I had my first physical exam in seven years yesterday. The doctor said I’ve got five years.
Until I’m 30.
No, in all seriousness, my trip to the Pearl Health Center was by far the best experience I’ve ever had with anything involving doctors, dentists, dermatologists or even trainers. The clinic itself featured accent lighting, bamboo, waterfalls, and a Far East vibe. PHC isn’t your average clinic, to say the least. They specialize in Eastern medicine, offer a wide range of healing herbs, offer acupuncture and really take to the art of well-being in a holistic manner.
I’ve maintained a perfect bill of health my whole life, so I’m not used to being around doctors. And as holistic healing goes, I guess the only experience I have relying on the Earth for a cure came in pee-wee football, when one of my coaches — a former Airborne soldier — insisted we RUB SOME DIRT ON IT! whenever myself or one of my teammates got dinged up.
Back to the physical: I went because I’ve been experiencing some bouts of dizziness and anxiety, but also because I believe in preventative care. Physicals aren’t such a necessity at age 25, but any number of sources will tell you getting a few in your 20s is a wise decision for maintaining long-term health. Most importantly, I’m on health insurance now, so the physical was covered under my plan and there was no copayment. I figured, why not?
I learned my blood-pressure is 138/78. Or maybe it was 78/138. Either way, I asked my nurse if that was good.
“It’s not bad,” she said. “But it’s not the best.”
She spent a great deal of effort, time and money in college to someday tell a patient their blood-pressure in numbers with no decisive analysis. She makes more money than I ever will. Ultimately, the blood-pressure issue was a push.
I weighed in a little heavier than I would like — 230 pounds — but I finally broke through the six-foot barrier, where I now stand six-feet-and-a-half-inch. BOOM.
When the doctor arrived, we talked history of illness in my family and genealogy, in general. I spotted his college diploma on the wall from some place called “Harvard.” Needless to say, I trusted the man. We carried on a conversation about my job, what I do for a living, which I imagine is the modus operandi for diffusing the tension before inspecting a total strangers testicles.
And that he did. Quick and easy. Turn. Cough. Turn. Cough. Turn. Cough. The ol’ testicular inspection is always less shameful than you imagine it to be. But, a few decades from now when the prostate exam becomes part of the itinerary — I imagine that will live up to the hype. There’s just no casual way to have a stranger poke around your colon without feeling somewhat violated.
“I told you I’m a boring patient,” I said.
“But that’s good!” the doctor said. He leaned in. “I was just telling a patient the other day having good genes helps. A good diet, good exercise routine, too. But sometimes, you just need a bucket of luck. I think you’ve got that.”
You go to a fancy clinic in the rich part of town, subscribe to the Eastern philosophies if only for a few minutes, find your new physician went to Harvard, get the full check-up, and the last thing you expect for a diagnosis is a “bucket of luck.”
Far be it from me to offer health advice, but I recognize most of my peers would probably lick clean a hot oven before scheduling a physical without some malady or ailment. But — and let me step onto my soapbox — you owe it to yourself to take an hour out of your day to get yourself checked out. Better too soon than too late, and we’re not getting any younger. I know for the rough-and-tumble types, hospitals are, in general, for weaklings. But you can avoid several issues in the future of you take action now.