Friday, April 26, 2013
About 30 years ago, give or take a few, our local TV station channel 9 sponsored a health fair. Events were held in local shopping malls. All the options were free and included conventional tests such as blood pressure screenings and non-conventional opportunities such as an iridology screening (that's reading patterns in a person's eyes). My then about 4 or 5 year old son was told from this latter person that he needed to be especially careful of early high blood pressure and darned if they weren't right. They were open 2 days of 1 weekend. Anyway, it was pretty informal and I didn't go back for many years.
Fast forward to around the year 2000. By that time the Health Fairs were an annual staple of the community. They were being held in church buildings, community centers, even City Halls, and they ran 7 days a week for about 6 weeks. The testing was much more conventional and organized, and included a full blood panel for $25 or $30 that required a 12 hour fast. They usually ran from 7:00 a.m. to noon and were staffed 100% by volunteers. I started going alone since my husband wouldn't go with me. Everybody getting the blood test wanted to go early so they could get breakfast sooner. The early birds, mostly older people, started lining up at 6:00 a.m. Some years the weather was cooperative, temperatures in the 40s and 50s. Other years we stood in 20 degree snowstorms. The screenings grew to include hearing, vision, osteoporosis, skin cancer, breast cancer, even PAP smears. For those of us who work all week and have trouble getting time off for doctor appointments, or for folks who couldn't afford insurance, the Health Fairs were a great way to be sure you were OK for another year. And the stories started to accumulate about how many people found problems early (diabetes, high blood pressure, low thyroid, for example) and literally had their lives saved.
Now fast forward again, this time to the present. The Health Fairs are held for 8-10 weeks a year in locations all over the state, in medium sized cities and small towns as well as the larger metro areas. Literally thousands of people attend, and I am still one of them. After I turned 60 (a few years ago) I started finding changes that weren't so healthy. But each time I took my results to my own doctor who added them to my records and used them as a starting point for directing my care.
Two years ago my blood sugar was up, my triglycerides were up, my HDL was down, my weight was climbing, and my heartbeat was irregular. Last year the heart was under a doctor's care but the rest of the numbers were worse. My doctors started threatening all kinds of drugs which triggered a deep-seated if silent roar of HELL NO!!
Which brings me to SparkPeople.
I tried to get my weight down but, being my classic body, I gained 3 more pounds. Then my daughter told me about SparkPeople and how much it helped her. I joined last September and have now lost 20 pounds. That's not a lot compared to some people, but it's the most I have been able to lose in more years than I can count. It's particularly amazing because I have been working full time and have not had a lot of energy for working out - until I started working out, of course! I should have my results any day now and I'm actually looking forward to seeing them - and taking them to my doctors. I know they have to be better than last year's and I can't wait to show off my healthier (though not perfect) body.