Wednesday, October 31, 2012

November Physicals


November is my birth month so I look forward to another birthday on the 26th.  I've had quite a few birthdays and while I don't make a big deal about it my birthday is significant because that is when I usually schedule my yearly physical examination with my personal physician. When I played professional football I had physicals once or twice a year because it was important to not only me but to the Giants organization that I was physically fit to practice and play football.  When my career ended it was no longer an issue for the Giants but it had to be important for me to be responsible for my own health and welfare. It was at that time that I initiated monitoring my health on a yearly basis to make sure that I stayed on top of any potential medical issues.

I tend to be a creature of habit but I also want to be simplistic, so getting my yearly physical is one of those things that I know will take place on or around my birthday each year. For the last 20 plus years that has been etched in stone as far as I'm concerned.  It was after one of those yearly physicals that my doctor gave me a clean bill of health but then took an extra minute to ask me 'is everything else okay?' Because of a personal relationship with my doctor I felt comfortable enough sharing non-physical symptoms I was experiencing at that time. That extra moment ultimately lead to my doctor referring me to a specialist who ultimately made a diagnosis of a mild traumatic brain injury that I sustained from playing football.  That extra moment he spent with me to actively listen to my concerns eventually gave me a name to go with my neurological symptoms (Post-Concussion Syndrome). It was a wise move years ago to have establish that relationship and I look forward to the next examination later this month.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, I have friends I played football with in high school, college and in the NFL who have secretly shared with me that it has been quite some time since they've visited their doctors or have gotten physical examinations on a regular basis. One of the tragedies was a teammate who shared with me that since he left the NFL he had not seen a doctor in over 22 years. I was 'floored' and practically begged him to take advantage of a free program that was being offered to former players to check on their cardiovascular health.  Instead of listening and acting positively he was adamant about not going for fear that he would be told something he did not want to hear. Six months later he was dead from a massive heart attack. I often wonder if he had a personal relationship with a physician that he could have met with yearly he might still be alive today.

I want to encourage everyone (but especially all you men) to make an appointment for a yearly physical examination on your next birthday.  If you have apprehensions about doing it for yourself, do it for your loved ones you might leave behind prematurely.

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