Right after we got back from visiting family at Christmas in 2014, I came down with what I thought was a really bad cold. I crashed on the sofa for a few days while Scott waited on me, bringing me a steady supply of hot orange tea and switching Netflix shows when I couldn’t even summon the energy to queue up a new episode.
I milked that pampering as long as I could, but after a couple of days of misery and a temperature that climbed above 101 – I decided it was probably time to go to the doctor. Since it was the night before New Year’s Eve, there was no way I could see my regular physician. So, I dragged myself off the sofa and to a nearby urgent care center – where I was promptly diagnosed with the flu, given a prescription and sent home to bed.
In and out in about half an hour. And the bill? Less than half of what it would have been had I gone to my doctor.
Sidebar: Yes, I had gotten a flu shot earlier in September – something I do each and every fall. But this was the year that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported the vaccine formula was a poor match for the influenza strain – so many of us who were vaccinated still got sick, although my case was actually fairly mild.
That experience turned me into a big fan of urgent care centers for non-emergency needs like the flu, colds, minor sprains or injuries, etc. Happily, I haven't needed to go back - but you never know. For true emergencies, though, an ER is definitely the way to go.
That is why I am excited to team up with GoHealth Urgent Care this month to spread the word about American Heart Month. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women – contributing to one in four deaths each year, according to the CDC – this is a great time to get in the habit of making this the month to monitor your risk. It's also Valentine month - how perfect is that for timing for taking care of your heart and your sweet's heart?
Here are a few heart health tips they offer - all of which you can do on your own or with your sweetie:
Take a walk. Living in New York City – and not owning a car – means we routinely walk a lot, whether it is running to the grocery store or dry cleaners, going for a walk in nearby Central Park, or climbing up and down stairs for the subway. That’s definitely good for me, since I get a little stir-crazy if I am stuck at my desk for several hours. I also walk around airports between flights, since sitting in a tiny space for hours saps the energy out of me. I don’t know about you, but walking or any exercise frees my mind to solve problems, generate creative ideas, cure writer’s block – or just put me in a better mood if I’m feeling a little blah. Whether you walk in a neighborhood park, run errands or walk briskly on the treadmill at the gym – it can do wonders for mental and physical health.
Grab a handful of berries. Keeping a healthy diet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor. There are plenty of yummy heart-healthy options, such as berries, salmon, nuts – even small amounts of dark chocolate. We always have cartons of blueberries in our fridge. And I could eat salmon several times a week, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes to keep Scott from getting bored with it. Here is one of our current favorites, a Honey Pecan Salmon recipe from a friend’s blog.
Know your heart. Every body is different, and it’s important to know how yours is working. From now through February 18, GoHealth Urgent Care is offering free blood pressure readings, body mass index (BMI) calculations and waist circumference measurements – a few of the stats that are important indicators of heart health and wellness. They have centers in New York and Portland, Oregon metropolitan areas, the San Francisco Bay Area, and coming soon to Hartford, Connecticut, so if you’re in one of those cities, you can just drop into a center or check-in online to see what the wait times are. I shared a bit more about the screenings in this recent segment on CBS San Francisco.
What are some other ways you like to show your heart a little love?