When my husband announced that we were part of the
new Chicago Wellness program, I grumbled. After all, this city-wide
initiative would require me to skip breakfast the morning of my
scheduled blood draw. Instead of diving head-first into a jar of
Nutella, I would be hungry, grumpy, and several milliliters shy of
my normal blood supply. I like my blood. We're kind of
My staunch opposition wavered as my husband, Joe,
explained the $50 monthly charge that would be applied to all rebel
forces unwilling to shed their blood in the name of medical testing
and actuarial science. I thought about putting together an
insurgent group to fight the evil empire and destroy the mighty
Death Star, but then my husband reined me in with reminders about
"reality" and not listening to "the
Still, my inner conspiracy theorist remained. What if my
avowed enemies (the fashion people who keep adding Spandex to
jeans) got ahold of my now-public blood? They could plant it at
crime scenes. I would be framed for some heinous act simply to keep
pear-shaped women believing that Spandex jeans are actually their
But then I considered that $50 again. That's 12 jars of
I scheduled my blood draw while my son Joey was in
The nurse was very nice with her clipboard and paperwork.
She took my blood pressure, stuck me with a needle, and asked for
my height and weight. I didn't even lie, mostly because I didn't
trust her not to actually throw me on a scale if I tried to get
away with 135 pounds. I left feeling good that I had done my part
to give the city an accurate representation of Nutella-eating
Chicago mothers who indulge in a little Mike's Hard Lemonade now
I forgot about the whole thing until I received my
official wellness report a few weeks later. Every participant is
assigned a number (0-100). A zero means you are in perfect health
and you've probably eaten nothing but twigs and berries since you
were 2. A score of 100 is a sign to get your affairs in order
and quickly bid farewell to loved ones.
I flipped through my various readings: low blood pressure,
low cholesterol, low glucose, low triglycerides. And then I saw my
health score: -20. That's NEGATIVE 20.
I'm practically immortal.
My listed wellness "goal" for the next screening is
to stay between 0 and negative 20. From what I can decipher, the
city of Chicago has just green-lighted my highly suspect diet and
exercise regimen. For those looking to improve on their own
numbers, here is a little insight into what comprises a score of
Breakfast: ½ jar of Nutella or one large bowl of Cocoa
Snack: Pot of coffee with the new Bailey's flavored
Lunch: Leftover Little Caesar's Pizza from last month
Snack: Can of Red Bull
Dinner: Whatever is left on the kids' plates when they are
finished (nuggets, Macaroni & Cheese, hot dogs) with one Mike's
Hard Lemonade (cold)
Snack: Count Chocula treats
Exercise: Weekly tennis lessons spent mostly retrieving
errant balls and talking to moms about where milk is on
Fruits/Vegetables: Strongly discouraged
If the Chicago Wellness people want to contact me for
speaking engagements and diet-planning expertise, I am available.
I'm also thinking a book deal might be in the works along with a
multi-year spokeswoman gig for Nutella. I could be the new
Seriously, this whole thing does make me appreciate the
role of genetics in overall health. I have two living grandmothers
in their 90s. Every time I remind my husband of the longevity of
the women in my family, he looks nervous. There will be no reprieve
from me or my many voices.
Yet if I drop dead suddenly, please inform the cops to
take a good, hard look at the Spandex manufacturers of
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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