Saturday, March 19, 2011

#32: Get a Physical

At this time last year, I was still seeing my family doctor back in Milton, despite having lived in Toronto full-time for over two years. I was comfortable seeing her, because a) I rarely needed to and b) she knew my medical history. I never saw a need to change to a doctor downtown.

In April of last year, however, a colleague at work told me his new, downtown doctor had some openings. I could have an appointment within a week. After vetting alternative options, I booked a 'meet and greet', and eventually, had the first physical of my life.

Ok, so my physical didn't lead to my diagnosis. But, having a doctor who was easy to access, and close to where I live, did. My physical was in April, and the pain in my back and my shortness of breath began shortly thereafter. My doctor ordered a chest x-ray after listening to me breathe through a stethoscope.

She had been my doctor for three whole months when she broke the news of a large, 10cm x 15cm mass in my right chest cavity. Eventually, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Something so basic, done in every single physical examination, led to the discovery and early detection of my major health event. I began chemotherapy treatment six short weeks after that appointment.

We all hope we don't find anything at our physicals. But no matter what, every year for the rest of my life, I'll be at my doctor's with bells on, ready for my annual check-up (even if it is my oncologist who will perform them).

Let's just hope the worst examination yet is the one I've already had!

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