Today when I went to my doctor for my annual work physical I was reminded of a time about 15 years ago when my doctor (different doctor, different state) yelled at me.
Much like today I was there for a work physical. She started out relatively patient with me, but after too many vague and unhelpful answers on my part about MY health, she lost it. She reminded me that I was far too old to not know about my own health and my family history. She said, “It’s just you now, your parents are no longer responsible for your health. You’re grown. If you don’t take care of yourself or make any effort in taking care of yourself no one else will. There’s only so much I can do. You are in charge of your health.”
To be clear, I wasn’t an orphan. I also wasn’t a mess medically. She was simply reminding me/verbally slapping me in my face, that adulthood had happened. And whether I was pleased about it or not, it was time to step up.
I left the doctor’s office in a huff! I did NOT appreciate being scolded like that. However five minutes later, as the sting of embarrassment started to wear off, I realized how right she was. It was my first visit with her and I had arrived with no chart from my previous physician, and little to no knowledge of my family history or my own. By the time I got back to my apartment I was looking at my doctor with different eyes. She had empowered me to take practice self care.
Not everyone responds to the “tough love” method. But I like to think she knew I would not only take it but respond well to it.
All those years later, it’s still a struggle being in charge of my health. Some days are better than others. Yesterday I ate my weight in food in the form of pizza. But then today when I went to the doctor I had done my research. I knew that I was due for my tetanus shot. In fact, I reminded him. As it should be! (Non-medical people, I’m not saying you should know vaccine schedules, but I’m a nurse for love, I have no excuse.) One sore arm later, I’m now protected another 10 years against Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis.
I look back at the kid I was 15 years ago, with kindness. I wasn’t purposely not taking care of myself. But once it was brought to my attention, not responding would have been an unhealthy (for myself only) act of defiance.
The world needs you. So go get that breast exam. Colonoscopy. Tetanus shot. Prostate exam. STI check. Vision test. Dental exam. Pap smear. Second opinion.
Take care of YOU.