Browsing Category Health

Things Nobody Told You About Food Delivery Services

I knew it! I would have sworn on a stack of courtroom Bibles that when people order food for delivery, the drivers sometimes tamper with the food. Even if they do nothing more than peek inside the container, that’s a no-no.

Some recent media outlets and a report broadcast this morning on HLN’s Weekend Express confirmed what I have long suspected and did not need a study by US Foods to reveal. That one in four food delivery drivers, 28 percent, admit to tasting or even taking a bite out of the food before delivering it to the unsuspecting purchaser.

Do you order from a food delivery app? I used a food delivery service only once. That was a couple of years ago. After the driver of UBER eats took an unusually long time to deliver my food, I contacted the eatery from which the food was purchased and learned that the driver had left there 30 minutes earlier. I knew this place well enough to know that it should have taken the driver no more than 15-20 minutes to drive to my home. Shortly after I hung up from talking with the counter clerk, the UBER eats driver called to say that he had gotten lost and would arrive shortly. Really? I thought. (Wide-eye roll.)

I was watching from my window and could see his car when it pulled into the lot. The driver didn’t see me when I first walked outside to retrieve my food. He was too busy talking and laughing with the female passenger seated beside him. Both of them were smoking cigarettes. As soon as he saw me approaching, he hurriedly climbed out of the car and greeted me as did the stench of cigarette smoke following him. He flashed a huge phony smile, opened the rear door, and took out my food that was browned-bagged and sitting on the back seat alongside two others. He handed it to me. Through tight-lips, I mumbled, “Thanks.” Then I tucked the tip folded in my hand, that he would have received, into the pocket of my jeans.

“Never again,” I promised myself as I walked back inside.

I immediately lifted the lid on the Styrofoam container and began inspecting my meal to try and determine if it had been tampered with; of course, I had no way of knowing for sure. What I noticed when lifting the container out of the bag is that the bag reeked of cigarette smoke.

That is the only time I have used a food delivery service. Since my one unpleasant experience with UBER eats, I don’t feel comfortable having ready-to-eat meals delivered. I admit that I periodically order Chinese food from a neighborhood carry out that I have frequented for years. My food is always delivered by one of the employees. Usually, it’s the same friendly older man who has been there for some time.

If you use food delivery apps and have never thought about it before, ask yourself, how would you know if your delivery driver snacked on a few fries or had a sip of your drink on the way to your home? Most likely, you wouldn’t.

NPR.org reports that “When asked if they minded if their driver snagged a few fries, the average customer response was an 8.4 out of 10; one represented ‘no big deal,’ and ten signified ‘absolutely unacceptable.’” As I see it, tasting aside, even opening the container is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!

As restaurant business owners are beginning to understand the problems involved with food delivery, the foodservice industry is working to address these concerns by developing tamper-evident packaging for to-go meals. Some businesses seal takeout containers with a peel-off sticker over the lid or an adhesive that will tear the bag holding the container when opened. Some containers have plastic seals that have to be broken to remove the food and cannot be replaced or resealed once that seal is broken. Tamper-evident does not necessarily mean tamper-proof, but I suppose anything is better than nothing.

In our busy world, everyone is looking for ways to save time and energy. Not having to come home after a busy workday and prepare dinner is certainly one way of doing that. Surely, anytime you don’t feel like cooking, a nice hot pizza delivered to your door is too tempting to refuse. Food delivery is convenient, and it is probably here to stay, but we all know human nature and the nature of some unscrupulous humans is fouler then rotting meat. People must understand the risks and realize that their food could be minus a few bites when it arrives. And if you are inclined to bless your meal, pray that the culprit had clean hands and no disease transmittable through saliva.

 

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You Can’t Handle the Tooth

I am not looking forward to tomorrow. Correction, at my age, I am always looking forward to tomorrow because every tomorrow that I wake up is another day that I am blessed to be above ground. What I am not looking forward to on the coming day is another trip to the dentist. The truth is, the cost of dental visits is getting to be the bane of my existence. In plain English, dental care is too darn expensive.

A year ago, after I recovered from having my last wisdom tooth pulled, I promised myself that there would no more dentist visits. I would dutifully continue to brush and floss the hell out of my mouth, but I’ve had it with going to the dentists. So, I said.

