It had been eight years.
But for me that wasn’t exactly a long time between visits.
The first time I remember my mom taking me to the doctor was back in the third grade. If you don’t count four trips to the emergency room - two on a backboard after spectacular bicycle crashes, being hit by a drunk driver who ran a stop sign and having a building collapse on top of me plus two hernia surgeries - I’ve been to a doctor six times since then.
What got me to go this week was essentially an ultimatum from my insurer. Either I get an annual physical and biometric screening or else they will drop my coverage.
It’s a more than a reasonable requirement. After all, preventative care and early diagnosis keeps health insurance costs down.
I have what might be considered a weird view of doctors. I don’t look for magical pills from them. And while I respect their mastery of medicine and understanding of the human body and psyche, I’m the person with the best working knowledge of my body.
Twenty-six years ago I had a doctor that examined me after I was stung 12 times by bees. He almost had a heart attack when he saw my bunions and feet. He didn’t simply urge me to have surgery, he practically demanded it. He told me if I didn’t do something pronto it could essentially cripple me. And if not that, the pain would keep getting worse when I bumped them or excessive rubbing occurred such as on long bicycle rides. He was irked that I declined to schedule a visit with a podiatrist before I left his office.
I sought out a doctor who was a runner. George Scarmon looked at my feet then asked me if they bothered me. I said not really. He asked me about my exercise habits. At the time I was pedaling close to 10,000 miles a year and hitting four to five Jazzercise classes a week. He then told me about the risks of surgery and said they’d be nothing wrong with not doing anything until such time pain became an issue. I still have my bunions.
His philosophy was straight forward. No one has a perfect body and that you are sometimes better off if you find a way of dealing with issues you may have without resorting to medication or surgery. He viewed both as invasive on the body.
Scarmon wasn’t a holistic doctor, mind you. He simply believed people who were in control of their health through proper diet and exercise could steer clear of adding or doing things to their body that could end up being counterproductive.
So there I was Tuesday in a rare setting - a doctor’s office. The physician was Anil K. Sain. Definitely my kind of doctor since he has a reputation for not pulling punches.
Nothing surprised me from my blood pressure to blood panel. Even when he told me I could “stand to lose a few pounds” he was right on target.
Then he told me something that threw me for a loop. He wanted to know how my varicose veins were doing as he squeezed my legs. Varicose veins? I don’t have varicose veins.
“Yes you do have varicose veins,” came the reply.
I looked down and didn’t notice anything different about my legs. They’ve looked like that for years. They’re obviously not a problem and what I have been doing in terms of exercise and such supposedly greatly reduces the chances of them ever becoming a problem.
It did sell me on the importance of annual physicals if for no other reason to have someone else besides yourself “look” at your body.
You think varicose veins are a detail that you wouldn’t overlook. And that’s exactly why you need a “third party” - so to speak - to make an assessment.
The only bad news to come out of the physical is the fact the guy who stocks the vending machine at the Manteca Bulletin is about to lose $12 a week I spend on cookies that are my one daily food vice.
I’ve wanted to give them up for awhile convinced I needed to lose a few pounds. But instead I let comments by others that I didn’t need to lose any more weight lull me into telling myself the cookies aren’t that big of a deal.
It’s always good to have an objective third party tell you like it is.
That’s why annual physicals make sense.
Besides, my insurance company has already decided I don’t have a choice.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.