BY BRIAN RODGERS, D.O.
Davis Wellness columnist
My friend Jay, an expert on automobiles, could tell you that I am not the best at doing all the preventative maintenance for my cars. I try to get my oil changed every three months, and have the shop look at what needs to be done, but I am not perfect. On one vehicle in particular, I missed an oil change, and I had a problem. Apparently there was an oil leak. No one had noticed the oil light come on in the car. Then one day the engine stopped working. I could have paid about $27 to have the car checked and have the oil changed. I ended up spending $2000 to get a new engine. The interesting thing is that the car ran well until that fateful day.
Our bodies are very complicated “machines.” There is a lot that can go wrong. Often things build up for years before we even realize that something is amiss. Most chronic diseases don’t just suddenly appear. They take years to take root and cause damage before we even realize that they are there. It amazes me how many people come in to see me and their first symptom of diabetes is pain and numbness in their feet. The diabetes had to have been there for years prior to this symptom. Often we don’t feel that anything is wrong until it is too late.
Most people are not qualified to tell you if your body is healthy or not, just as I am not the person to know if anything is wrong with my car. I recommend that you have a regular thorough physical. This should include a medical history, a physical exam, health screenings such as vision and hearing and laboratory work. Further testing such as spirometry, EKG, carotid flow studies, and other medical imaging should be done as is suggested by your physician. The most important part of the exam is when you and your physician sit down and discuss a treatment plan to bring your body to health and keep it that way. Your physician can recommend lifestyle modifications, supplements to take, and a prescription, if necessary.
I would have much rather spent $27 for an oil change, and maybe another $200 dollars to repair my oil leak. I wish that we had paid attention to the warning sign of the oil light. We didn’t, and we had to replace an engine. Our bodies are much more complicated than an automobile. It is not easy to get replacement parts. I encourage all of you to be thoroughly evaluated by your primary care physician to prevent disease and to catch the disease process early on to prevent damage to your body. We are not just talking about saving money. I am encouraging you to give yourself the gift of excellent health. You only get one body. Take care of it.