Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Nothing is Free

I recently joined our private health insurance plan through work, as I think I mentioned before. One of the percs of this plan is free cinema tickets, which we can get through the insurance company website. So the other day I went to register.

First, the website wanted me to take a health survey. It asked about things like my weight and my smoking and drinking and exercise habits -- all the expected stuff. It also asked about certain specific conditions and recent tests, and then assigned me an "age" based on my overall health.

Now, I think I'm a pretty healthy person. I don't overeat and I'm not overweight, I walk everywhere, and I drink in moderation and don't smoke at all. I don't have any long-term health issues as far as I know.

But this stupid survey assigned me an "age" of 54, which is three years older than I actually am, entirely because of my cholesterol levels. When I got my most recent blood test it detected higher than normal LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol). This isn't unusual -- every time I've had a cholesterol test done, even in my youth, it's given a similar result. (My HDL and triglycerides, whatever those are, are fine.)

And yet, in my family, there's no history of heart disease. My mom also has high cholesterol and she's 80 -- although, granted, she was on statins for several years. I'm pretty sure I'm one of those people whose cholesterol level is genetically high with no ill-effects. (I read something about how an LDL reading alone isn't enough to predict heart disease -- for one thing, there are apparently various types of LDL, some more damaging than others.)

I just can't see doing more to reduce my dietary cholesterol. I don't eat fast food, I don't eat processed food (except three or four McVitie's chocolate-covered biscuits, which I have for dessert most nights, but dammit, I'm allowed something sinful), I don't eat a lot of meat or cheese. Dave cooks with butter but I don't see that stopping -- even if I crawled to his feet gasping and clutching my chest he'd slap a hunk of butter in the pan for our next meal.

And then I learned that I have to update the web site with weekly measurements of how far I walk and how much I exercise and that kind of thing to get my tickets. This really annoyed me, because I thought I was going to have to go buy a Fit Bit or something -- and if that's the case, what's the point of "free" tickets? But then Dave showed me that my phone records how much I walk, and has been since we bought it -- I had no idea.

I'll let you know if I ever successfully get to see a movie through this program. I'm not sure there are many movies I want to see this badly.

(Photo: Croydon, a couple of weeks ago.)


  1. I think you are probably correct about the high cholesterol being normal for you.
    Mine has been high for years and I've made it so far. Tom took statins for a few years and they affected him badly, in fact the doctor told him it was best he came off of them, how's that.
    We know far too much nowadays and the media is enough to make you feel ill even if you are not. I wouldn't worry, let Dave keep slapping the butter in and enjoy, lol

  2. You are doing everything right and don't worry. You are a healthy person leading a healthy life.

    The whole school of cholesterol-the-culprit thinking is in the process of change.
    Based on many many large studies, the medical consensus now tends towards 200 plus age for overall cholesterol levels.
    Also, there is minimal if any evidence (again long term studies) that diet can lower cholesterol levels. In fact, if you cut out all cholesterol from your diet, your body will just produce more.
    Cholesterol is what the body produces to "batten down the hatches". In fact, a woman in labour (ie massive strain on blood vessels) typically will have extremely high cholesterol levels. Traditionally women were given high cholesterol food during and after childbirth (in Ireland it used to be raw eggs and Guinness which has a high malt content).

    If you want to delve into this, there is an interesting Canadian documentary somewhere online, nothing hysterical, quite well researched:

  3. It's like they have created so many hoops to get through that hardly anybody will get to claim the free cinema tickets.
    Buy a new suit from "Suits R Us" and you will receive a free holiday in Zimbabwe! (To qualify you must complete the following forty page survey, pass the attached IQ test, fax three copies of your birth certificate and passport to our head office, forward a security deposit of £500 and eat your own arm) Please note that transport to and from Zimbabwe is not included in this promotion. Good luck!

  4. I love today's photo. I am extremely interested in squalor and I can see that you share this enthusiasm. And with the Berkeley Tower in the background, says it all about Croydon. Yes, it's another day of "writing" here at my desk so I've been googling strange multi-colored high rise buildings and Eska Art graffiti.

    If you are over 40 and can still wear skinny jeans (no muffin tops), you get to take of 10 years off your chronological age.

  5. I have that genetically high LDL readings too.
    I give up on all of it. Give me drugs, don't give me drugs- I'm going to die one of these days. And that is the way it is.

  6. I've read, and my GP agrees in general, that it's not really the amount of cholesterol but whether or not your veins and arteries are inflamed. that's what makes the cholesterol stick. no inflammation, no clogging. mine's a little high too but I refuse the medication. I did take it for a couple of years but decided to stop. cholesterol is also connected to memory if I remember correctly (ha ha). I am of the opinion that if you eat well, are active both mentally and physically then that's about the best it gets. as Mary says we're all going to die some day and I'd rather not be pickled in pharmaceuticals when I do. and I'm pretty sure the powers that decide these things have decided that butter is good for us after all.

  7. I've read all the comments and absolutely vote with the consensus here. I sometimes think we've lost our way medically and have a lot of information the professionals simply don't know what to do with. Add pharmaceuticals to the mix, and voila... you've got a condition that needs a pill.

  8. There is a catch to everything these days. I recently entered an on-line contest for a free trip. The next thing I knew I was getting emails from all kinds of places. Grrrr...I had better win that contest. :-)

  9. Did they ask you about your preference in movies? If you like the ones with car chases that could up your blood pressure. Or if you prefer weepy romances that could lower your mood. I think it's all part of The Master Plan.

  10. This is a common rip off. they get your information. Now my Doc goes by the heart disease in my family...none. So ldl is not a big factor.

  11. I've gotten very cynical about "free" offers - mostly they are, as Red says, a way to get information about us. Or there are too many hoops to jump through. "Nothing is free" really is true. Somebody somewhere (maybe even you!) is paying for it.

  12. No nothing is free. That’s a bit much and angers me. Not their biz. I’m sorry. Eat a yummy Thanksgiving dinner and screw the cholesterol for a night...