Sunday, November 21, 2010

Health Fair Heebie-Jeebies

Dear George,

They were holding a health fair at the fitness center the other day. I’d forgotten about it, but, since I was there, I went ahead and registered at the Welcome Table. They gave me a blue bag with some useful gifts (a memo pad, a ball point pen, two brochures). The fair was pretty large – at least forty tables, covering every sort of malady from athlete’s foot to hospice care. Right at the start I saw a nurse who was moving her fingers about an inch above a prone woman’s forehead, transmitting healing energy vibrations into her brain. The Welcome Woman invited me to be next, but the whole idea made me nervous. The people at the next table were offering to check your ears for waxy build up. That seemed more concrete and also appealed to me since I’ve been having trouble with the British accents on PBS. The technician stuck a camera gizmo in my right ear and showed me the image of my inner ear on a tiny TV screen. “Oh, this doesn’t look good,” she said. My entire ear canal seemed to be covered over with a big glob of shiny black stuff which she said was wax. Then she put the gizmo in my left ear, and, though I did see a little patch of pink eardrum in one corner, it wasn’t much better. She said it was 50% blocked. Then she warned me that my inner ears could fill up with water behind the wax. I told her I’d been feeling like I might have water in my left ear lately. Also, she said, my ears could become breeding grounds for bacteria, and who knows what would happen then. That sounded terrible. I asked her what to do, and she gave me a list of ear-nose-throat doctors at their hospital who would extract the wax. I could practically feel the bacteria moving around and breeding in my ears right then and there. I thought to myself that I’d better get to a doctor right away.

A little further on I came to a table where they tested your glucose level. My blood sugar had been elevated at my last physical, so I decided to check it. I told the woman that I’d been above normal recently, though not in a diabetic range. She told me that 140 was the level for diabetes and that, if I registered that high, we would discuss what the next steps will be. She pricked my finger and the meter gave off a reading of 70. At first the woman acted like that was good. But then she said my reading was really pretty low, and I’d better get something to eat right away so that I didn’t get dizzy. I thought to myself, my system has gone berserk – first I’m too high, now I’m too low. I worried about fainting during my exercise workout. Just my good luck, the very next table featured healthy diet food. They had put out little paper cups with about a tenth of an ounce of fruit cut into tiny pieces. I took a cup and gulped the contents down in one swallow, hoping it would suffice till I got lunch.

Out in the hallway there was a physical therapist table, which was actually what I was most interested in. I told the therapist that I’d incurred rotator cuff injuries to both my shoulders a year ago, but I’d had cortisone shots and was doing much better. She said it was unusual to hurt both shoulders and asked how I’d gotten injured. I said I’d done it right here at the fitness center on the Shoulder Press machine. The therapist scrunched up her nose and said she hates the Shoulder Press machine. She wished they’d get rid of it. I told her that I’ve recently begun using it again, but only using ten-pound weights. She gave me a shocked look and said, “Are you a crazy person? Why in the world would you start doing something that caused you such an injury? What kind of person are you anyway?” I felt sort of defensive and said I wanted my muscles to be able to lift things up over my shoulders. “You don’t have to lift things over your shoulders,” she said. “Just do your other exercises. You don’t have to lift upwards. Don’t do that Shoulder Press machine any more!” “O.k., that’s what I’m going to do,” I said. I actually appreciated such heartfelt advice.

I went upstairs to the workout room and started using the lower body strength machines. I didn’t even look at the Shoulder Press machine. After a few minutes, though, I thought of another question for the physical therapist. I went back downstairs, but by this time there was a new physical therapist at the table. I explained again about my rotator cuff injury, and the therapist said he hated the Shoulder Press machine and wished they’d get rid of it. I said I’d been extremely cautious about my other upper body exercises and wondered if I could increase the minimal weights I’d been using. He said that was fine, but it was most important that I use good posture when doing the exercises. Oh no, I thought to myself, he thinks my posture is terrible. That’s probably how I got injured in the first place. Bad posture. I went back upstairs and started doing my exercises again -- I had the most upright posture of anybody in the place.

In retrospect, I think that the health fair is not really so much about giving you health information as it is a marketing device to make you anxious so you patronize their hospital staff. In my case, they were very successful, though I do feel I’m lucky to have gone. As soon as I got home I made an appointment to get the wax cleared out of my ears. I’m looking forward to watching PBS. I feel more comfortable about my blood sugar which I now view as balancing itself out between too high and too low. I have quit the Shoulder Press machine forever, and I’ve improved my posture as well. Best of all, I collected eight free memo pads and five ballpoint pens from the various tables I stopped at. These will last a long time, at least until the next Health Fair.



Health Fair Heebie=Jeebies

G-Mail Comments

-Linda C (11-22): see , this is what is so fun about aging, young people really really care how fit we are, and of course if we have insurance, not just medicare but lapse insurance also. if this was held at the fitness center i think you can bet 90% of the people had insurance. and if they can make you a little neurotic about your illnesses that will bring you in to the health care institution that supported the fair…have a great day with our kids and the twins, i want to hear every little thing they did. i hope katja isn't cooking this year after her shoulder injury, speak to you thursday and give my love to katja.

-Donna D (11-21): david, i think this is all wonderful! when you list all the positive things that you got from it, the health fair was a huge success for you. Yay!

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