Getting Needed Care – Just Do It

IMG_0142 2Even doctors need doctors, but it’s easy to put off the annual checkup, especially if you’re busy like most of us are these days. An additional hurdle for me has been our recent move to Orlando, which necessitated finding a new primary care physician and several new specialists. It hasn’t gone smoothly, although, like always, I’ve been a large part of my own problem here.   After a few false starts and much procrastination, I finally decided to go back to all of my old doctors in Melbourne.

This means I have to drive about 80 to 90 minutes for appointments, but I’m reasonably healthy, so physician visits should be few and far between. Also, as I’ve been happy to travel that far for a football game or other one-day events, it seems like I should be willing to do the same for my own health. Even spending a few of my vacation days each year on healthcare seems reasonable to me. What’s my vacation time for anyway? Certainly some of it is worth investing in my health, and regular medical care is as important to that as is leisure time.

So I took a day off in December to get a routine “annual” physical. After a comprehensive history and examination, the doctor confirmed my basic good health but recommended the shingles vaccine, which I got that day, and also a colonoscopy, which I got yesterday. Now it’s pretty easy to talk yourself out of a colonoscopy, but I avoided the many (and legitimate) reasons I could have used to put it off.

I’ll skip describing the bowel prep (which wasn’t as bad as some make out) and the fear of having a procedure in general, and just say that it went well, but that when I woke up I was surprised to find that I had a colonic polyp. I don’t know why I should be surprised. Discovering polyps, which can be precancerous lesions, is the reason that colonoscopies are recommended for us middle-aged people in the first place.

Having a polyp is bad! But having a polyp removed by colonoscopy is good! I’ll find out more on the significance of this particular polyp in a week or so when the pathology results are back, but today I’m just glad I had the procedure. As you know, I can be very skeptical of “Big Healthcare.” There is a lot of marketing hype, over-promising, upselling, and under-delivering in American healthcare today. But beneath the hype, there is a core of committed, caring people delivering valuable services including physical exams, shingles vaccines and colonoscopies.

In my view, many people get way too much healthcare. But others, including people like myself, are at risk of getting too little. If that’s you, stop putting off the physical exam, the immunizations or the needed procedures. Make the time to get what you need to maintain your health. As Nike recommends, just do it! You’ll be glad you did. I am.

Breakfast afterwards -  the most enjoyable part of the colonoscopy

Breakfast afterwards – the most enjoyable part of the colonoscopy