BY DR. JOHN VANDERLOO
Taking Care of Our Loved Ones
Means Taking Care of Ourselves
Dads wear lots of different hats—coach, handyman, yard guy, grill master—not to mention protector, playmate, and disciplinarian. One hat we neglect to wear most of the time is that of the patient, and this can sometimes be the most important one. When we spend our time trying to do what is best for our families it probably comes as no surprise that when it comes to taking care of ourselves, we usually postpone today what we can do tomorrow.
The American Academy of Family Practitioners recently conducted a study that found when men have concerns about their health, are sick, or in pain, almost 90% do not seek care right away. Furthermore, 30% of men tend to wait as long as possible before they do seek treatment. When we combine this tendency with the common paradigm that the only reason to see your physician is to treat an illness, the result can be unfortunate for us and the family we work so hard to care for.
Periodic Well-Care Visits Are Important
Going to a physician when you’re perfectly healthy may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually your best chance to stay that way. Establishing a baseline with your physician can often lead him to catch diseases and conditions in their earlier, more manageable stages.
For example, a middle-aged dad was able to get an early diagnosis on prostate cancer thanks to a simple blood draw during a healthy checkup. Another discovered he had severely elevated blood pressure even though he was young and “felt fine.” For those men, making a well-visit appointment with their physicians proved to be the best thing they could have done to safeguard their roles as fathers.
What to Expect When You Go
Some might wonder what exactly one of these well-care visits entails. Depending on age, these visits are meant to monitor for things that we know can significantly impact our long-term health. Testicular cancer, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, and adult-onset diabetes are just a few of the common issues that may not trigger any symptoms until they have caused irreparable damage. Answering some simple questions, conducting a few non-invasive tests and having a little blood work done are all it takes to help identify medical problems that can be treated before they have progressed to life-altering diseases.
If it’s been a while since Dad has been to the doctor, encourage him to go. If he doesn’t have a relationship with a primary care provider, keep us in mind. We offer long-term health through quick wellness visits that won’t break the bank. Additionally, our model allows us to spend more time with our patients with little to no waiting. See your doctor regularly—healthy or otherwise—and don’t shake off early warning signs so that “I’ll go soon” doesn’t turn into “I wish I had gone sooner.”
Dr. John Vanderloo is a primary care physician practicing family medicine at NewCare MD in Madison.