There is no question that dentists, endodontists, orthodontists, periodontists, and every other “ist” in the dental profession charge too much. No wonder there are so many gap tooth, snaggletooth, missing teeth, and no teeth people nearly everywhere you look. I’m not saying this to be shaming people who cannot afford regular dental care. I empathize with them. But for the grace of God, I could be in the same situation.

If you never go to a dental visit, don’t fool yourself into thinking that if nothing in your mouth hurts you are fine. Not necessarily. I know that from firsthand experience. I also know that dental care is ridiculously expensive. Over time, consistent and proper dental maintenance cost more than a full set of dentures. According to estimates provided by Healthcare Blue Book, medium pricing for a set of dentures start at around $1,300 and goes up from there.

My pending dental visit prompted me to do some research on how much I have laid out for dental care over the years. Although I have been going for regular visits to the same dentist since the mid-1980s, unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to save every receipt. It was only in early 2014 that I decided to create a “Dental Receipts” file and save everything related to dental care. A few days ago, I pulled out that folder from the small, two-draw file cabinet that contains records for all of my household expenses – insurance, receipts for furniture and appliance purchases; warranties, stuff like that.

Grabbing my calculator, I began totaling all of my dental receipts. In addition to the receipts in the folder, I found a half dozen or so others dating back as far as 2001, that I retrieved from an old purse, a dresser drawer, a too-small pair of jeans, and a few other places.

The majority of the receipts were for dental services from 2/19/2014 through 7/16/2019. They covered expenses for regular cleanings, x-rays, fillings, scaling, a couple of root canals, a crown, and a wisdom tooth extraction. The total for all of the dental expenses that I still have receipts for is (rounded off) $12,000.00. I began getting regular dental care with my current dentist around 1985, so, (although I don’t have receipts to verify it) I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that from the mid-8os to the present I’ve probably invested at least $20,000 in dental care. For those who don’t know it, cleaning alone will run you over a hundred dollars, full mouth x-rays (necessary to locate cavities and other defects), will cost you a couple of Benjamins.

As I said earlier, dental care is expensive, but it doesn’t require a dentist to convince wise people that nothing beats having your own teeth. You can have the prettiest set of dentures or implants that money can buy, still there “ain’t nothing like the real thing.” Cosmetic dentist, Dr. Thomas P. Connelly reminds people of that in his article, “Think Dentures Can Replace Your Teeth? Think Again.”  He also advises that “Many dentists have payment plans, they take credit cards, there is secondary insurance, etc. I’m not advocating getting into debt — I am advocating that there are few things as important as your natural teeth. They are worth the investment.”

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Grandma Ninja Warrior

Each year, a local TV station sponsors a Health and Fitness Expo where no-cost wellness classes and health screenings are available to attendees. There are also hands-on activities including endurance events to challenge health enthusiasts like me.

In years past, I have participated in exercises from aerobic to yoga; but the thing that beckons me most is the rock wall. You might think that a card-carrying AARP member might shy away from something so rigorous. No so, I enjoy a challenge. So upon arriving in the exhibit hall early Saturday morning, I headed straight for the rock wall. Game on!

Before a participant is strapped into the safety harness and allowed to climb the wall, we are required to sign a waiver. It warns that if I should fall and break a bone, sustain some other bodily injury, or worse yet, drop dead – while not acting my age – the contract absolves the promoter of any liability. After signing the waiver, a red, one-inch wide band, similar to the band you receive in a hospital emergency room, was placed around my wrist indicating that I had signed my life over to Divine Providence. Also, in case I wanted to try the climb again later or attempt some other age-defying stunt, I would simply show the band to the staff person.

A previous attempt and failure to scale the wall two years ago made me more determined to try again. With true grit, I was able to propel myself a few stones higher this time. The Lat Pulldown and other strength building gym machines had helped me build my upper body strength, but it wasn’t enough. I was about four feet off the ground when my calves started cramping forcing me to end my quest and indicating that I should have spent more time stretching.

As I walked away from the wall, feeling defeated but not dejected, I glanced back to see a young boy who looked to be about ten years old ascending that wall like Spider-Man on a mission.

Geared up for another challenge I went in search of the Spartan exhibit. Days earlier I had watched a young reporter on TV demonstrate the Spartan race and I told myself “I can do that.”

Unlike the real 3-4 mile Spartan race with its many obstacles and competitors, the Spartan course at the expo is a scaled-down, mini-version. The first thing a contestant does is warm up by running 30 seconds on a curved treadmill. Then, the objective is to go through each obstacle on the course as fast as you can. Since I wasn’t competing against anyone but myself, time didn’t concern me. My goal was simply to conquer each obstacle.

