An excuse a day keeps the doctor away

I was having dinner with friends one evening when I felt a numbness in my chest. I thought maybe it was from something spicy I had eaten, so I excused myself from the table and walked to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face and paced in the stall, hoping the feeling would go away. But it just got worse, spreading from my chest to my left arm. My hands grew cold and clammy.

I went to the hospital later that night, and found out that my blood pressure was unusually high: 160/90. She asked me to return the following morning for a laboratory tests, including a blood test. I, of course, didn’t go back.

I’ve always felt like I could take care of my health on my own, just by eating properly and getting plenty of exercise. I’m stubborn too, which I inherited from my parents. I’ve watched my mother drag herself into work for a 12-hour shift for the seventh day in a row, when most people would have been bedridden. My father didn’t like to go to the doctor either.

A few weeks before he died when I was 10, we were playing catch in front of our house when I hit accidentally him in the thigh with a baseball. A bruise that should have been the size of a golf ball swelled to the size of a grapefruit. He promised he’d get it checked out but kept putting off making an appointment. He didn’t realize it at the time, but his blood wasn’t clotting like it was supposed to. He finally made an appointment for a Tuesday. He suffered an abdominal aneurysm two days before the scheduled appointment, and died on a Sunday. Continue reading

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