both the cheesecake and the fudge, so as not to offend anyone at the holiday potluck. Only a Scrooge would do that.

And I fully intend, this weekend, to soak up some Christmas prime rib au jus with a forkful or two of cheese-scalloped potatoes. Just because a guy scores a 235 doesn’t mean that he has to eat spelt-balls and oat-loaf at a Christmas dinner.

Still, I urge you never to put yourself in this same awkward position. Schedule your cholesterol test for February or March. Your results may still turn out to be “slightly above ideal” but at least you’ll find it much, much easier to swear off the eggnog.

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