A Men’s Health Month Wake-Up Call

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For all you Amazon Warrior Women raised in single-sex isolation, this statement may shock you (everyone else, not so much): men can be awfully stubborn.

Whether out of pride, laziness, or some misplaced sense of machismo, many men don’t like to ask for help, preferring to appear fully in control of their own destiny. Because it’s ingrained practically from birth by media stereotypes (the Judd Apatow Manchild, the Slovenly Sitcom Dad, the Gran Torino Grandpa, etc.), emboldened by romanticized images of athletes “playing through the pain,” and further entrenched by too many real-life role models, this attitude can be difficult to overcome. It can be kind of endearing when the stakes are low – sure, Joe, you decided to spend 16 hours trimming the lawn with a pair of scissors because you read online that it keeps weeds away, not because you didn’t want to admit you don’t know how to start the lawnmower. Sure. But it can literally be deadly when applied to one of the most common bugaboos of modern manhood – going to the doctor.

Some generalizations have a grain of truth to them, and the idea that men are weirdly resistant to going to the doctor is one of them. There could be any number of reasons for this; some are averse to taking any time off work; others are dead set on “toughing it out”; yet more might have anxiety about going to the doctor and don’t want to admit it. But whatever the case may be, the solution remains the same: JUST GO TO THE DOCTOR ALREADY (provided you have insurance and can afford it).

If you are a man who isn’t sure whether this edict applies to you, here is a handy guide to help you determine if it’s time to take that long overdue trip to the doctor’s office.

When you should go to the doctor

You are experiencing a medical emergency. This may seem obvious, but tell that to this guy, who, even after getting shot in the head, “said he did not want medical attention and would just shower and go to bed.” Here’s a hint, dude: a shower is not a legitimate form of emergency medicine. Don’t be that guy who decides to just “sleep it off” after getting impaled by a harpoon.

You have a nagging injury. We all get bumps and bruises now and again. Some arise from traditionally masculine activities (tweaking your shoulder while lifting weights), others not so much (dislocating your thumb during a vigorous crocheting session). In either scenario, lots of men have trouble acknowledging such injuries for fear it might impugn others’ perception of their manly toughness. This is very silly. If you have an injury that starts to linger, get it checked out. You may need physical therapy, or even surgery, to get back in peak physical condition so you can continue enjoying your favorite active hobby free of pain or other difficulties. Yes, even crocheting – whatever makes you happy!

You are experiencing unusual or otherwise troubling symptoms. Look, you don’t have to go running off to the emergency room every time you get a headache or feel a slight twinge in your gut. Sometimes that burrito you had for lunch really was just too much, and your discomfort will all be over and done with after you spend a couple of hours locked in the bathroom. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore symptoms that seem like more than the typical result of a trip to Taco Bell. Whether it’s chest pains, lightheadedness, persistent lethargy, or any one of a multitude potentially dangerous issues, don’t leave it to WebMD – let a professional check you out. It’s perfectly natural to be afraid of taking that step – after all, if you don’t go to the doctor, no one will be able to tell you that something is actually wrong with you. But which would you prefer: ignorance leading to possibly catastrophic medical consequences, up to and including premature death, or a diagnosis that leads to an early intervention that could save your life? Your call.

You feel perfectly fine. Don’t think you can get out of this so easily! Getting regular check-ups, whether you feel sick or not, will allow your doctor to catch silent killers like high blood pressure or diabetes before it’s too late.

When you shouldn’t go to the doctor

You’re already dead. Alternately, you haven’t been born yet.

 

This Men’s Health Month, take care of yourself and make sure you’re going to the doctor when needed! Another way to take care of yourself is to re-evaluate your career & search for your next healthcare opportunity – start here!

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