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Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-19-2007, 09:04 PM   #1
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Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

This is a topic I've wanted to start for a while. I also didn't want to get into it.

Just so that the cost of seeing a doctor won't influence you I'll admit: I am Canadian and it's free. I am the perfect picture of health (like a lot of you).

Several years ago, I thought I had a severe belly ache, went to doc-in-a-box, he said no, not appendix. Several hours later after I had a lot to say to DW about my visit to the MEC, DW's Friend the DR came for coffee, looked at me, poked me a couple of times and said "you have acute appendicitis, see a surgeon or I'll stick my finger up your a$$ to prove it" 3 hours later the the appendix was gone.

Recently my BIL (again never sick in his life, didn't smoke or other bad things) got a cold (or so he thought). Ignored the symtoms and took a winter vacation witrh his family. As soon as he got out of the Cdn health care system, he got so bad that his DW, DD, and SIL dragged him to a hospital. They pumped him full of antibiotics but he continued to decline

Short story is that I am now the executor of his estate. The autopsy said he had pneumioa (spelling?) and before he got antibiotics that cleared it, the damage was severe enough to kill him. Don't ignore symtoms!

In this case money (or lack of it) was not a factor, but stubournness was. Don't be stupid.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-19-2007, 10:30 PM   #2
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

OK, you've convinced me, I'll go see a doc :

DW has been bugging me this last couple of years to go get a check up, particularly a dermatologist. We live in the sunbelt and I'm covered in moles. In the oast I've had one or two removed and tested - no problem, and I put a and spf 30 on my face and bald head every day but she still worries.

It has been 3 years since I last saw a Doc, so I said I'll go soon.

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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-19-2007, 11:54 PM   #3
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

Kumquat, I am NOT stalking you ... honest. It's turning out that we think along the same lines. I agree with you 100%... and have been bugging family and friends on your point for a while now. I am also glad you had a friend that was willing to point you in interesting places to 'goose you' into action.

If I had know earlier that I was going to be in this (relatively) good financial shape, I would have taken better care of myself...

Ever since I turned about 46 (56 now), and was looking forward to FIRE, I started going for regular yearly physicals.
I just had my 2nd colonoscopy (1st one 5 years ago found some polyps so I get the pleasure of doing this every 5 years). No polyps found this year (and the ones found 5 years ago were benign).
I have lowered my cholesteral by about half, by blood pressure is down to 'normal' range ('for a guy my age ...' as per the Dr.)
My weight could come down a bit more, but it is going in the right direction.

I used to be the typical 'martyre' and tough it out .. like a man .... now I go and exercise that health insurance policy and go ahead and pay the co-pays, deductibles, and percentages...

My goal is to
a) have fun in my upcoming retirement ... family, friends, world travel, learning, poker, fishing, drinking, eating, ...etc.
b) stay healthy and stay out of the way of buses (the point of this thread).

I encourage all to pay attention to your body when it tells you something is wrong. Go get it looked at, it could save your life. I further encourage all to have regular checkups ... one of the factors to longevity (along with no smoking and keeping your height in line with your weight ) is regular medical checkups. Especially if you are no longer a spring chicken (defined as anyone over 40).

We are not as lucky as our northern friends with their 'free' healthcare system, but hey ... you can't take it with you.... and it does no good for you to kick the bucket with a pot full of money that you worked hard for and did not get to enjoy.

Peace
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-20-2007, 09:06 PM   #4
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

OK , Alan you talked me into it.

The appendix incident was 24 years ago. Since then I've seen a doctor twice, broke my wristonce and DW got pneumia and doc asked to see me. I also have many moles and a mother who had several cancers incluing skin. I'll go, honest
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-20-2007, 09:11 PM   #5
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

I went because of skin tabs and found out that my BP had jumped to 220 over 110. Poor doctor measured it 5 times until he was convinced. Meds and exercise has it down to 130/75.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-20-2007, 09:54 PM   #6
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

So, how many guys like us are out there? Whether you live or die is your choice.

BTW, I don't have an appointment yet.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-20-2007, 11:03 PM   #7
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

Quote:
Originally Posted by kumquat
So, how many guys like us are out there? Whether you live or die is your choice.
BTW, I don't have an appointment yet.
My father avoided going to the doctor for over a decade because he never had anything wrong with him, but at age 65 he finally had a persistent problem with a dry patch of skin on his leg.

