26 November 2008

Seen your family Doctor lately?

If there is one important lesson that life and experience has taught me, it’s never to take your health for granted. Money may come and go, relationships may wax and wan, but your health is the one thing that will see you through it all. Perhaps I grew up with this attitude because my mother is a nurse, or maybe it comes from watching loved-ones suffer from disease or disability, but health has always been a top priority in my life. Sadly, however, it’s amazing how many people neglect this important aspect of life. Sometimes it seems as though folks are more concerned with annual checkups for their cars, rather than setting foot in a doctor’s office for a physical examination.

Time and time again, I’ve heard friends (even my own sibling) argue, “Why go to the doctor unless something is bothering you?” The answer is painfully obvious – the human body is a mystery and even though you may feel healthy as a horse, you never know what is lurking beneath the surface. I don’t mean to sound dismal but ignorance is not always bliss; it’s plain stupidity. Look at it this way, a 30-minute visit to your family doctor once a year could end up buying you a few extra years on this earth. Ask anyone who has been diagnosed or treated for cancer, I’m sure they could shed some light on the topic.

Why am I spouting off about health today? Why do I feel so strongly about the topic? Let’s just say that I certainly wasn’t aware that I had an odd node in my neck. I walked into my annual physical yesterday afternoon for the routine checkup and came out with a requisition for a neck/thyroid ultrasound and blood work. Does this mean that something serious is going on? No; I may be perfectly fine. On the other hand, the node is not normal and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Had I not had my annual physical, I would not be aware of this potential issue. If I rested on my laurels and simply waited for an obvious problem to confront me, it could be a case of too little too late.

I’m not encouraging folks to backlog an already overstretched healthcare system. Leave your sniffles and sneezes at home. However, in a country where we are fortunate enough to have universal healthcare, it’s not unreasonable to book one physical examination each or every two years. Life is too precious for negligence.

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