This week we had our annual health fair at work to collect the necessary data for a discount on our insurance premium. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer in discounts and feel fortunate to have good health insurance. When Jim developed dementia, our health insurance allowed us to choose the best treatment options available.
My first objection is calling this experience a “fair”. I remember the Stover Fair with its thrilling rides: Ferris Wheel, the Bullet, Teacups, Swings, carnies, hamburgers cooked by the American Legion, and marching with my classmates in the parade. At this health “fair” I didn’t see a single carnival ride.
Instead, I arrive at work well before 7:00 a.m., grumpy, because I haven’t had my morning coffee. The highlight of the health fair is to give up a vial of blood to get current numbers for the online health survey. Really, it isn’t the un-fun fair that gets us the discount—it’s filling out that darn survey.
All of us employees have been successfully bribed with Donna’s biscuits and Kathy’s sausage gravy. Man-oh-man, the building smells good. Is that the scent of coffee wafting through the air?
Soon, nurses line up, and with assembly line precision, shuffle employees to be weighed, get blood drawn, grab a blood pressure, and glaucoma screen. I give Nurse Lana a hug—she and I went to school together in Stover. We both know this isn’t a real fair, at least, not like the ones in our memories.
A long line snakes in front of the nurses, but there is no waiting at the glaucoma screening station. I look at the green light and blink as air puffs into my eyes. My reading is above the normal range. Not a good way to start the day.
I decide to work awhile and come back when the line is shorter. I take a cup of water to my desk and hunt for a printout that has mysteriously disappeared. I sip my water and try to ignore the headache behind my eyes.
Finally, I risk the line again and it is much shorter. By now, my head has progressed to a dull ache.
Lana motions me to weigh-in. It’s pretty humiliating to step on the scales in front of your co-workers. I didn’t need the scales and a handy-dandy chart to tell me my BMI is too high.
Next stop, blood draw. Wheee, now we’re talking thrill. The nurse drawing blood is falling behind so Lana offers to draw mine. Although I’ve been guzzling water for three hours, she can’t find a vein. They are all in hiding. She looks at the other arm. No vein, no luck.
Lana says, “I really don’t want to take it out of the back of your hand.”
“I really don’t want you to either,” I said. Been there, done that. It hurts a lot more than the arm.
Back to the left arm. Finally, she sees a faint glimpse of blue and sticks in her tiniest needle. No luck. After consulting with the other nurse, they decide I need to drink more water.
I go fill my cup and drink two cups of water. I go ahead and have my blood pressure checked. It is high, of course.
I drop back by the blood nurse. She looks at my arms and shakes her head. Then, she inspects the backs of my hands and now those veins are hiding too. She tells me to drink water and let her look again in ten minutes. My head pounds and I start to feel as nauseous as I did the last time I rode the teacups. Finally, I say, “Let’s go for it.” I’m hungry and caffeine deprived.
She slaps the blue band around one arm and then the other. I make serious fists, trying to get the veins to pop up. She sticks the needle in. Nothing happens. Lana watches as the nurse tries another spot and when she gets close to the vein, it rolls. She prods around with the needle. “You may need to come into the office,” she says.
“There it is!” Lana says. Thank goodness, blood is filling the vial.
Finally! I take my golden ticket and head for the biscuits and gravy. You’d think that with my cholesterol, blood sugar, weight issues, I would eat fruit instead. No way. I filled my plate and headed back to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.
By now, my head feels like a ticking time bomb. I take everything to my desk because I still have to find that darn printout and get a day-and-a-half worth of work done today. After I eat and drink coffee, my head still hurts. I’m not the only one with a sick headache. Brenda, Kathy, and Donna all say their heads hurt too.
After two ibuprofen tablets, lunch and a diet Pepsi, my headache finally abates. Now that I feel better, I begin to find humor in the whole situation. The health fair made us sick!
The bright point in the whole heath fair/discount experience is we don’t have to fast for the survey.