After getting off the treadmill, I walked (did not run) to the first wooden wall, it was approximate four-feet high. The struggle to climb over it took me approximately 5 minutes. (I could have walked around it, but that would have defeated the purpose, would it not?) Next came the bear crawl. That was easy. I scooted beneath the mock-barbed wire fence in about 60 seconds. After exiting the bear crawl, I was supposed to run to and climb over a higher, inclined wall. That wall was twice my height, at least 10 feet. After two earnest attempts, I walked around and found myself facing another wall. It was 7 feet. Pass! The final task was to pull myself up on a rope mounted to a post and ring the bell at the top. Sound easy? It wasn’t.

The two young men on the staff, who shadowed me along the course probably had a good laugh about my senior version of the Spartan crawl, er, I mean race after I left, but throughout my effort, they were encouraging and even gave me a high-five as I strolled across the finished line.

I’m not dismayed that I failed to complete the Spartan course. Completing two out of five obstacles wasn’t bad. I enjoyed every challenging minute. Later that Saturday evening I had some muscle aches, and pains in places that I didn’t know could have aches and pains, proof that I had pushed my body. I think I’m hooked now on the Spartan course.

My cousin, Rai, told me that she is planning to do the real Spartan race. She’s athletic and half my age. I know she will finish the course. I’ll just wait until next year’s expo and try the mini version again.

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Reeling from Drugstore Sticker Shock

Some people tend not to care about anything that doesn’t directly affect them, for instance, the insane cost of pharmaceutical drugs. Any frequent user of medication for hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. would agree that without medical insurance coverage, those drug costs are too expensive for the average person and absolutely unaffordable for others.

I had first-hand experience with the outrageous cost of prescription drugs, a few weeks ago when a small itchy spot suddenly appeared on my arm. At first, I ignored it, thinking that it would soon go away. When the spot became more annoying, I visited my dermatologist. He examined the area, determined it to be a minor skin irritation, and then prescribed a cream for me to apply daily until it cleared up.

Before continuing home, I stopped at the pharmacy to get the prescription filled. The pharmacist looked young enough to be a high school student, but her pleasant demeanor was mature and professional. When I asked her to make sure that my insurance would cover the prescription before she filled it, she obligingly entered the required information into the computer and after a few seconds told me, “I’m sorry they won’t cover it.”

“How much will it cost if I pay for it?” I asked innocently; well, not exactly innocently. Being cognizant of the controversy and frequent media reports in JAMA and other sources, I am aware of the outrageous cost of many prescription drugs. But how much could a small tube of ointment cost? Twenty dollars, $30 at most. The pharmacist entered additional info into the computer and then stared too long (I thought) at the monitor.

I begin feeling uncomfortable, but my anxiety heightened when she looked at me with the culpable gaze that a child displays to a parent after doing something that he or she knows is wrong. The only thing missing was the “Uh oh!” but she didn’t say it. There was just that pregnant pause of deafening silence between us until I chuckled and asked: “Is it that bad?”

She hesitated for a few seconds longer as if preparing to tell me that someone had died. Certainly, this wasn’t the first time she had to deliver bad news, but apparently, she didn’t relish doing it. I dropped my smile, raised my eyebrows, and tilted my head slightly to one side like a curious puppy. “Hit me,” I said.

Almost in a whisper, she said, “Without insurance, it’s $600.”

After I mentally picked myself up off the floor, I said aloud, but mainly to myself. “Are they crazy?”

I sensed real empathy as she cautiously asked, “Should I fill it?”

I wanted to say, “Hell, no.” But more politely, I said, “Would you call my doctor and see if he would recommend a generic brand that the insurance will cover.”

“Of course.” She walked a short distance away to a desk holding the telephone and made the call while I waited. Upon returning she told me that a recording had come on saying that the office was closed between 1 and 2 pm. The wall clock behind her showed 1:05. I remembered that the small staff took lunch during that hour and told her so. She said that she would try again later and would call me.

Around 2:30, the dermatologist’s assistant called me. She said that as she told the pharmacist there is no generic brand for that particular medication. Then she added that she could place a call to a mail order pharmacy that they use. “Their prices are much lower than the drugstores, she explained before adding, “The procedure is that you pay over the phone with a credit or debit card and the medication will be mailed to you. They fill most prescriptions for about $35 or less and you’ll receive it in a day or two.”

