Six Things Saturday – Reasons to Go See a Doctor (even if you’re healthy)

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http://misszippy1.com/2014/10/runnings-role-healer.html

Hi again friends! Thanks for all of the great comments and kind remarks on my last posts!

My last post a few Sundays ago was pretty random and reaffirmed a few things for me:
– Almost no one watches the videos … or at least no one comments
– There are only so many random topics people can absorb in one post
– Titles really don’t matter.

Why do I mention that? Because:
– there were no comments about either video (ok, mamaSalt came in late to mention the Panda 🙂 )
– Most of the comments were about one or maybe two items
– My title was only marginally related to the post I actually published!

ANYWAY, here is one subject I meant to talk about but never got there – going to the doctor as a critical thing to do every year.

My annual physical was originally scheduled for late August, then they had to reschedule, then I forgot to do my blood work so I had to reschedule, and it finally happened in early October. Because of my hypothyroidism I make it a point to get to the doctor … and also because of my age, family history and so on.

Also, I included these pictures with this post for two reasons: because it is Halloween (duh) and because these are the people I want to be with for a long time. The picture below is a #TBT to Halloween 2004, a time when the boys were 8 and 6.5 and Lisa and I were just in our late 30s.

The top picture is from the National Honor Society induction this week, where our younger son was inducted and older son reaffirmed for membership. It was a great proud moment, and a reminder I want to be around for a long time to experience many more.

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1. Make Sure Everything is OK / Prevention

I mean, this seems obvious – but it is also the reason many people avoid going! I have heard many people say ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor – I am fine and every time I go they find something!’ By going to a doctor regularly you can get a better idea of how your health is at the moment, and by checking in you gain more perspective on how you feel when things are good (or not).

Also, do not underestimate the human ability to adapt – we get used to just about anything, and it is not until we feel better that we realize how bad we felt!

2. Learn Your Numbers

Our bodies are unique systems, so it isn’t surprising that we will have some tests where we run high and others where we are low. Some of these numbers mean something important by themself, others only in conjunction with different tests. More than ever it is critical to be informed and in control of our own health, and the first part of this is knowing how we function when ‘normal’.

3. Establish a Relationship with Your Doctor

When I walked into my doctor’s office … well, really, when she came in, she already knew my lab results, had seen me running pretty much everywhere in the last year, knew what to be looking for on my results and the things we needed to discuss for now and for the next year.

Why is that important? Because rather than trying to start from ground zero, we already have solid basis of understanding of my health, her approach, and how to interact. That way when we have to address an issue she will know how I normally handle things and can factor that into her approach.

4. Establish a Tracking History

Two years ago when I was still losing weight my potassium was on the low end of normal, but still in range. I can now admit that I was still restricting my intake (while running 50+ weeks … moron), but had I seen a new doctor or not had a history it wouldn’t have flagged anything – because it was still in the normal range. It was only through looking at my history that she noticed it was low – and since I love bananas and sweet potatoes and other sources of potassium, and had lost a ton of weight … she just gently told me a banana every morning would be a great thing.

The same is true for everything else – we spent a lot of time this year going through my numbers and how they showed the impact of my healthy eating on everything going on in my body. Between my thyroid issues and getting me into the cardiologist last year due to family history, she has carte blanche to order loads of bloodwork for me … and does.

5. Put Your Running/Eating in Context

It was a bit of a joke when I went to the cardiologist last year and they put me on the incline treadmill to get my heart rate up for the stress test – because my resting heart rate was around 50 and they couldn’t seem to get it much over 100. They laughed because I was the longest test either of them had ever seen because it took so long – which was directly attributable to my endurance running.

Same with my blood work and eating – by looking at all of my numbers in terms of cholesterol and other criteria, the doctor could tell that I was eating good stuff – and also getting enough of it, even if she still wanted to make sure I didn’t lose any more weight.

But by the same token if you were not eating well or overtraining or otherwise not taking proper care, and had convinced yourself that everything was fine … maybe a visit to the doctor could help you realize otherwise. I have said it before, but I believe that two of the big reasons for injuries with many run-bloggers are over-training and improper fueling.

6. More Thoughts on ‘Your Numbers’

I can’t reiterate enough the importance of knowing your numbers – it is easy to think that the pants don’t fit because they shrank, or that because your blood pressure and cholesterol were fine 10 years ago that you don’t need to stress over what you eat and so on … but it isn’t true. There are many things that happen over the course of our lives that change the biochemical systems inside our body – women have even more stuff going on with natural hormonal changes throughout their lives!

Our bodies evolve over time, often slowly enough that we can’t tell the difference easily – which makes it even more important to establish a relationship with a doctor and their office, get yourself checked out regularly, and know how your habits impact your health.

What are your thoughts on doctor visits and knowing your health numbers?