The "routine" blood test came back with a PSA in the double digits. The tumor was T4 and surgery was scheduled pretty quickly.

They decided that the dry patch of skin was just psoriasis. It cleared up in a couple weeks.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-21-2007, 04:13 PM   #8
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

My husband didn't have any trouble going to the doctor. He was very consistant with his doctor's visits. He went to the doctor on a Tuesday thinking he had the flu. The doctor told him he probably had a gland infection and sent him home. On Friday, he died from acute leukemia. Going to the doctor doesn't always guarentee anything, but it is very important.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-21-2007, 04:21 PM   #9
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

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Originally Posted by happy2bretired
My husband didn't have any trouble going to the doctor. He was very consistant with his doctor's visits. He went to the doctor on a Tuesday thinking he had the flu. The doctor told him he probably had a gland infection and sent him home. On Friday, he died from acute leukemia. Going to the doctor doesn't always guarentee anything, but it is very important.

I'm so sorry .The very same thing happened to my Dad .He went to the doctor thinking he had the flu .Was diagnosed with acute leukemia and was dead within a week.
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor
Old 05-21-2007, 05:25 PM   #10
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Re: Don't be afraid to see a Doctor

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Originally Posted by happy2bretired
My husband didn't have any trouble going to the doctor. He was very consistant with his doctor's visits. He went to the doctor on a Tuesday thinking he had the flu. The doctor told him he probably had a gland infection and sent him home. On Friday, he died from acute leukemia. Going to the doctor doesn't always guarentee anything, but it is very important.
So sorry for your husband's illness. Yes, this happens.

It's tough knowing which one of a thousand "routine" colds or cases of flu will turn out to be meningitis, leukemia, etc. The hard part is figuring out what to do to avoid missing that one in a thousand. If you do spinal taps for meningitis on everyone, you'll probably do more harm than good through complications (let alone cost). Complete blood counts are less risky, but not cheap, and this implies a thousand blood draws and perhaps a $100 additional charge per patient. And some of those will be false positive leading to additional unnecessary tests like blood cultures and more blood work. It takes a keen instinct to know when to dig deeper and when to stop.

Of course, all this is of little comfort to those who have suffered a loss under these circumstances. It's the kind of thing that sincere doctors lose sleep over. In any case, it's very sad when one "gets by you." Your reaction is very wise and admirable.
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Old 05-22-2007, 03:38 PM   #11
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So sorry for your husband's illness. Yes, this happens.

It's tough knowing which one of a thousand "routine" colds or cases of flu will turn out to be meningitis, leukemia, etc. The hard part is figuring out what to do to avoid missing that one in a thousand. ..... It takes a keen instinct to know when to dig deeper and when to stop.

Of course, all this is of little comfort to those who have suffered a loss under these circumstances. It's the kind of thing that sincere doctors lose sleep over. In any case, it's very sad when one "gets by you." Your reaction is very wise and admirable.
In the situation of advanced leukemia treatment wouldn't have impacted the outcome. Most of us would want to know when we have a life threatening condition, although as in the example of the miss-diagnosis some might go for 'broke' and regret their actions.
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:13 PM   #12
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I'm a recovering hypochondriac. I used to go to the doctor too much. I went because there was a clicking noise when I turned my head. I went because my knee felt funny. All of these turned out to be nothing at all.

Now, I don't go to the doctor at "discomfort." I wait for "pain." I estimate that there are about five times in the last three years when I considered going to the doctor but waited, and the problem cleared up.

So, point is, you have to know where to draw the line, and that's very difficult. You can't call the doctor and expect him to say "Naw, that's nothing, don't bother coming in," so you're on your own.

Note that Lance Armstrong didn't consult a doctor until his testicle was the size of a grapefruit. Apparently he wasn't good at knowing where to draw the line.
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:46 PM   #13
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I agree. The problem is that a lot of people are afraid of being diagnosed with something that will make them uninsurable in the future. Even a simple blood test, with a standard physical, could turn up something that makes you all but uninsurable no matter how healthy you seem.

It's not always "stubbornness" or "denial" that you're sick.
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:20 PM   #14
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So, point is, you have to know where to draw the line, and that's very difficult. You can't call the doctor and expect him to say "Naw, that's nothing, don't bother coming in," so you're on your own.
I believe there are at least two different issues here.

