When I went for blood work the other day, it was four months after my doctor had given me the requisition slip.
A friend at work waited six months.
We figure we’re intelligent people, yet we put off for months something that took roughly a whole hour out of each of our lives.
How smart is that? And heaven forbid the blood work turned up something serious that would’ve benefited greatly from being spotted months before.
Yet many of us put off necessary medical tests or even just regular maintenance because we insist we have too much else to do.
Heck, there are people who take better care of their vehicles than themselves.
Everyone feels guilty about taking time away from work or potentially “wasting the doctor’s time” on something that might turn out to be insignificant, yet it’s because we drag our feet that serious illnesses can go untreated. Someone has a heart attack because they dismissed nagging back pain as “a bad back,” or a stroke because they wrote off a severe headache as “tension” or chalked it up to “staring at a computer screen for too long.”
You can get your car tires switched twice a year but yet can’t get that Pap smear or prostate check done annually. You get your truck’s oil changed faithfully but never get your own blood pressure checked.
Why do we neglect ourselves?
I once had a boss who wisely observed, “No one ever has ‘I should’ve spent more time at work’ carved on their headstone.”
It’s great to be a driven employee, but it’s much better to be a healthy, happy one with a good work/life balance.
Among members of my “sandwich” generation, there are often the competing demands of helping aged parents, children who still need emotional if not practical support, family pets that require medical care, or perhaps a spouse or friend with a serious illness, so you shuffle yourself and your medical care to the bottom of the list — which, in the end, is best for no one.
If your responsibilities are that all-encompassing, that pressing, who’s going to step in and take on those responsibilities when you get sick?
If the answer is no one, then you need to make your own well-being a priority, for everyone’s sake.
Last week, I had to take my mother for an early morning eye exam and, to further justify taking the time off work, I arranged to have one myself. As is typical, I was long overdue, since eye health and dental health often — wrongly — take a backseat to general medical health, unless you find yourself in an emergency.
I stressed about the outing the night before, tossing and turning, mind racing: what if Mom isn’t ready and we’re late? (“I’m no good for rushing around first thing in the morning,” she says.) What if she refuses to go? (She hates deviating from her daily routine.) What if we have to wait an hour and then I’m even later getting back to work?
In the end, we got there on time. There was no long wait. The world did not end. We both got our eyes checked and I got Mom safely home and myself back to work. End of story.
And in between all that we had a lovely shared experience, reverting to our old mother and daughter roles:
“Do up your coat, it’s freezing!”
“You’re driving too fast!”
“Mom, I’m doing the speed limit.” (Eye roll).
“Did the doctor say your eyes are OK?”
“Yes Mom, they’re fine.”
Yes, we’re all busy. We’re all under pressure at work to perform and meet deadlines and get things done.
But there ain’t nothing getting done if we’re laid up or gone.
It’s Valentine’s Day. Why not practice a little self-love and do something nice for your mind, body and soul?
As Oscar Wilde once quipped, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.”
Pam Frampton is The Telegram’s associate managing editor. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: pam_frampton