Oh, and because next Tuesday is mid-term elections, here is a tool WordPress provides to help with voting info:

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20 thoughts on “Six Things Saturday – Reasons to Go See a Doctor (even if you’re healthy)

  1. Good post and reminders, especially for those of us who hate doctors, which I readily admit – too many bad experiences with them. Even so, I had scheduled my physical a couple of months ago and will be getting my labs done next week for my appointment on the 14th.

    If you can get a doctor long term you are lucky. The one that I had since 2005, has moved practices twice in that time and this September left general practice and went become an ER doc.

    So I procrastinated whether I wanted to stay with his old practice or find a new Doc, not a nurse practitioner, who is female. I prefer male docs in their 40’s/50’s – old-fashioned yep, but I will try the female nurse practitioner to see how it goes. Just like my wife prefers female docs, I prefer talking to a guy about my personal stuff. If it doesn’t go well I will move my medical stuff to the local VA hospital and do everything over there from now on.

    Getting to the medical professionals is important, especially if you have on going medical issues, but sometimes the over prescribing of maintenance medications whose side affects are worse than the benefits and then they give you a hard time because you do not agree with their “orders” – that is when I have issues with the medical community.

    I stay away most of the time unless I have a traumatic injury or it is part of my two year -check in with them. For me, I have found the less time I am around docs and the drug therapy they tend to push at me, the better I feel.

    After all I am almost 60, so I am supposed to be on at least 2-3 maintenance drugs, an inhaler and whatever else they believe they can prescribe for me.

    Can’t tell I am a little less than amazed by our modern medical establishment.

    My usual question for medical professionals now is:

    What are the medication side affects and is what you are planning to prescribe going to improve the quality of my life or simply prolong the time I am here and not allow me to do the things that I want to do with my life.

    There is a big difference to me.

    Yes, sometimes they are very necessary and make a big difference – like your Thyroid Medication, other times I wonder.

    You are lucky, you have had good experiences with your medical professionals. Mine is not quite as positive.

    Jeez, I didn’t realize what an old curmudgeon I am becoming hehehehe 🙂

    • I think what you say is more about being an ‘informed consumer’ than an old curmudgeon (some of both, really!). When we were young doctor’s were looked at as possessing some absolute truth, which we now know is a joke – and I actually appreciate a doctor who will say ‘I have no idea’ … but then I appreciate that quality in everyone!

      We have been pretty lucky in general with doctors – most have been decent and wanted to get us OFF medications rather than on. My younger son was started on low-dose Thyroid pills due to marginal tests, but when that doctor retired and we got a new doctor and he asked ‘do you want to take this pill for the rest of your life?’ We weaned off the pills, Chris went through puberty, and his levels normalized. No pills.

      I got into a debate with a doctor who is married to a blogger I used to follow in a post … and frankly he was spouting nonsense about nutrition in spite of that not being his area of expertise and he was getting very high & mighty – even saying ‘I might be the guy treating you in the ER some day’. And if that is the case … all I can hope is he is better at his ER skills than at his knowledge of many other areas and his ability to accept that there are a great many things he doesn’t know about.

      And I am totally with you on the ‘pill culture’ – and I hate it. The ‘throw a pill at it’ mindset allows viruses to mutate and become resistant to medications, and we end up over-medicated and it doesn’t help our natural immunity.

      Lisa decided not to have a foot surgery a couple of years ago because it isn’t clear that it would really improve anything, and would be a 6 month recovery. Um, no thanks – but big thanks to the doctor for being honest.

      Thanks for the amazing comment!

  2. Great post! One thing I’ve noticed only for myself is that times that I really was being unhealthy, my physical and tests never reflected what I was going through and just told me I was healthy, when, inside I felt I wasn’t. Numbers definitely aren’t the whole picture, though I agree that it’s a great idea to get to know what’s normal for you. My husband, who doesn’t eat paleo the way I do but has definitely improved his eating habits and choices over the past year, noticed an improvement in his numbers all around this year from last. For me, I think one health goal is to find a doctor I feel comfortable with and trust, I just haven’t found that person yet.

    • Thanks Michele! Two thoughts:
      – I think many people have similar experiences with numbers – and honestly I am probably *way* over tested given my healthiness. But before I would only have a few tests and my cholesterol was always good regardless of weight or eating. Figuring out what tests and numbers are relevant to *US* is really important, which leads to …
      – “one health goal is to find a doctor I feel comfortable with and trust, I just haven’t found that person yet.” That is SO important. It is the basis of everything in terms of how you interact with your medical picture.

      Good luck – it isn’t easy … and with insurance the way it is, it only gets harder!

  3. Great reminders..I finally got Rob to go to the doctor for the first time since he was in high school so it had been like 14 years or something. Even though we live a generally healthy lifestyle, you still need to check up on things and make sure everything is ok. Looking back on my health over the years I find it pretty amazing that my numbers were always so good during times when I wasn’t really being “healthy”…but that was in my younger days so maybe I was just lucky in my youth and I’m glad I have learned to take things more seriously before any real problems popped up.

