Guest Blogger: Melissa Hallenbeck
Melissa Hallenbeck works as a Health Educator for the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD). She has worked in the field of Social Service and Public Health for the last 16 years with a focus on women, families, and children. While working at the TLCHD, Melissa’s work has focused primarily on Policy, System, and Environmental Change. Such projects include Eat Fresh Live Well healthy corner store initiative as well as infant mortality and pre-conception health with Healthy Start and Maternal Child Health Grants.
Melissa’s current projects include educating families and the public about SUID prevention and safe sleep as well as engaging with work-sites to facilitate and implement policies and activities for women’s wellness.
Melissa has a passion for public health and social well-being of all people and society. She is a board member of the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center, former Chair and President of Safe Kids Greater Toledo, and volunteers her time as a Sunday school teacher at her church. In her spare time Melissa likes to watch documentaries, crochet, garden, and host game nights.
In my 20s and 30s and even today (I’m 40), I’ve had a hard time trying to justify to myself going to the doctor. I’m healthy, feel good, and hate taking time off of work for what felt like nothing but a hassle and an extra pinch on my pocketbook.
So what made me realize that preventative care actually is worth it? Well we have to go back a few years, in my early 30s I started having back problems and started going to the chiropractor and then doing yoga. All was well and I kept up my appointments like I was supposed to, then I started feeling great and completely stopped all of the above. Now fast forward a few years and low and behold I completely threw my back out vacuuming, yes I said vacuuming, and vacuuming my stairs at that! It was so bad that I missed 2 full days of work and then the last 3 days of the week only could work a few hours. Not only did I eat up my sick time but I also was going to the chiropractor 2x/day with co-pays each time and barely able to walk, go to the bathroom, or do virtually anything in-between aka goodbye fresh produce that I couldn’t reach down to get out of my bottom fridge drawer. That’s when I realized preventative care would have actually saved me so much time and money, not wasted it!
According to an article in Aplus, “Across all ages women are more likely to put off preventative care than men.” Often times we are so worried about everyone else that we put ourselves last, but in reality if we aren’t healthy it makes it hard for us to take care of those that we love. The article points out the importance of establishing a baseline so we can learn if our health is getting worse and hopefully we can nip it in the bud before our health snowballs out of control. According to the 2017 Lucas County Health Assessment 66% of women in Lucas County are overweight and 30% were diagnosed with high blood pressure. The rates for African American women were even higher.
Now this gets me thinking about how I’m 40 and still hoping to be able to have a baby in the near future. I’m considered “geriatric”, (seriously!), and I’ve learned that my health now actually can affect the health of my baby long before I’m even pregnant. The CDC states that “For babies, preconception health means their parents took the steps to get healthy before pregnancy. Such babies are less likely to be born early or have low birthweight. They are more likely to be born without birth defects or other disabling conditions.”
So now I have a legit excuse to care for myself because not only can I have a hand in preventing some major health issues for myself, but also for the health of my future little one(s).