Tag Archives: health news

My name is Jill…

11 Jul

…and I’m a hypochondriac. I became a health editor probably for the same reason some people go vegan, to live a healthier than thou existence: “White rice? Do you really expect me to eat white rice? Why don’t you sprinkle arsenic on my spinach while you’re at it?”

It was always gratifying to read the latest nutrition headlines and be able to say, “oh, yeah, I’ve been doing that for ages.” Blueberries in the morning with flaxseed and Greek yogurt. Salad with chicken, apples and avocado — no dressing — for lunch. Fish, fish and more fish for dinner. You get the point. But lately, every health article I read is scaring the hell out of me.

First there was the article, originally titled A Deadly Twist, in Self magazine that chiropractics can cause arterial tears and strokes. Then, I came across the other article in Self saying the same thing can happen from yoga. Would you care to guess what happened the next time I went to my gym class and overdid it on ab work? I thought I was having a stroke. My stroke triggered a panic attack, which resembled all the signs of a stroke, thus pushing me further and further into the I’m Dying abyss. Good times.

After I finally convinced myself that my symptoms could be caused by nerves (thank you, John Sarno), I looked up panic attacks online. Bad, bad idea. Did you know that panic attacks can actually raise blood pressure and trigger all sorts of cardiac events, like, for instance, a stroke?

So now, I have been carefully monitoring what articles I allow myself to read. Lyme disease? Too fucking scary and impossible to avoid. Basically, if my eye is drawn to the article out of morbid fascination, I have to push myself on to the next article. While it might help my emotional well-being, it really is doing nothing for my job as a health writer. Check back in a year, and please feel free to stab my eyes out if I’m writing about the best way to apply lip gloss (which, fyi, increases your susceptibility to skin cancer. Not that I’m paranoid or anything).

Healthier Than Thou

13 Jun

It has always been my goal to live as long as humanly possible. And I’m not talking to 100. That’s kid’s stuff. Think about it. If 40 is the new 30, then, following the same ratio, 100 is the new 75. Any woman with a halfway decent set of genes who eats spinach a few times a year is generally going to stick around at least that long. So, no, 100 is not my end goal. I have much higher ambitions than that. I intend to kick around long enough to secure myself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest living supercentenarian on earth. I might be blind, drooling and senile, but I’ll still have one arthritic hand clutching the last threads of life. Well, that’s my hope anyway.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the longevity gene in my family. I could marry someone with bionic genes, I suppose, but that’s only going to help my offspring, and what do I care how long my child lasts if I’m not around to see it?

Heart disease runs in my family, big time. My paternal grandfather who died of Alzheimer’s had a quadruple bypass; my dad, a triple. My mom’s father died of a massive heart attack when I was just a few years old, and Mom is on medication for high cholesterol.

The relatively good news, anyway, is that life expectancy is only 25 to 35 percent genetic. The rest comes down to environment and lifestyle. Clearly, I’ve got some work to do. I may not be the healthiest person in the world, yet, but I’m working on it. I’ve decided to try a little experiment: to follow every piece of health advice I come across in the news or get from my doctor. If I do all the things I’m supposed to do, will I lead a healthier, happier and longer life? Be sure to look me up in 85 years to find out.

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