Your Excuses Not To Get A Checkup, Busted

February 14, 2020  |  
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getting a routine checkup

Source: Courtney Hale / Getty

I don’t think many people love going to the doctor. That annual checkup always feels like such a nuisance, and it’s kind of a downer. You’re just going on about your life—you’re working on your goals, planning trips, building friendships, keeping up your love life—and then you have that ugly little reminder that you are mortal. You don’t get to work on goals and travel and dance and party forever. You’re a human in a body that is fragile and finite. So, yeah, you have to go get your checkups so you can stay in that body for as long as possible, in as great as shape as possible. That’s how you get to enjoy all the things you love for many, many years to come. But nobody likes to really think about the fact that, at any point, something in their body could just give. You’re too busy thinking about that presentation due Monday, that vacation you’re booking, that fight you’re in with your partner, that cute dress you saw in the store, and things like that. You don’t want to be bothered with a checkup.

 

So, if you’re like many people out there, you probably have a nice list of excuses for not getting your annual checkup. We as humans are clever like that—we can reason our way in or out of doing anything, so long as it’s convenient for us. We’re too smart for our own good. But also, sometimes we’re too dumb. And that’s the case if you’ve been skipping your checkups. Every year, you get that reminder card, call, or email from your physician’s office—it’s time for your yearly checkup—and so commences your days of making excuses and justifying not going. Unfortunately, I’m here to bust all of those excuses.

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I have great genes

Well that’s great, and I’m happy to hear that. It’s good that your family hasn’t had to deal with too many illnesses or catastrophic medical events. That being said, just because those things haven’t popped up in your family’s history, doesn’t mean they won’t. You also have to remember that your family members may have lead very different lives than you do. You’re exposed to contagions, pollutions, and ingredients to which they weren’t.

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I feel fine

That’s great! And feeling fine feels pretty nice, doesn’t it? So, you’d probably like to continue to feel fine, huh? Well, a doctor can tell you what you’re doing right, that helps you feel that way, and what you’re doing that might mean that soon enough, you won’t feel fine. Also, if you wait until you don’t feel fine to see a doctor, than treating the issue may be much more difficult.

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My friend says I’m fine

I see. And is your friend a doctor? No. Just someone who reads a lot of medical articles. Well that’s good that he keeps himself educated, but he can’t possibly know what a medical professional who looks at real patients every day and has done so for possibly decades will know.

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My last checkup went fine

Well that’d be great if you were, say, a statue or some other thing that isn’t living. But you are a living being, which means you age. And your body won’t do quite as well from one year to the next. Whatever last year’s checkup said was not any sort of promise for what this year’s checkup would say.

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I’m young

Youth doesn’t promise health. It tends to have a positive correlation with it, but it’s no promise. But also, if you are young, then this is the perfect time to talk to your doctor about prevention, so you can take steps to reduce the chances that your older years will be painful.

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I take a lot of vitamins

There’s another word for vitamin and that’s supplement. As in, these items are just a supplemental part of a healthy routine. Seeing a doctor is also a part of that routine, and a much bigger, much more important one than vitamins. Also, your doctor should do your blood work yearly to determine your vitamins are actually working, or if you’re perhaps overtaking some.

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I run my own tests

You run your own blood pressure test and your own vision test and your own blood sugar tests. That’s terrific! However, all of those numbers are only a small part of an overall checkup. Those numbers can also be deceiving, as sometimes, a “normal” blood pressure read can exist even when other conditions are occurring.

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I go to the pharmacy regularly

You pick up quite a few prescriptions, so you’re often stealing a few extra minutes of the pharmacist’s time to ask her about some symptoms you’ve been experiencing. She seems to think you’re fine. Okay well, she doesn’t have the time or the knowledge to run a full, thorough exam. A pharmacist is not a doctor. That’s why they have different titles.

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I don’t have time

You may be more correct than you think. What I mean by that is that, if you don’t take the little time to get a checkup, then you may miss the chance to prevent or treat a condition that could steal a lot more time by cutting your life short. Or by making you so chronically ill that it takes you five times as long to get your regular tasks done.

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Insurance is too expensive

It is, that is true. But there is financial aid and certain tax breaks available for individuals who have to pay for their own individual medical plans. You can also look up low-cost clinics in your city. Just know you’ll need to wait longer since you can’t get an appointment, but it is worth it to look into your health.

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I can just call a doctor

So perhaps you do have health insurance and with it comes 24/7 on-call doctors who will talk to you over the phone. Those are supposed to be for emergencies or occasional use, when your regular doctor isn’t available. But you need to see a doctor, in-person, once a year, who actually looks at you, close-up, the way a phone doctor just can’t.

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I’d rather not know

It’s true that knowing something is wrong can be wore than the physical symptoms. But you know what would really suck to know? That your condition would have been totally treatable had you caught it early enough and now, you’re in a very difficult position. So maybe you do want to know.

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Most stuff goes away on its own

Well, that’s not true. You just think that because the stuff you’ve had in your lifetime so far went away on its own. But there are plenty of things that not only don’t go away on their own, but can quickly develop into much worse things, like how bladder infections can become kidney infections.

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I hate the upsells

Maybe your doctor tries to prescribe you things that you don’t feel you need. Look, assessing and rejecting upsells is a part of life. You deal with it in restaurants, clothing stores, movie theaters, car dealerships, and just about everywhere. If you’ll tolerate it for those things you don’t even need, you should tolerate it for your health.

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I don’t want a lecture

If you feel that your doctor talks down to you or doesn’t make you feel comfortable sharing things about your life, just find a better doctor. It’s important you have a doctor of whom you feel you can ask all sorts of questions, and to whom you can report the truth about your habits. You don’t have to stick with the first doctor you find.

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