Thursday, January 17, 2013

I am at risk for everything

To sign up for my new health insurance I needed to take a multiple choice-style health evaluation through WebMD. It asked me questions about my diet, exercise regimen, repetitive tasks at work, how much time I spent sitting, and how much time I spent standing. It asked me if I had moved in the past year and if I had changed jobs.

I groaned my way through the diet segment, recording the number of servings I eat from each segment of the food pyramid, knowing full well that not eating meat or very much dairy for that matter would significantly bring down my score. Somewhere, a stern-looking insurance elf would be marking points against me in his policy holder records.

Since when is WebMD a trusted source of health-related information, thought I, and who would find such an exam useful? Surely it would deduce from the thirty or so multiple choice questions that I’m at risk for cholera, trench foot, and tapeworm, and proceed to recommend me a cure in the form of lean meats.

My actual test results were not so far off. The level of health risk was displayed, to convey a high level of urgency, with a red bar graph that nearly reached the highest level (representing death, I presume?). Were this evaluation a strongman game at the local county fair, I would have been mere inches away from ringing the bell and winning an enormous stuffed lobster for my bombshell girlfriend. Beneath this graph I was declared to be at high risk for a musculoskeletal condition.

My level of stress was also in the red. I didn’t expect stress to put me in the “massive coronary” range, but then I reviewed my answers and I remembered that I had moved twice and rolled through a series of five new jobs in one year. When I factor in student loan conundrums and chronic leaky ceilings and public transportation woes, it’s no wonder I can’t stop sleeping.

I don’t always recognize stress when it’s actually happening – sometimes it manifests itself as a cookie binge, other times a temporary coma. Recently I also had bouts of uncharacteristic crabbiness and blotchy, peely skin. It was like the skin cells on my face were trying to abandon ship.

WebMD proceeded to recommend a series of stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, and journaling. There was not one technique listed that I don’t already do. What can I do to alleviate stress that I’m not already doing? I asked myself. I certainly can’t stop the ceilings from leaking and stop the job markets from sucking and stop people from being absurd.

Then I reminded myself that this was a very general evaluation from the same website that had lead me to believe on more than one occasion that I had bone cancer and that skin condition that made Michael Jackson white. I was probably, for the most part, fine. I certainly couldn't give the insurance elves the satisfaction of divining my stress-related death. I, for one, intend to live. With leaky ceilings and all the rest of it. Forever, if necessary.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry that you're feeling stressed!! When I feel stressed I like to walk outside or listen to music or read. I also found that the website Rainy Mood helps when I want to calm down. It's so soothing!