The Cassandra Effect

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London)Recently, I’ve been identifying with Cassandra – you know, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba.  With her fair skin, curly red hair, and blue eyes, Greek mythology portrays her as intelligent, beautiful, charming, and elegant.  Check, check, check, and check. She is also shown as friendly, gentle and a great Scrabble player.  Oh, yeah – and insane.  I made up the Scrabble part, but the insane thing is totally there.  But, wait! She was insane for good reason.  Apollo.  (Wouldn’t you know that a man would be involved?) Because of her beauty, he gave her the gift of prophecy. But, he hit on her, she blew him off, he cursed her.  Her curse was that, although she could foresee the future, no one would believe her. Cassandra is the original queen of I Told You So.

Maybe it’s middle age. Maybe it’s new knowledge. Maybe it’s conceit.  Whatever the root, I seem to spend a great deal of time these days thinking, “If I had only known then what I know now.” With my new career, I have the zeal of a convert.  This new knowledge is fascinating and so very useful that I feel compelled to share it with people I know. Everyone I know.  Even the ones who don’t want to hear it. It’s possible that I’m the tiniest bit obnoxious about it.  Just the tiniest bit, mind you.

When I quit smoking, I never really became a non-smoker.  I didn’t become one of those who crinkled their noses at the smell of smoke or gazed condescendingly at smokers. Six years later, I sometimes gaze at them with jealousy, if you want to  know the truth, but never with condescension.  Oddly enough, I can’t say the same thing about food. I’ve gotten really weird about that.

Last month, I went to the Renaissance Festival because I still like to play dress-up and because they have Scotch eggs there. While there, I was nearly physically ill with what I saw – whole families of obese to morbidly obese people eating turkey legs, funnel cakes and fried potatoes.  The lines for the food vendors were ridiculous all day even though authenticity wasn’t on the menu – I’m pretty sure Elizabethan Brits didn’t wander around noshing on chocolate dipped cheesecake on a stick.  I watched as America’s future disabled stumbled around with hands holding literally thousands of calories.  Worse than the adults eating garbage were adults feeding garbage to already overweight children! The view from my high horse was truly amazing.

I’ve told you all I struggle and I lose (these days as often as I win, it seems); so, I’m seated squarely in the middle of a glass house here as far as food goes. I see health insurance rates rising. We all see the panic in the media; but what we don’t see are things we can actually do about it.  Losing weight and eating more wholesome foods are two things we can do to reduce our healthcare costs.  I don’t suspect it – I know it.

Before making these massive changes, I was in the doctor’s office at least once, if not twice, a month.  I didn’t feel good.  Various complaints, but the common thread was feeling tired and run down. Since changing my diet nearly two years ago, I have been to my family doctor…once.  For a rash on my nose.  Once.

We’ve got Medicare and Medicaid helping the retired and the needy in our society and we need those.  I wonder, though, how much health care for avoidable disabilities is costing those programs. I’m talking about people who are disabled because of poor lifestyle choices, not by genetics or misfortune but from diet and exercises choices they made.

The country is getting fatter.  This is a health crisis now; but, if we don’t address it, it’s going to be a financial one in the near future, as well.


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