    • I think we all go through that period in our younger years where we are healthy and so don’t worry as much. And even now, aside from my thyroid stuff I am really healthy. I just want to keep it that way and am trying to position myself to be healthy as long as possible.

      I am glad Rob has headed to the doctor – maybe it is because I am at an age where I have (literally) a couple of dozen friends on Facebook in various stages of cancer treatment, with those who were regular doctor visitors discovering earlier and in better shape with treatment. There are always reasons NOT to go … but the most important reason of all should be telling us ‘just do it’.

    • I had the worst dentist ever – and it made me stop going for years. So stupid … but it took us moving to NY to get me back to seeing a dentist. And they are awesome (but sadly not in our ‘network’ anymore so we have to pay an extra % for everything.

      So definitely make the change!

  4. I agree with all of this. The past few months for me have been all about being sent around for tests to see where my body is at. First doctor told me I was overweight for my height (hmm I’m athletic and a size 2) and recommended I just lose weight. Finally ended up with amazing doctor who gets my running and my source of making a living. He gets that while I am fit and weigh more I am all muscle. He even suggested I might be too fit and to go ahead and ease up on exercise and gain a pound or a few. Having a trusted professional who knows you and what you do makes a huge difference. Great post!

    • Good thing you ditched that first doctor! We are all different and so BMI and whatever is not always much better than weight on a scale!

      “Having a trusted professional who knows you and what you do makes a huge difference.”

      That is so absolutely true … and really based on the comments that could have been my ‘Point #0’. Because while everything else is true, without someone you trust, what does it matter.

  5. I actually never go to the doctor (unless it is urgent). I haven’t had luck with them being helpful, actually ever, and I usually have to do research on my own to figure out what is wrong and them have the doctor confirm it. Plus, I have concerns that our medical system treats symptoms and diseases instead of focusing on prevention (although I understand how regular doctor visits could help that as well)! I think, for me, regular visits to a dentist are what I need to implement!

    And I’ll admit to never watching videos. My iPad is dying and anything that takes me out of one app and into another causes problems! Congrats to both of your boys and to you and Lisa!

    • haha … it is SO true, all of what you say. I am very happy with both my doctor and Lisa’s new primary care. And I think we have been lucky through the years with doctors – not always, we had a big stretch in the mid-90s to early 2000s where our primary care was a no-show … good thing we were healthy.

      But the doctor who found my thyroid issue? Amazing – I wasn’t really presenting too much, and thyroid testing isn’t a standard blood test … so he went out there when checking stuff out for me. I don’t think I will ever have a doctor that good again.

  6. I admit, before having Ashton, I rarely went to the Dr. I was always super healthy and it would get to the point when my doctor refused to refill my synthroid because I hadn’t had a physical in over 2 years that I finally would go in quickly for an appointment and blood test. Now, I am vigilant about going to the Drs, wether its my dermatologist for skin checks, my PCP, my OB, I take my health much more seriously now when it comes to Dr visits because of Ashton, not that I didn’t have a lot to live for before, but now, well…you know!

    In other news, I loved the pics of you and Lisa with the boys on Halloween! Its so nice to look back and reminisce, I find myself doing that a lot lately with Ashton’s baby pics! And congrats to the boys on the NHS, that is a huge accomplishment and you should be really proud of them, they are great (and smart) kids!

    • Thanks! It really is fun looking at the pictures, and we still have a blast doing things like that! And just seeing that even as the rest of us decided to go with a Batman theme Chris had to be an astronaut … so typically him! 🙂

      I do also think that going through pregnancy and being made much more aware of the life that is literally dependant on you can be a wake-up call in terms of keeping track of yourself. I think most of us who are both generally healthy and quite busy find it to be a hassle … hard to prioritize.

  7. I go for an annual exam every year whether I think I need to or not. My family history is scary, and while I do what I can to mitigate those factors, I feel better getting everything checked out once a year, so that when/if the numbers are off, I can get an early start on prevention and not have to be on medication for the rest of my life.

    • Whew … that is scary to have to be dealing with a family history – but good that you know. At least you can deal with it! I hope you have a good doctor to work with.

  8. One of the videos was deleted and the other was restricted for my region.
    I always go for my papsmear especially after the scare back in the day. I love my doctor and my rheumatologist. She saw my brother and my mom started going to her too. My mom had been dealing with an issue for over 5 years she fixed it by simply having my mom take more vitamins. She remembers that I don’t like taking medications unless its absolutely necessary. And she let’s me leave yoga cards in her waiting area.
    It’s so important to learn your numbers. My blood pressure and pulse run low. It can be hard to get a doctor to believe that 125/86 for a blood pressure is not normal.
    I think I the patient doctor relationship needs to be more of a partnership than anything.

    • Argh – region restrictions! Hate that – makes no sense, really. 🙂

      “the patient doctor relationship needs to be more of a partnership ”

      TOTALLY agree with this!

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