With a little extra time on my hands, I have tried to catch up on or address things that have been on my mind for a while. For the last few of months I had noticed that whenever I spent a couple hours in-front of a screen or reading that I would develop a headache. I assumed it was something with my eyes but I kept putting it off because it didn’t affect my day to day and I only ever noticed it in clinic if I saved all of my notes for the end of the day. However, earlier this week I went and took an hour out of my day to get an eye exam for the first time in 3 years. Turns out I needed reading glasses…shocker.
Since wearing the glasses and starting to study for my board exam I have been spending 3-4hrs/day on my laptop or reading text and am yet to have a headache. It was as simple as getting a pair of $10 glasses to fix an issue that has been bugging me for probably 6 months to a year. Looking back there was a lot of unnecessary headaches that I could have avoided if I had just gone and gotten a quick screen.
Let’s correlate this back to our overall physical health. No one likes going to see the doctor. However, sometimes it is good to just get a check-up in and make sure that the little aches and pains that you are dealing with daily are 1) nothing major or 2) could potentially be avoided with slight adjustments in your schedule. I know I am guilty of this myself because I avoid going to the doctor as much as I can. This is interesting as I am in the medical field with a focus on primary prevention. I know that diseases are much more difficult to treat in the chronic state, yet I still try to give things time to heal and only go to the doctor after it has been an issue for a couple of months.
This post is more about the importance of getting a screen done annually than about becoming a self-diagnosed hypochondriac who is scrolling through webMD for their most recent potential cause of cancer. Taking an hour or two to schedule an appointment with your doctor annually could save you hours or days in a hospital down the road. The damage caused by prolonged undiagnosed high blood pressure or diabetes is much worse than addressing the problem in its infancy with diet or exercise modifications. Also, if you are living a relatively healthy life style just be aware that you are not immune to potential health complications.
One of my great friends recently underwent treatment for thyroid cancer; they are an active person in their mid 20’s with no significant medical history. However during a dental procedure their dentist did a screening and suggested further workup. Thankfully the cancer was in a very beginning stage and everything turned out well. Most health care providers are not looking to admit you to a hospital. They are there to do their due diligence and provide you with the care you deserve.
With direct access approval in the works for Illinois, we are only a short period of time away from days where you will be able to step into your local physical therapy clinic and ask for a movement/injury screening. Physical therapists have doctoral level training to screen and refer out if necessary so if you are afraid of your back pain and don’t want to take the time to get an MRI (which research says are pretty useless in most cases) stroll on over to your local physical therapy clinic and see if they can make any recommendations. Also, just because you have had some imagining done in the past, realize that you are so much more than your X-ray or MRI. I have seen patients with a 10 year history of back pain, neck pain, and dizziness alleviate their symptoms within two weeks (even with their bulging discs or crooked spines).
While I know going to the doctor sucks and no one wants to lose out on an episode of their favorite Netflix show to go have someone poke and prod them, it could save you countless hours of pain, discomfort or future medical treatments. Do yourself a favor and set up a physical, get a mammogram, or accept that at age 50 you need a prostate exam. No one likes going to the doctor but if an hour of your time can save you 20 years of your life by catching something sinister in an early (treatable) phase, isn’t it worth it?
Thanks for taking the time to read through my thoughts and as always please reach out if you have any questions!
Happy Friday my friends--until next week!
I am a new graduate DPT and am interested in personal growth and becoming a connector within my profession.