Guess what, folks? It’s time for a reminder regarding your annual doctor’s visit and to get the healthcare system working for Dr. You. This begins by placing yourself in the center of the process of “patient-centric” care. Let’s start off by taking a look at Dr. You’s “Top Five Reasons For Going To a Yearly Check-Up”:
DR. YOU’S TOP FIVE REASONS FOR GOING TO A YEARLY CHECK-UP
1. Checking your blood pressure aids in the early detection of potential problems such as cardiovascular disease.
2. Blood tests can help in the early detection of many potential illnesses and diseases before symptoms occur, particularly dangerously high cholesterol and diabetes.
3. Other screenings, tests, and exams can detect diseases such as cancer early, when they are most treatable.
4. Your physician can observe improvements or declines in health that occur too gradually for you to detect.
5. It’s your chance to communicate face-to-face with your doctor about any new or persistent health issues, and that could save your life!
Please have a look at the above list and don’t just keep this top five list to yourself … encourage others to go to their yearly check-ups, too. Find a suitable way to tell them that this is more than a life-enhancing decision: it can be a life-saving decision. If someone were choking on a bite of food, would you just stand by? Of course not. Well, skipping regular check-ups can be just as dangerous.
The first step for you to take is getting off the sidelines and into the game. Make an appointment for your annual check-up (and keep it!). I’ve heard all the excuses for not doing so: “I’m too busy.” “My work schedule just won’t allow it right now.” “I feel great so I can skip a year.” No, no, no. Tell yourself that a check-up can save your life, because you know what? It absolutely can. It’s how doctors catch things early, when they’re most treatable.
Also note, it’s often best not to attend your yearly check-up alone.
If you can, bring a loved one or a friend (they can step out of the room at appropriate times). Why bother? Well, there can be a flood of information exchanged in a short period of time. Answers, treatments, and next steps can swirl together. By the time you get home, what was said can become as incomprehensible as a doctor’s handwriting.
If you’re alone, bring a pen and paper and take notes. More and more, the people I talk to are bringing a smart phone or e-tablet into the exam room to record a visit (with permission); don’t be shy about asking. Good doctors all have one thing in common: they want and admire smart, informed patients.
Let me say one final thing about check-ups. We all know that seat belts save lives – it’s been proven over and over again. Most reasonable people would agree that they represent one of the more important safety improvements we’ve seen over the course of our lives. Still, many of our generation often need a reminder to use seat belts. You know, that annoying “Ding! Ding! Ding!” we hear when we forget to buckle up? Well, I want you to hear that same alarm if your annual check-up is overdue. You can hear it in your head. Or better yet, be the spouse, relative, or friend who serves as a nagging reminder to others that a check-up can save a life.
Mounting research suggests that married men live longer than single men, and it has been attributed in part to the fact that their wives nag them to go to the doctor. (“Ding! Ding! Ding!”) And remember, Medicare and most insurance plans cover the cost of a yearly check-up, so there’s no financial reason not to go.
Bottom line: Dr. You has to get involved. Don’t be a mere passenger on the ship called health (remember the Titanic?). Climb into the wheelhouse and steer toward a better quality of life. Start by getting your check-up in the not-too-distant future.
“Ding! Ding! Ding!”
To read more of my health tips, order your copy of my book, “The Doctor In The Mirror”.