Should I Go To the Doctor? by Stuart MacEwan
I get asked every week about medical issues that run the gamut between back pain, muscle pulls, rashes, hormone, endocrine issues, and digestive troubles. My advice is usually the same, go see a physician. This isn’t a dismissal of a client’s concern, but instead is true to my belief in always seeking good advice from the best source possible.
Should we only see the Doctor when we are sick? Should we wait until we are in great pain? I’d like to propose that both my clients and I should treat visits to the doctor in the same way that we treat visits to the dentist, as both treatment and prevention. Let’s think it through.
If the doctor only sees you when you are sick, he must diagnose you without knowing your normal healthy state. He or she doesn’t have anything to compare your sick self to your regularly healthy (or not so healthy) state. Imagine the extra challenge of correctly diagnosing an issue for a patient if you don’t have much of a history with that patient. Now, compound the difficulty of this impaired diagnosis with the all to often case of only having one shot at working with a patient to get to the root of their issue. Nobody likes going to the doctor, much less going back many times, so we have an expectation that they need to get the answer right the first time because we may not come back for a follow-up. That’s not a great way to get the help a patient needs.
Now let’s look at another way of approaching our health/illnesses/doctors’ visits. Let’s say we make a regular annual appointment to our general practitioner every year (just like we do 6 month cleaning appointments with the dentist). We let our family doctor examine us, draw blood and run a profile, take our vitals for comparison and give advice on how to improve our health until our next regular visit. We encourage our doctor get to know us by seeing them every year. How much easier would it be for the physician to then diagnose an issue if we give them the chance to compare our sick selves to our regularly healthy selves? What a better chance of catching a potential illness early in its development, rather than treating it when it became advanced from being unnoticed or ignored?
A good example of making this a smart medical practice is to go see your dermatologist every year. Most skin cancers are easily treated by cryotherapy or excision if caught early enough. Your dermatologist would love to examine you every year in order to examine your moles, blotches, and funny spots. They will measure your potential skin issues and then map them on their documentation for future comparison. This will help identify any potential unchecked growths and will allow for speedy diagnosis and treatment in the future. As Benjamin Franklin once wrote “A stitch in time saves nine”.
Here are a few suggestions for developing healthy relationships with your doctors.
See your primary family doctor 1x a year for a full checkup. Ask if you should do blood work to check your cholesterol and liver functions. Get your vitals checked and compare the results to last year. Make a goal to improve your vitals and cholesterol year after year to reach your best possible health. Ask your doctors’ advice for improvement and then put it in action.
See your dermatologist 1x a year to have a full skin exam. Get your funny spots measured and mapped. Ask your doctor for advice on how to take care of your skin and identify potential skin lesions and possible cancerous growths. The goal is to catch potential issues very early here.
See your dentist 2x a year for your cleanings. Ask about how to improve on your daily cleaning habits. Put his advice into immediate practice. Did you know that dental disease has a major impact on your immune system and therefore can retard your results from exercise? Take care of your teeth, and your body will respond with better gains!
Some other options are to see a Dietitian or Nutritionist to get advice yearly on your nutrition. This is obviously health related and can directly affect your fitness progress. See if your insurance will cover this proactive step. It’s a much cheaper treatment than getting a quadruple bypass later in life.
Don’t wait until your relationship is in trouble to get counseling. Go see a counselor now while everything is still pretty good. It’s never a bad idea to work on bettering your communication skills and implementing more relationship solving tools into your marriage tool-belt. It’s a very wise investment in time, emotional distress and money. Counseling is cheap compared to divorce. Ask anyone.
In summary, I’d like to encourage you to be proactive in taking care of yourself. Start making appointments with your health professionals this month. Take good care of yourself. You have insurance for a reason; you might as well use it to cover the basics. You will thank me when you are 80 years old and still kicking around like a spry 50 year old.