Men: let’s talk for a minute. It’s June, and it’s Men’s Health Month. Do you know what that means? It means that, if you have not yet been in to see your primary care physician this year, you need to get there. I know many of us are reluctant to go to the doctor. In fact, studies show that men are half as likely to visit the doctor for a check-up as women are, and there are over 7 million American men who have not seen a doctor in over 10 years. I hope you are not one of them.
During a recent discussion with my primary care physician, he told me that one of the biggest differences he sees between male and female patients is that when he asks men “How are you?” the general answer is “I feel great!” He says, “If you don’t tell your doctor how you really feel, they can’t really help you.” He also noted that it’s important brush up on your health facts and family history and to listen to your body. Be sure to get regular checkups. Talk openly and honestly with your physician. Not only will you live longer, but you’ll also have a better quality of life. Even if you don’t feel “sick,” it’s important to see your doctor regularly and schedule annual exams.
Not convinced yet? Let me tell you a story. I was once "that guy." I didn’t like going to the doctor, and I thought I was invincible. I was in good shape, I ate well, I exercised, I wasn’t overweight, and in general, I felt great. There I was, four months into my 50th year of life, thinking I was in the best shape ever. Yet, at the urging of my wife, I finally gave in and went for an annual physical. Since I had not been to the doctor in a while, they did a full workup, including an electrocardiogram. The doctor said, “your cardiogram is normal, except there's one thing I see that looks out of place.” He sent me immediately for a stress test. The result of that stress test was the same. Everything seemed to look good except one small little “hiccup.” I was immediately sent to the hospital to have a heart catheter procedure done. During that procedure, the doctor found 3 blockages in my arteries. One at 96%, one at 90% and another at 89%. The next morning, I was on an operating table having a seven-hour triple heart bypass surgery to fix my heart. It’s been five and a half years now, and I feel great. I go for regular checkups with my primary care physician and cardiologists to make sure everything is in good working order. I still exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. The truth is, if I had not gone to the doctor that day, I most likely would not be writing this today.
Please be sure to take responsibility for your health, both physical and mental. Engage your physician on a regular basis. It doesn’t take much effort, and you might be surprised at how much better you feel.