I've read surveys that say between 40 to 50 percent of adult men in the U.S. do not undergo regular physical check-ups.
Some stay away because they have no health insurance. But I am betting that a substantial number of guys who don't regularly see the doc for comprehensive evaluations do so because of different reasons.
I've been one of these people, but no more. In fact, on January 11, at around 10:30 a.m., I will appear at Kaiser Permanente for a physical.
If you love a guy who won't go to the doc, you may have begged, cajoled, incentivized, guilt-tripped, your man but to little or no avail. That's why I am writing this post. Maybe you will want to show this post to him.
We guys like to say and act fearless. Hey, we are problem solvers capable of command-and-control decisions- in our careers, our finances, our lives, our bodies. But what if we cannot command our bodies to behave?
Fear was the main inhibitor in terms of me going for a physical. Fear- despite feeling great as I do- that something could be wrong that would alter our lifestyle. Would the findings of an exam lead to a mandate for more exercise in an already crowded day? Would I have to give up some of the foods I love? What if my thirst signifies more than a love of carbonated water? Could it be adult onset diabetes?
Not without tough love encouragement from two important people in my life, I likely would not have made that appointment. But maybe you've tried both tough and gentle love and your guy is still putting a physical off.
To that roadblock, I can only apply the lessons and insights from my own journey.
I decided that a far greater degree of fearlessness, and yes, control, would be possible if I found out what, if anything, is going on inside my body. I mean, as a journalist, I have always been about gathering and assessing statistics and other information in the service of factual conclusions and actionable items. Why not apply these inclinations to myself? Just think of the control facilitation available to me if I had the latest information?
I mean, knowledge is power. And if one qualifier of knowledge is knowing vs. not knowing, I've always been about knowing. So why not apply this quest for knowledge to the vessel named Russell Shaw?
There are other reasons for my physical. This may not apply to your guy, but I can't say that age is not a factor. This year, I have accumulated more decades on the planet than there are fingers on either hand. I love life enough, I love love enough, to crave favorable odds for more decades on this plane of existence.
A plane of existence, I must add, that a friend passed away just last Sunday. A friend who collapsed of a heart attack in his office at 7:45 a.m. or so last Sunday. A friend 10 years younger than me, who overworked, was stressed by a really bad accounts receivable issue with a sleazeball he worked for and never paid him.
A friend who was beyond highly intelligent, and well-respected in his field. But when he had his coronary, his mind couldn't save him.
I don't currently have some of these stressors in my own life, but that's not the point.
Could a physical have flagged my friend's condition in time? We'll never know. But the sad and tragic thing is that too often in life you don't get do-overs. If my friend could speak to all of us from the beyond right now, he might just try to persuade us to practice preventive maintenance. I mean, we do it with our autos, our computers, our homes.
Why not for ourselves? Isn't there powerful empowerment in having all the facts about yourself, and acting on them? Now that's control.
I'd like to close with this snippet from an email an old friend wrote me earlier this week. I hadn't heard from him in 25 years, but he took the initative of "Goog-ling" me and then contacting me.
We were ruminating about a couple of mutual buddies we've lost recently. My friend Larry wrote:
"It's getting to that point in our lives when we start bidding adeau to our pals. Mike's death was a tragedy, considering the circumstances, and Wayne's passing from brain cancer was a lesson for us all. He died with dignity and courage. But I still miss him..."
To that I add to the guys who are reading this:
Are you ready to be mourned and missed? Especially by the woman (or any other loved one) who printed out this post, or forwarded it to you insisting that you read it?
Of course the hell not.
Sure, we never know when our time will come. "Mike," referred to above, died in a fire. And yes, there are drunken drivers, muddy hillsides and shopping malls that beckon killers.
But far more likely, whatever dangers there might be lurking to your mortality are more likely to reside in your body than in the erratic driving habits of tonight's partyers, or a full metal jacket ready for the mall.
Yes, your body. Don't you want to empower yourself to know what, if anything, is going on?
Be a man. Get a check-up.