I never liked going for medical check ups. Mainly because I don’t really want to find out what’s wrong with me. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. True, once you know something is wrong with you, the earlier you can start to treat it. But what if it is something that cannot be treated? Then it would bug you for the rest of your life.
I remember as a teen, I wanted to go for Outward Bound School camp. A medical check up was a pre-requisite to make sure you are physically fit since there was going to be a lot of physical activities. I was diagnosed with thalassemia minor, a genetic blood condition where the bone marrow manufactures defective red blood cells that had a short life span, giving me low blood count and low haemoglobin reading. What it means is no strenuous physical activities as there is insufficient oxygen feeding my body. Nothing I can do about it as this is a genetic disorder. I am not iron deficient so no amount of iron supplement is going to pump up the blood count. I just need to make sure I don’t get into competitive sports and push myself too hard physically as I may faint due to insufficient oxygen. The more serious consequence is having a still-born and passing the genetic disorder to my children. Not as issue since I am divorced and have no children. My sister has the same condition but she successfully delivered 2 kids — my niece is now 21 and my nephew 18. She did say she was very weak and giddy after child birth because of the huge blood loss and the very low haemoglobin level. I read somewhere that world tennis player Pete Sampras has thalassemia too. It looks like you can do competitive sports after all, if properly trained from young!
Another time, I went to get a Lasik evaluation because I was tired of wearing contact lenses and glasses. I was diagnosed with glaucoma, an eye condition where the fluid pressure in the eyes were damaging the optic nerves leading to eventual blindness. And the pressure in my eyes were normal! So my condition is called normal-tension glaucoma. They concluded that I was born with weak optic nerves and it was likely hereditary. I found out that my maternal grandma had glaucoma — I guess it skipped a generation since my mom and her siblings didn’t have it. Now that they have diagnosed my condition, I have to apply eye drops every day to lower the pressure and slow down/stop the damage to the optic nerves. Ten years on, and my eye specialist is happy with my condition. He is hopeful I won’t go blind although he did say it is normal to lose some of our eyesight as we age. Joys of aging. And lucky me to get all the inherited medical conditions! Would prefer to inherit money or properties though. 🙂
Even though I don’t like going for check ups, I still make myself do it every year. Like the annual pap smear and the mammogram. Now that I am past 50, mammogram is once every 2 years. Yippee!! I mean, who likes having their breasts pressed flat during the x-ray? It is painful! If breasts were meant to be flat, we would be born with flat breasts. This year, I got a letter from the government saying that I was entitled to a free Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). Oh great! Now I have to poke around my own shit! I eventually got the 2 samples in the mail as instructed and the test results came back negative for cancer. That’s a relief. I am also entitled to a free pap smear, which they recommend we do every 3 years. And I have been doing it every year at Mount E with the same gynaecologist. I am hesitant about going to a complete stranger at a government clinic to do something so intimate but it would save me a couple of hundred dollars. I have not quite decided but I am probably going to go back to my gynaecologist since I am more comfortable with her and she knows my history. Some money cannot be saved.
So what I am saying here is, no matter how uncomfortable and worrying it is, we should never miss our medical checks. There are a lot of free checks out there subsidised by our government, so make full use of these. I do pay for a full medical check at Raffles Hospital once every 2 years just to give me peace of mind. It’s about $300-400 — easier when I was employed and had some subsidy from the company. My last check was in Oct2015 and I had to get some booster shots for Hep A. I should schedule another medical check in 2017. Really, don’t ever take your health lightly. Some things you can’t do anything about, like my thalassemia condition, but it does make me more mindful when I exercise that I should listen to my body and not push myself too hard. Some things you can manage, like my glaucoma — I have to remember to apply my eye drops every day and to go for my regular check ups. I want to enjoy my 50plus and beyond without having to worry too much about my health. We owe it to ourselves.