The first is when to see the doctor for an acute illness, a new lump, or some other unexpected condition. People vary alot in their anxiety level, pain perception, psychosocial make-up and so on. I always told patients to use their judgment, call if they're not sure, and err on the side of an occasional "unnecessary" visit. No one should feel embarrassed about visiting the doctor about something that turns out to be "nothing." I've seen alot, and was glad to provide plain old reassurance for the patient worried about "nothing."

The second is avoidance of the doctor for preventive or nonsymptomatic care. Ignore your cholesterol, glucose, or blood pressure at your own peril. I understand there is a hardcore population who sincerely don't believe in the merits of this kind of treatment. And a core of doctors who may treat too readily or two aggressively. But tested scientific standards exist and I, for one, like to know the odds and play them to my favor.

It's really painful to see a 45 year old with a stroke (never knew he was diabetic or hypertensive), or the sudden death or heart attack in someone walking around for 10 years with a cholesterol of 300, or even the advanced cancer which started as a tiny lump but never was seen until it had metastasized.
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:42 PM   #15
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Interesting and timely in a way...

Rich.. a quick question.... my BIL and sister were hounding me to start taking a statin... she said she saw on TV that Dr. Tim Johnson said anybody over 45 or 50 should be taking a statin...

My total is hovering around 200, but my ratio is crap...

Which one is the 'best' Just your opinion, not medical advice...
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:03 PM   #16
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Interesting and timely in a way...

Rich.. a quick question.... my BIL and sister were hounding me to start taking a statin... she said she saw on TV that Dr. Tim Johnson said anybody over 45 or 50 should be taking a statin...

My total is hovering around 200, but my ratio is crap...

Which one is the 'best' Just your opinion, not medical advice...
Not a Dr., but after going in every year for my annual physical, I believe the answer is to get your weight down, do more aerobic exercises, eat more fiber and less sugars and fats.
When my blood pressure and cholesteral were getting to the marginal range, I was told that for BP, I could start taking drugs for the rest of my life or do the above... for the cholestral, I was told the same and with a little modification to my diet (like cutting down on my massive carb intake). My BP is now in the good range and I dropped my cholestral by 1/2 to a very good range.

NO DRUGS

Funny how WE really are what you eat.
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Old 05-31-2007, 02:23 PM   #17
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Interesting and timely in a way...
Rich.. a quick question.... my BIL and sister were hounding me to start taking a statin... she said she saw on TV that Dr. Tim Johnson said anybody over 45 or 50 should be taking a statin...

My total is hovering around 200, but my ratio is crap...

Which one is the 'best' Just your opinion, not medical advice...
Sounds like your well-meaning BIL and DS would just put it right in the drinking water .

No, simply being 50 is not a reason to take statins (though some would argue that it is a reason for a male to take a mini-aspirin a day -- I digress, but don't quite take that approach).

A "right" way to approach this (consider it a suggestion for how to frame the question to our doctor) is to do an ATP III risk assessment calculation - this is simply a list of questions defining what your baseline risk is (do you smoke, family history, etc.). Then look at your levels and see if they meet the guideline for your risk profile.

If they do (and assuming lifestyle/weight/diet changes are optimized or have failed) then taking a statin would bring more benefit than harm; if not, then a statin may bring more risk than benefit. No guarantees either way, but the probabilities are well defined in the literature. The breakeven for taking a statin is something in the range of a cardiac mortality of about 1% per year for a 10 year horizon.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
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Old 05-31-2007, 03:24 PM   #18
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Here is a link to that risk calculator I mentioned in my recent post:

10-year CVD Risk Calculator (Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-year Risk of Having a Heart Attack Version)
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:02 PM   #19
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Heck.... I am at the 5% range!!!


Nothing like a quick kick in the groin to make you see the light...
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Old 06-03-2007, 10:54 AM   #20
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I agree. The problem is that a lot of people are afraid of being diagnosed with something that will make them uninsurable in the future. Even a simple blood test, with a standard physical, could turn up something that makes you all but uninsurable no matter how healthy you seem.

It's not always "stubbornness" or "denial" that you're sick.
Interesting observation. That's a waiting time right there. From discovery of symptoms to decision to get healthcare.
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