Unless you live under a rock, you are aware that medicine in this country is a disaster. The reasons for this and the ramifications of this are huge. The United States government cannot get a handle on health care and the problem is definitely outside the scope of something I am willing to tackle here (even if I were wearing a helmet.) While we wait for the solution I fear does not exist, as an individual with physical needs, you have two choices. You can rail against it (in medical terms this is known as “stupid”) or you can accept that with all its faults, you still need it. Your first step is to have a doctor – a primary care doctor. Having an OB/Gyn, a Dermatologist and a Pediatrician for your kids does not count. If you are a man, you are not exempt. I don’t know how many men are reading this but I am hoping there are a few out there. I have been trying to keep my comments gender neutral; avoiding discussing “female” topics and explicating on how difficult it is to be a woman. This, by the way, has not been easy, especially last week when my PMS was so bad I cried during an especially moving piece of Baby Mozart and this week when the cramps feel like a vice and my hormones are raging and uhhhh … oops … anyway, the point is, EVEN if you have a penis, you still need a doctor.
Why do you need a Primary Care Provider (PCP)?
1. Health Care Maintenance – Just like your car and your marriage, your body needs frequent evaluation and upkeep. Even if you know what tests you should have based on your age, sex and risk factors, you probably still need a referral.
2. To Establish a Healthy Relationship – I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you are not getting any younger and as such, you will probably need a doctor more, not less, in the future. Having, at the least, yearly check ups will set the groundwork for a relationship with a physician that will likely become more important as time marches on. If you don’t like your doctor, now is the time to find someone you are comfortable being naked in front of (check in tomorrow for tips on finding a doctor who is right for you.)
3. Acute Illness – When you are sick, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to complain to someone you know who can actually help you? You can moan to your friends and family but most of them don’t care and the few that do probably don’t have a prescription pad. I often hear people complain that they don’t understand why they can’t call a doctor and get a prescription over the phone. “I know what I have, why can’t they just call in an antibiotic??” Well, occasionally, under the right circumstances, they can, and I agree that sometimes when you are feeling horrible, the last place you should be is in a doctor’s office. A doctor who has spent time with you when you are well, is much more likely to show some flexibility when you are sick. Not to mention, that you may find yourself in need of help in the middle of the night or on the weekend and a doctor on call who knows you can save you a trip to the ER.
4. To Coordinate Care – Modern medicine: there is a specialist for everything. Wonderful, of course, but too many cooks can definitely spoil the soup (or do they spoil the stew?) The right PCP can help you navigate the confusing medical system and ensure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. He or she can help to remind your Cardiologist and your Neurologist that your heart and your brain are only a part of your big picture and can save you from receiving treatments that may interfere with each other or even be harmful in conjunction.
5. Peace of Mind – Knowing that you have someone looking out for you who will keep you up to date and medically tuned up is therapeutic in and of itself. PCP co-pay: $15. Specialist co-pay: $25. Peace of mind: Priceless
I know you are busy but make an appointment for a general check up. If you are feeling well, great! There is no better time to get a well check. If you don’t like your doctor (which in many cases is completely understandable since lots of doctors are unlikable,) find a new one. If you have a doctor and have had a physical in the past year – good for you. (Speaking of “good for you” If you haven’t heard Christian Bale’s rant against the lighting guy (listen for his “good for yoooou!“), it is worth a couple of minutes if for no other reason than to feel better about your own temper. I am a firm believer in anything that makes you feel better at the expense of a bad guy. Talk about needing more patience! (That was a little play on words. You’ll have to cut me some slack, it’s Monday morning.) Warning: R rated – click here for YouTube clip)