“I’m 100% healthy so I never see my doctor unless I’m really sick…” Sound familiar? I hear this line all the time especially from patients who don’t take any medications. I get it. Going to the doctor is an experience you probably don’t look forward to – waiting rooms, missing work, getting your labs and sorting out insurance issues. Plus the underlying fear you may find out you have some dreaded disease. Well I’m here to tell you that it’s really important to keep in contact with your family doctor while also having a face-to-face at least once or twice a year. Even if you’re 100% healthy.
Of course you’ll see your doctor for worrisome symptoms but what if you don’t realize it’s worrisome? How about if you’re a 50 year-old woman and wanting to tattoo your eyebrows because they’re thinning which you “know is due to age”. Did you also know thyroid conditions affect eyebrow growth? Or you’re a healthy 70 year-old man with no medical problems but now you get tired more easily which you “know is due to being 70 years- old”. However, a major symptom of heart disease is also fatigue even with no chest pain or shortness of breath. What if you’re 39 years-old and your mom got diagnosed last month with colon cancer. Did you know your own colon cancer screenings should now begin at 40 years-old and not the usual 50 years-old? How about that itching you insist is from your dry skin? Well, your skin could be dry but your itchiness could also be a sign of silent liver disease even if you’re not turning yellow or drinking a lot of alcohol.
You should also be notifying your family doctor about anything that relates to your health – nagging symptoms that are new, a relative’s recent cancer or heart problem, any urgent care, ER visits, specialist visits and any surgeries – elective or not. Your family doctor can make sure you’re getting the proper level of care once you return home after a hospital stay or help with more explanation about your ongoing hospital care. They’ll make sure your specialists were given the proper information about your medications and medical history. If called first, you may be able to avoid an urgent care or ER visit.
And then there’s nutrition and activity (diet and exercise) because these two things are at the core of most chronic and acute diseases, even for those who think they’re 100% healthy. There are many situations like pre-diabetes and elevated cholesterol that progress to diabetes and heart disease because of poor nutrition and lack of activity. Your family doctor should provide education and close follow-up to manage potential problems later in your life. I see a lot of 100% healthy patients who spend our whole visit discussing how to incorporate more plant-based eating because there’s a lot of heart disease in their family or they want to become more fit but are afraid of injury. I work together with them to formulate individual plans for healthier eating and increased safe activity. Then we’ll meet-up every few months to check progress and adjust things.
Like anything else in life, maintaining or improving your health is a process that takes time, education, motivation and individual decision making. This is something we realize when dealing with important life and work issues but sadly not always with our own health and welfare. I’ve been practicing medicine for over 25 years and don’t like a cookie-cutter approach to healthcare. Patients are all different – in their shapes, sizes, cultures, races, levels of education, family structure, income levels and genetic predispositions. I opened a medical practice with 60-minute visit times to provide my patients education for staying healthy as well as managing diseases . Our visits are unhurried, on-time and not stressful. Patients now use my cell phone to call, text or email me with any immediate problems, questions, health updates or medicine renewals. We make specialist appointments for our patients and arrange any needed testing while labs are drawn in my office. Also there’s never time spent in my waiting room because a 10:00 am appointment is seen at 10:00 am and you’re back at work by 11:00am. Even with same or next day appointments there’s no wait. I’m in touch with my patients while they’re on vacation or traveling for business in case there’s a problem and I see them in the hospital and ER so I can be their patient advocate.
So try to think about your body at least as much as you think about your car, home heating system or your roof. Protect what’s really important – you and your family. Visit your doctor and use their office for the resources and care they can provide. Also check out my new practice at www.bralowmedicalgroup.com and www.mdvip.com to schedule a complimentary meet & greet. You’ll be surprised to learn that you can work with your family doctor and enjoy ongoing good health without the usual hassles. And still be 100% healthy.