In the daily scrum, preventative medical treatments are often relegated to the very back burner. Things like dentist check-ups, annual doctor visits, mammograms and prostate checks are often the very last things to make it onto busy schedules. Depressingly, a recent study found that, of the people who have preventive care benefits available through their medical plans, only 10% actually use them. That means the overwhelming majority, the other 90%, aren’t making the time to get routine exams like mammograms and prostate screenings, or lab work to check their cholesterol and blood sugar. They don’t enroll in an exercise class or a disease management program. Not even when their health plans cover all or most of the costs. If you happen to be part of that 90%, isn’t about time you started making your own health a priority?
Sarah on “De Nile ‘Ain’t Just a River”
“Burying your head in the sand is sadly not an effective technique for staving off maladies. If you’re one of the millions who choose not to get regularly screened in part because you don’t have any symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re healthy. Screening technology available today, such as MRI’s and blood tests, can detect things like heart disease years before any symptoms appear. If you catch something like that early enough, doctors are likely to be able to treat and even reverse the problem with less invasive techniques, without expensive hospitalization, and with fewer doctor visits. That certainly sounds more pleasant than the alternative.”
Alicia on “Fear Factor”
“A lot of people, myself included, shy away from even routine doctor visits because they can be scary. Remember when you were little how the thought of the needle was always worse than the actual shot? Well just because you’re grown-up now doesn’t mean that has changed! What has changed is your ability to skip the doctor visit – no mom or dad standing over you to make you go. What you need are some techniques to overcome your fear and get yourself to the examination room, such as having someone else play ‘mom’ and book the appointment for you – no excuses.”
Here are a few ways to move yourself to the top of your priority list – and get your health Buttoned Up.
1. Schedule Everything This Week!
Before this week is out, take five minutes to make a list of all the preventative care appointments you need to make: routine checkups and labs, dentist visits, skin cancer screens, mammograms and/or colonoscopies. Then grab a calendar, look a few weeks or months ahead to find some windows where you aren’t too booked up, and then grab a phone and schedule the appointments.
2. Plan Around Your Fears
If you know you avoid the doctor because you are afraid of either procedures that might cause pain or scary things the doctor might find, buddy up with a friend, a parent, or spouse. Swap appointment making chores (you book theirs, they book yours) and even have them come with you on the big day. Consider taking one full day off to get everything done. Not only will it mean you only have one day of anxiety – but you may even overcome some of your fears because of the desensitization that comes with multiple doctor’s visits in one day.
3. Picture Yourself in 10 Years
Close your eyes and picture yourself as you’d like to be a decade from now. How does that picture change if you skip the routine check-ups and make yourself your last priority? Consider that regular visits with your doctor make it easier for her to spot even small changes that might be signals of more serious disease. Catch them early enough and you and your doctor are much more likely to be able to make manageable changes that literally can save your life.