The Hellness Assessment

Every November, I feel compelled to smash my computer and light the room on fire while completing my employer’s wellness assessment. The supposed purpose of the assessment is “to support your overall health and wellbeing”. In actuality, it raises my blood pressure and triggers hives and emotional instability. Nonetheless, I submit myself to its faceless insults in order to save $500 on my health insurance premium each year.

The assessment’s 50+ questions remind me that every aspect of my health sucks. As if I’ve forgotten. The “right answers” are obvious, but I am committed to living my authentic life and answer with unabashed honesty. Here’s an example:

Pain assessment

The assessment should have ended right there. They should have sent me a gift basket and left me alone.

But it continued:

  • Have you had a flu vaccine in the past year?
  • How much rigorous activity do you do in a week?
  • Do you eat high fiber foods?

I do not do any of these things, because they tend to send me to the ER. If the goal of this assessment is to lower my health costs, then I should be congratulated for not doing these things. Instead, the assessment ridicules me. “Eating healthy is like medicine – and you may want to try some of that medicine. Work more fruits, veggies, and whole grains into your diet to refuel your body and brain.” As if I shoved two colonoscopy tubes up my butt without trying eating healthy first? I bet these are the same people that think beans are a magical fruit.

At the end, the assessment tells me I am “going in the right direction” while simultaneously displaying a chart that shows I am “well below average”. Well, thank you for reminding me I’m merely surviving. My list of weaknesses includes nutrition, physical activity, pain and stress. Do you know what would lower my stress? Eliminating this damn assessment.

Finally, the assessment recommends a list of activities, or in my case, ways to die. At first, I was encouraged that this year’s assessment included a box to indicate a disability that limits physical activity. However, apparently it had no bearing on my results and the recommendations included biking to work every day.

There are two recommended activities that don’t threaten my physical health. However, one of them almost crushed my mental health: coaching from a certified nurse. Last year, I signed up for phone coaching with the hope of venting my frustration and holding someone accountable. On the first phone call, the nurse related what she learned about mast cell disease on Google. On the second phone call, she suggested more activities and I explained how each one would kill me. On the third phone call, she recommended I keep reading library books for pleasure and wished me luck. That was three hours of napping potential that I can never get back.

The other activity recommended by the wellness assessment, the one activity I am able and willing to do, is write an advance care directive. As if I wasn’t in a foul mood already.

Listen here, wellness assessment people:

I am enough despite your ableist assessment. Do not compare me to other people. Do not waste my time with your insulting questions and recommendations, while I fight bigger battles like ADA accommodations and access to medical care. I see more than a dozen doctors a year; it’s best to let the specialists make recommendations. I am a fabulous medical unicorn. I deserve infinite gold stars. And a gift basket.

4 thoughts on “The Hellness Assessment

  1. Uh, what would you like/be able to tolerate in said aforemetioned #GIFTBASKET? Cause you know they’d send you all the wrong things, dammit.

  2. Thank you! I, too, have received horrible advice from doctors and practitioners who have never heard of mast cell disorders. Exercise more, eat more protein (I only tolerate free form amino acids at the moment), and my personal favorite was when a hospitalist told me that I needed to see a therapist who was familiar with gut-brain disorders because I had no reason to think I had any type of mast cell-related problem. This, despite high N-Methyl-Histamine from a 24 hour urine test two months prior to admission to the hospital. The icing on that cake was that the day after I was discharged, the 24 hour urine test that my Rheumy ordered while I was in the hospital came back even higher than the previous test. And now I have a report in my medical record that strongly implies I’m nuts.
    Thankfully my hope is not in fallible man, but in Jesus. Benadryl helps, too. As does Ketotifen and Pepcid. All compounded by hand with no fillers. This is definitely an expensive problem to have.
    Not looking forward to the insurance “wellness program” questionnaire and coaching. They really hate it when I go off script.

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