Gentlemen, Have a Care… Of Yourselves! 

This column is dedicated to Gil, a middle-aged former municipal bus driver, who wants me to urge you to get a medical checkup on a regular basis. He did not undergo regular checkups and literally woke up one morning blind. His retinas had detached, and corrective surgery was unsuccessful. 

In a recent series of lectures by  Doctor Drew Ramsey, Board Certified Psychiatrist, author (, and mental health advocate, indicated that while twice as many women are diagnosed with depression, twice as many men commit suicide, that men and minority groups are less likely to seek medical care and that “… of the 50, 60, 70 thousand deaths by suicide every year, 80% are men…”. A sad statistic indeed – preventable and reversible if caught early enough. 

And it’s not just suicide. I cannot tell you how many male friends have gone for medical care when their disease process was so very far advanced, it is life-threatening. 

You know the old saying: “Prevention is better than a cure” – it’s TRUE. Stage 4 cancers take time to develop to that degree of emergency. Had my male friends (oh, yes, it’s plural…) gone – just for regular checkups far earlier, they would have spared themselves (and those of us in their lives who love them) the terrors that now keep them awake at night and not relaxing easily during the daytime hours. And they would have been spared the much longer hours lost now spent in allowing modern medicine to work miracles. 

It’s not just about you. I sat at a funeral recently. Tears flowed for a young retiree (far, far too young!) who died of a heart attack. No surprise there – he smoked and was overweight. I was only a distant acquaintance, but I remember sitting there, looking at everyone close to him, including his life partner, awash in tears, reflecting that it was such a pity that no one had pushed him just a bit to give himself permission to take better care of himself. 

His loved ones have been deprived of the comfort of his presence for decades and of his fun-loving spirit (frequent mention of that was made during the eulogies). Better to be a bit of a nag than a mourner far too early. 

Neglecting to undergo regular health checkups is like buying a good-make car and never bringing it to a garage for a tuneup and preventive maintenance. You wouldn’t do it to your car, so don’t you think you deserve to be treated at least as well as you treat an inanimate object?

Practicing prevention – having the medical professionals encourage better lifestyle choices that every community now offers – is SO much more pleasant. Laughingly wincing at the charleyhorses after a day overdoing it at the gym. Limping along after finishing a first 5K walk the weekend before. Bragging about new milestones reached, weight loss or muscle mass gained to friends over a smoothie prepared by a cheerful health nut running the new trendy neighborhood bar, finding one’s thoughts more peaceful, happier, one’s imagination fired up. 

Sleeping more soundly, being surprised at sleeping the entire night through. Complaining about having to buy a whole new wardrobe because everything’s too loose now. (Awwwww…..). 

Proselytizing to others about having given up smoking, excessive or drinking altogether, weight loss or muscle mass gain, joining a fitness club, finding a good massage therapist… Your ebullience will drag the stragglers along, kicking and screaming. 

What little I read of a book’s contents prompted me to gift it to a male friend, who’s already doing an excellent job – and very reassuring to his family and friends – of taking better care of himself. Book: “Grateful Man – Expressions of gratitude for 440 aspects of the male body” by Mehdi Esfandiari. 

Allow your breath to go into a relaxation mode as you take in the sentences. It’s just you, your current experience of reading the book, and your own thoughts – and enjoy. It’s not the only book in that category. Bookstore and library shelves are full of titles the contents of which will be a surprise, a recognition of self, a revelation, an inspiration and a motivation to seriously begin to look after yourself better. 

Are you good at your profession – no matter what it is? Do you think you are creative, inventive, on top of things, filled with brilliant ideas? Do you suffer from the occasional (they’re all too frequent!) severe headache? 

Barring the exceptional human being that somehow thrives on suffering, whose creativity is sparked by pain, the overwhelming majority of us think better with a head that is not distractingly wracked with excruciating pain. No matter how high your current IQ, it is nothing compared to the degree of creativity, energy, inventiveness, problem solving, coping skills and performance level that are the result of finding significant pain relief from migraine headaches. I speak from my own experience. 

Two heads are better than one – let at least one of them be that of your primary health care physician during a yearly checkup and your health coach on a regular basis the rest of the year. Be patient with yourself and the therapies you undertake – it took decades of habits that could be improved to result in your current condition, and it will take a year or two before you’ll be happy to realize you don’t recognize your new and improved self.


  • Carla Piringer

    Related to noted medical professionals, the author was afflicted with an inherited excruciating migraine condition, followed traditional medical and alternative therapies and has lived migraine-free for over 35 years. She shares her doctor-recommended method in her book, hoping to inspire sufferers to find significant pain relief.

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