A few weeks ago, I sent my wife the following text message:
I’m going to the doctor for a check-up.
She immediately responded back with:
Are u OK?
KayEm was concerned because this was my second appointment within six months. Like most men, I rarely go to the doctor unless something is seriously wrong with me. My making two appointments within a short period of time caused KayEm to believe that I was close to death. I assured her that this doctor visit was for a minor issue just like the last one was.
After I turned 40, I realized that I needed to take better care of myself and taking care of myself included regular check-ups. I attempted to schedule a check-up with my former doctor, but his staff couldn’t find my records.
“Are you sure you’re a patient,” the nurse asked.
“Yes, I’m a patient,” I said.
“When was your last visit?” she asked.
I thought for a minute and realized that I had no idea. I told the nurse that I didn’t remember and she asked me to hold on while she looked in the back.
Ten minutes later, she returned to the phone. “I found your records in the archives,” she said. “We store them there if a patient doesn’t make an appointment in five years.”
“It’s been five years since my last appointment?” I asked.
“Actually,” she said. “It’s been closer to six years and we’re not taking any more patients at this time.”
After the initial shock of being dumped by my doctor, I decided to find a new physician. One of KayEm’s friends gave me a referral, but I just took the information and never bothered to make an appointment until I discovered that a close friend of mine had colon cancer.
The worst part about his diagnosis was that he took too long to get to the doctor. If he had gone to the doctor when he first experienced symptoms, my friend would have needed less aggressive treatment. Fortunately, he has responded well to the treatment and is feeling much better.
My friend’s illness shook me to the core. As an African-American male, I am at risk for many ailments such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high-blood pressure. I knew that I had to find a doctor and schedule a thorough check-up as soon as possible.
I must admit that I did dawdle until I experienced the first minor medical problem. During the office visit, the doctor chastised me for waiting so long between visits and told me to schedule a full exam with the next few months. Although all of my manly pride resisted, I complied.
I had my blood pressure checked (a little too high), had a PSA test (negative) and the dreaded rectal exam (ouch!). If you are a dad over 40, I implore you to get a thorough exam and take care of yourself because your family needs you to be healthy.
Question: Are you getting regular medical check-ups?