February 2002 my first day on the job at Cigna, at that point just happy to have a job. I had spent weeks working as a temp for various places ever since I was laid off of my previous employer as a customer service manager at EZ2Get.com (yes you can laugh at the name) who closed their doors after being directly affected by 9/11. It was an entry level job working in a call center. Taking information over the phone from customers to set up claims Short Term, Long Term Disability benefits, Worker’s Compensation and FMLA.
My trainer was Michael, I sat with him and watched him take calls and navigate through the claim software. Call after call. Basic questions were asked on this claim taking process like, “Who is your doctor?”, what date did you see him, what where you diagnosed with? When will you be released to return to work? About day three of job shadowing with Michael, I noticed a few things. The first was that a lot of these claimants were calling from the same corporations. I’m thinking, Gosh, is anyone working at these places? How is the business still open? I also noticed that many people suffer from back pain. The last thing I noticed from one question “Do you have any other notable medical conditions?” at least three-fourths of the callers responded with diabetes, hypertension, or depression.
Then 34 years old, I had lived a relatively healthy life to that point. My biggest issue was that my eyesight was worsening. I was in denial of this until three years upon attempting to renew my driver’s license and was forced to go get evaluated for corrective lenses. I wasn’t thinking about exercising. It wasn’t until I turned 40 or 41 that I figured I had better do something because I wasn’t getting any younger. Around that time, Cigna had moved into a state of the art building and inside it was a gym. I started using it, using the treadmill things caught on with running and you know the rest.
After a couple years I was a very tenured employee, had worn many hats, trained and coached many others and started a new role. Claim Manager. So now, I would actually get to know these people who call in with all of these ailments and be all up in their business and follow them from the time they stopped working, until the time they were recovered and ready to return to work. What it did, was open my eyes to why some people are always sick and why the healthcare industry is big business. After my initial training, I was assigned two major accounts which I would manage. I’m not sure if I can legally name the accounts on here but one was a Major financial institution and the other was a major company who makes aluminum foil, paper cups and containers so I won’t. The financial company had employees who were mostly sedentary office and the container company was mostly of factory workers who stood all day, ran machines, and did heavy physical work. Both sets of employees were on totally opposite sides of the spectrum.
The employees of the financial institution mainly missed work for pregnancy, back issues and mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. One thing I learned is the higher the salary or higher up the corporate ladder one is, the more likely I would get a mental claim from these folks. Not sure why that is, but this can be a separate blog or research project labeled Mo’ money, mo’ problems’ to quote the late great Notorious B.I.G. For the production account, it was mostly musculoskeletal stuff. Back, shoulders, knees. The issues were almost always due to the person having poor nutrition routine, overweight and no kind of exercise routine.
What point am I getting at? I have no idea, just putting out random thoughts. But yeah I can tie what I do at my job together with what I do when I’m not doing my job. I know when I talk to my claimants at work, I’m very thankful that I don’t have the medical issues that they have. And I pray for each and every one of them to find the right path to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. I’ll be 48 years old next month, but I feel the same as I did when I was 22. The only difference is that I can no longer stay up all night, party and work the next day like I used to. Sleep is too freaking good. But I think I can hang everywhere else with you young’uns. Ok maybe not everywhere. But I can still whoop yo’ ass.
I know some folks have ailments that can’t be cured, some can’t be treated. But things can be beated. Yeah I just made ‘beated’ a word. I read a post earlier today from one of my runner friends who beat cancer and has went on to run two 100 mile races and working on another now. Damn that inspired me. The human body is special. It will adapt to almost everything you throw at it. One of the things that stuck with me in my running certification coaching class was the instructor saying that if you continue to do the things that are uncomfortable, the will eventually become comfortable. I have been using that concept in running and everywhere else in life, and you know what, it’s true. He probably has no idea what that little statement has done to me.
OK enough rambling. My point is try to get to the best physical health that you can get to. I’m still trying to figure out the mental. Find something active that you like rather its running, tennis, walking a mile a day, Frisbee… just do something and get active. Find a friend that wants this lifestyle too and go into it together, it really helps. They say it takes about 3 weeks to turn a routine into a habit and that is about right because I just witnessed my wife get into an intense workout routine of the past few months. Honestly never thought it would happen with her, so yeah I gotta step my game up. I’m also blessed to have hundreds of friends at the Dallas Running Club for my support. There is nothing like being in good health, it’s the best feeling in the world. If God willing, I can keep myself at optimum until he calls me home.