It took me 15 years, how long will it take you?

By Meri Mayes In October, I did something I hadn’t done in over 15 years. It didn’t cost me anything, it was only five minutes away, and it involved a free lollipop. It wasn’t exactly a trip around the world, but getting my first physical since 1998 felt great. I’ve been fortunate to enjoy overall good health, but I really had no idea what was going on beneath the surface. Did I have high cholesterol? Was my glucose level normal?

I had every intention of setting up an appointment for the past few years, but I kept telling myself I would just wait until we settled down or until we changed insurance plans. Then, over dinner with friends, we all made a pact that 2011 was the year we were finally going to get a primary care doctor.

It’s amazing what happens when you have some accountability and get the ball rolling. Not only did I get my physical, but I also went to see three other specialists I’d been avoiding. Thankfully, I walked away with a clean bill of health and the following four lessons:

  1. Preventative health is a gift to you and the ones you love! Having regular “well exams” can provide lifesaving early detection and intervention.

  2. Having a relationship with a primary care physician means someone knows your medical history and also your baseline health information like blood pressure, weight, etc. Plus, who wants to go to urgent care at midnight because they have no doctor to call?

  3. You need a buddy! You needed one in kindergarten, and you need one now. It's s easy for the weeks to turn into years if you don't have someone to encourage you.

  4. The biggest thing I took away from my doctor crusade was a major dose of gratitude. Feeling strong and healthy is not something to be taken for granted, and like most good things, usually takes some work.

Maybe you’ve been a step ahead of me and already have a primary care doctor, but you’ve been putting off an appointment with a dentist, a psychologist, or even a physical therapist (gasp!). If so, I encourage you to pick up that phone (before next December) and get going. You are worth it!

Here’s to making your health a priority in 2012! Happy New Year.