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Friday, October 10, 2014


I’m 6 foot, 3 inches tall.

I weigh 230 pounds.

I have on more than one occasion being called “country strong,” which I think is a nice way of saying “husky.”

Are you impressed yet by my apparent manilness? Don’t be. My wife is more “man” than I am. She isn’t afraid to go to the doctor’s office.

Just so you know this blog isn’t going to read like the personal preparedness musings you’re used to reading here. It’s not about evacuation plans or wildfire prevention or kit cook-offs.

So what’s the connection with emergency preparedness? In truth, there probably isn’t any. But as I see it the following is a public service message, and since I’m long overdue to write a blog I can only write what I know. What I know right now is fear.
I scheduled a physical exam for next Monday—my first since college. I feel “white coat” hypertensive just thinking about the blood draw. Do you remember that scene in the first Star Wars movie (really the fourth) where Darth Vader enters Princess Leia’s cell followed by floating orb holding a huge hypodermic needle? I imagine Monday looking and feeling something like that.

I won’t pretend my reasons for avoiding regular physicals are rational, but the anxiety I feel about going to the doctor’s office is real.

I’ve always understood that “taking charge” of your health by getting regular checkups and staying current with immunizations is important. But I’ve also always had an anxiety about needles and lived with the impression that the reason you go to the doctor’s is to find things that are wrong with you. I thought that was what ex-girlfriends are for?

This might sound stupid but I don’t want a real doctor to tell me there’s actually something wrong. I don’t need professional help to stress out; I do a good job on my own. I’ve diagnosed myself with West Nile virus, tonsillitis, cancer, and menopause just this week.

I know a fear of needles and doctors isn’t unique. I’m sure you know at least one person with the same phobias ... maybe worse than mine. But I also know there are people who tough it out anyhow. Typically, I’m not one of those people. I’m the type of person that thinks those type of people make my type look bad, which begs the question, “why did I make an appointment?”

Since March 29, 2013, I’ve lived by the credo “happy wife, happy life.” Yes ladies and gentleman, I’m going to see the doctor because my wife said so. It’s not the first time—nor do I pretend it’ll be the last—that this was the reason for me doing something I don’t really want to do.

For all those in the audience who are either too scared or being volun-told to schedule a physical examination, here’s what you can expect. Typically, a physician will:

·         Quiz you about lifestyle behaviors like smoking, excessive alcohol use, diet and exercise. The doctor will also check on your vaccination status and update your personal and family medical history.
·         Check your blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate and temperature.
·         Take note of your general appearance. Your doctor gathers a large amount of information about you and your health just by watching and talking to you.
·         Listen to your heart for an irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur, or other clues to heart disease.
·         Listen to you breathing for crackles, wheezes, and other clues to the presence of heart or lung disease.
·         Ask you to say "ah.” The quality of your teeth and gums also provides information about your overall health. Ears, nose, sinuses, eyes, lymph nodes, thyroid, and carotid arteries may also be examined.
·         Tap your abdomen to detect liver size and presence of abdominal fluid.
·         Listen for bowel sounds with a stethoscope, and palpate for tenderness.
·         Test your reflexes and balance.
·         Examine your skin.

Wish me luck.

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