Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Reality: The Leading Cause of Stress

Today I went to the doctor for the first time since I graduated from grad school and my insurance ran out (circa August 2006). So with my shiny new insurance card in hand, I patiently waited in the sweltering (and completely chaotic) waiting room. Leave it to me to pick the day before the entire office moves to another location for my first appointment.
When the nurse finally calls me to the scale, I habitually strip off as much clothing as I can and close my eyes while she tinkers with the weights.
And then, what is usually my favorite part of a doctor's visit turns out to be the crappiest: I have high blood pressure. Bizarrely high. Not the systolic pressure though, the diastolic, which is the pressure in your heart while its not contracting. Sweet. She does my right arm twice and then my left-just to be sure.
Then as she leaves me sitting there in a room that is at LEAST 107 degrees, I do myself even worse by freaking out over the fact that I am being placed into a category typically reserved for the over 65 crowd. (I am suddenly reminded of the day I was diagnosed with arthritis in my knees at the age of 20...and my first colonoscopy, which occurred at 25.) I try to relax on the paper covered bed, putting my hands over my head and stretching, realizing I have somehow forgotten to put deodorant on. So far, I'm feeling stellar.

For the next 40 minutes, as I wait for the doctor to deliver me what I;m certain will be a death sentence, I wonder how in the hell this high blood pressure came to be. I don't eat meat, haven't touched a fast food french fry in over 2 years, pass on all things with trans fats and high fructose corn syrup, exercise, get regular massages, don't put salt on anything....
And then it occurs to me that I could be stressed out. But I don't FEEL stressed out. And then I think about my "generation." I live in a city where more than a person a day is killed, to start. On top of that, there's the almost guarantee that we will get the shit end of the Social Security stick; global warming and the 627 ways its killing us; a war that we can't even pay for (but don't worry, our grandkids will); the lack of any sensible, articulate, honest AND viable candidate for President; the shrinking middle class (which most of us were planning to be members of) and the hundreds of other epidemics, issues and crises we hear about every day. NO WONDER we're so damn stressed! By the time we reach 65, those of us who aren't dead will be even more stressed at the realization that we don't have enough money to go on vacation, let alone retire.

I'm not saying that these issues aren't important-dire, even. But at the rate we're going, we're all going to be so stressed out that there isn't going to be anyone left capable to fix any of these problems.

I don't know about you, but I'm not about to spend the rest of my life on prescription medicine because I'm too overwhelmed to find any serenity in this world.
I'm going to take a bubble bath and eat a popsicle.

Just as soon as I finish setting up my IRA.

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