30 DAYS TO BE A BETTER MAN: (19) SCHEDULE A PHYSICAL EXAM

ROTTERDAM – .. so you’re sure you don’t have cancer.

Men are reluctant to pay a visit to the man in the white coat. Studies have shown that more than half of the men in the United States have not been to see a doctor in the past year. And 55% of men admit that they are reluctant to visit the doctor. When we do go, we usually wait until we’re missing an arm or have a javelin stuck through our head.

Men don’t like to admit they are unhealthy. Because being a man means being strong, and being strong means being healthy. He will rather cough out his lungs than admit to not feeling *very well*.

(…) men avoid the doctor is that we’ve been socialized since childhood to believe that being a man means sucking it up when you have an illness or injury. Going to the doctor for some men means admitting that you’re weak and defected, and, thus, unmanly.

.. which is stupid. Luckily for us, the Art of Manliness seems, for once, to recognize sheer stupidity in the face of stupidity. I’m not even sure whether this is the case anymore, though. To me, the tendency to pretend you’re okay when you’re actually sick was eradicated a generation ago.

Fine, there’s still the someone-kicks-your-knee-during-football-and-your-crush-is-watching-so-you-walk-it-off, but I have never ever felt the need to pretend I wasn’t sick when I actually was sick.

So maybe it’s not the manliness. I once didn’t go to the dentist for 2.5 years, – and I’m not even one of those people who have a dentist-phobia. It’s one of those things in life that are on some to-do list somewhere, but you always end up not doing it. Like cancelling those newsletters from websites you were stupid enough to sign up for, or reading all those books on your reading list. You want to do it, you’re planning on doing it, just not now.

I think physical exams work exactly the same way. There’s no urgency unless you’re sick (and you don’t really get a full health check if you have a bad flu), and you’re got other stuff to do, like bingewatch Game of Thrones or fold the laundry or do your homework:

There are a few reasons why men don’t visit the doctor on a regular basis.  One reason that I hear quite frequently from my male friends is that going to the doctor is just too inconvenient. I understand this sentiment. You go for what should be a 30 minute check up only to wait in the lobby for an hour and then you spend another 20 minutes sitting bare bottomed on some butcher paper in the exam room.

There are a bunch of reasons why you should consider getting checked out (by a doctor):

Prevent health problems. This is the most important reason. In the West, it seems medicine is geared towards treating health problems and not preventing them. While it’s true that doctors spend most their time treating people who are already ill, more and more doctors are focusing on preventing their patients’ health problems before they start. A regular physical exam is one tool to accomplish this goal.

I suppose this is sort of true. You should have realised by now that the pharmaceutical industry is in it for the money, not for the lives (however well-meaning the individuals in that industry may be). The industry is dominated by a few corporations, and because corporations are psychopaths in their very nature, they are interested only in making money, not in saving lives. Preventing health problems means you have less profit.

This may seem like a huge conspiracy theory. It really isn’t. Most of what is going down in our global capitalist system geared by converging self-interests, not secret collective efforts.

.. or is it?!

Save money

Establish baselines. If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while, getting a physical will establish baselines for things like your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Having these baselines will help your doctor gauge your health’s subsequent progression or regression.

I am a bit curious as to my baseline health (on the other hand I dread the look of disappointment of my doctor when he tells me how bad my physical condition is for a 24-year-old). A friend once told me that you can order a bunch of tests nowadays that tell you exactly how your unique metabolism works, what kinds of diets and exercises fit it best, and what you should avoid eating, drinking, etc. It’s a bit expensive, though.

Develop a relationship with your doctor. Because men don’t see the doctor regularly, we often don’t have a doctor with whom we’ve developed a trusting relationship. But having a doctor that you can trust can ensure that you get the best care possible.

Right. This, of course, is only the case if your doctor happens to be a man. Mine is, but I know him pretty well already. So screw it.

Now, here’s some more information:

How Often Should You Get a Physical

If you’re in your 20s… every five years.

If you’re in your 30’s… every three years.

If you’re in your 40’s... every two years.

50 and above… every year.

Okay, next thing is a huge list of “what to expect when you get a physical”, because, you know, you don’t want to be confused when your doctor tells you to stick out your tongue and say “aaaaaaaaah”. I am going to skip the list, since it is mostly based on the U.S. health system, which depresses me too much to really write about.

One thing you should be prepared for, though:

Checking the boys. If you’re under the age of 40, your doctor will give you a testicular exam. He’ll also probably ask you to turn your head and cough while he holds onto your balls to check to see if you have a hernia.

I happen to know someone who had a hernia, and trust me, if you have one you’ll notice it before someone gets to cup your balls and makes you cough.

In all seriousness, though. We all should get regular check-ups. Just do it.

Man-meter: this is sensible stuff. Sensibility ain’t exclusively manly! Remember that.

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