I agreed to that arrangement and later received a call from the mail-order pharmacy to get my consensus. Aside from a snag that was no fault of the drug provider (Blame UPS. Their excuse – bad weather delay one day and an attempted delivery – to the wrong address – the next.) I finally received the small package containing a 30g tube of cream.

It is generally believed that the greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans and my thinking is that is truer than true.

Cost aside, I have what some may think is a precarious habit of always reading the list of potential side-effects on any medication that may go on or into my body. That is exactly what I did after I opened the box containing the cream.

The instructions included possible side effects: severe burning of treated skin; could cause warts, lesions, blistering, swollen glands, sore throat; fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms or worsened skin symptoms. Nope! I told myself before tossing the unopened tube into my nightstand drawer. I decided to try another remedy instead.

About a year ago, when I had a similar skin erosion, the assistant to that dermatologist had told me that she finds that Aquaphor is excellent for curing minor skin disorders. I went right out and bought a 14-ounce jar which cost $14. Yes, yipe!

Aquaphor is a “dermatologist recommended” ointment that contains petrolatum, not petroleum jelly. It looks like Vaseline, but unlike Vaseline, it contains several medicinal ingredients.

I located my jar of Aquaphor and began using it. Had I remembered that I had it before going to the dermatologist, I would probably have tried it first. Within three days the itchy rash cleared up. It’s been nearly three weeks now and it hasn’t returned. This is not an advertisement for Aquaphor, but I honestly admit, it works for me.

The point is that the outrageously high cost of medications is so extensive that lawmakers like Senator Bernie Sanders are proposing and supporting legislation to combat it. And videos like the one below are being made to keep attention focused on the problem.

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Black Like Who? Some Folks are Dying to be White

Under the new norm, anything goes, and few things are taboo. It seems like nothing is a given anymore. Before sex reassignment surgery if you were born male or female most likely, you lived and died that way. A medical or cosmetic procedure can now alter nearly every natural human feature. Laser surgery can permanently change eye color. Hair — that’s a no-brainer, think color, weaves or extensions. There are makeovers available for one’s BBF – breasts, butt, and fingernails. And Black people who so desire can change their skin color. That’s right. If you are a person of color and you dislike your appearance, you don’t have to stay that way.

“Say it Loud, I’m Black, and I’m Proud” was a 1968 hit song with a strong meaning by “the Godfather of Soul” James Brown. Sometimes, it seems as though Brown’s message of Black pride did not filter down to some Blacks in post-boomer generations.

Numerous high profile Black people are believed to have whitened their skin. Most notable is pop star, Michael Jackson. Some of the Braxton’s, fashion model Iman, rappers Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj are only a few among a growing list of celebrities who have chosen to shed their darkness and lighten up.

There are various ways to lighten dark skin. Glutathione treatments are popular. Depending on where you get the treatment, how many shots you take, and the maintenance doses required to keep you looking light and bright, the cost of regular injections can range from several hundred dollars to as much as $4000 per treatment. Skin-lightening can also have dire consequences.

In spite of the risk and cost, skin-lightening is not done exclusively by the rich and famous.

Glutathione treatments, bleaching creams, and other skin-lightening treatments are popular, not only in the U.S. but in other countries, as well, including India, Asia, and Jamaica where lighter skin tones are perceived as more beautiful than darker skin.

Although some skin-lightening crèmes are deemed to be dangerous because they contain mercury and cancer-causing chemicals, that doesn’t prevent the industry that sells the products from enjoying a booming business.

Many Blacks see skin-lightening as a rejection of black identity. What is it that causes some Black people to abhor their dark skin? Is it self-esteem? Vanity?  Mental illness? Anti-dark skin color bias and the notion that life and living are much easier when you are light or darn near white is an assumption that stems from slavery and racists propaganda.

How about you? Are you are a dark-skinned Black person reading this, if so, are you comfortable with who you are or are you shameless about changing skin color? Do you believe that dark skin color is the black man’s burden?

If you are conflicted, perhaps you will find some understanding about the subject in this stunning and sometimes graphic video. It includes a wealth of information concerning everything from the reasoning behind skin-lightening to the famous doll test. Teachers will certainly be familiar with the doll test. Set aside 20 minutes because once you start watching this video, you won’t want to turn it off.

 

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