Healthy Living in the North

Man up: Learning to take our own advice

Steve and his family

Steve, pictured here with his wife Shelley and children Michael and Alyson, was a torch bearer for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Given my recent entry into my forties, I like to think that 42 is the new 22. Well when 22 meets 42 on the soccer field, I’m not so sure. While I won’t go into the details of the clearly savage slide tackle targeted at me (in my opinion, anyway), I can tell you about what happened after. I remember people around me asking, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” – meaning if I merely “hurt,” then man up and get back out there. I didn’t go back in the game, but I did take two aspirin and head home, and not straight to the emergency room (which I know now was the wrong choice). But I mean, it was just a sprain, right?

So off to work on Monday. Much to my surprise, the interesting two-step stride I took down the hall to my office was not met with weekend warrior adulation, but rather with raised eyebrows and the repeated question of “why haven’t you gotten it checked out yet?”  So realizing the audience here was not my team, off I went, 24 hours later, to get the ankle checked.

Through our Northern Health men’s health consultations last fall, we learned that men in the north are raised in a culture where “living hard” is normalized from an early age. It’s ingrained in us to be tough and macho, and unfortunately this is leading to unnecessary illness, disease and early deaths in northern men. So yes, I should know better to take care of my body and my health.

But of course my self-diagnosis was just a sprain, and I figured I’d be back on my feet in no time. Well the doc entered the room, post X-ray, with a grin, and said, “You’ve done this before haven’t you?” I smiled a bit, telling him, “Yeah, both ankles, many times. Lots of sprains over the years, nothing ice and heat can’t take care of.” He nodded and told me that’s what he thought because it’s not a normal ankle anymore. Please note the smile disappeared from my face at this point.

He continued to tell me that there is evidence of two past fractures, numerous bone chips and lots of previous ligament and tendon damage in my ankle. In fact, the x-ray was hard to read because of all the junk floating around in there. He did agree with me though – it was a definite sprain this time!

Perhaps I should have taken the advice of the very organization I work for. I should’ve manned up and had some of those past ‘sprains’ checked out. Apparently I wasn’t merely hurt but I was truly injured….oops.

Have you ever had a moment of clarity when you realized you should “man up?”


Steve Raper

About Steve Raper

With nearly 10 years of experience, Steve is the Regional Director of Communications for Northern Health, where he leads marketing, communications, web and media relations activities. He has a business diploma from the College of New Caledonia, a BA from the University of Northern BC and a master’s degree in business administration from Royal Roads University. In his spare time, Steve volunteers on a number of boards, including Canadian Blood Services, Pacific Sport Northern BC and the Prince George Youth Soccer Association. To stay active, he enjoys camping, playing soccer and hockey, and coaching his children’s soccer teams.