Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: Going to your doctor is the “man-healthy” option. Why should you visit?

Man with his arm around a statue.

Talking to someone about your body and health concerns can be frightening – you may prefer statues – but Jim challenges men to be vulnerable for a while. A quick chat with the doctor can empower you to make choices about health before you are forced to be talking about disease.

It would be great if we could all cut disease off at the pass and catch every ailment before it developed.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could consign disease to history with each of us simply dying in our own beds of old age?

This is a utopian dream, of course, but it is grounded in the need to move our focus from illness to health. That is my discussion here and in my opinion we actually need to access our doctors before we develop a reason to go see one.

The problem with us males might be that we tend to think that if we can work, then we must be healthy. Sometimes we also have the tendency to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the warning signs. I recently did that myself!

Going to the doctor once a year for that face-to-face time or to check blood work or blood pressure is the healthy option for men. I have heard men say that they would not visit a doctor in case “they found something.” As much as I understand that nobody wants to have “something”, it is generally better to have that “something” discovered before it bites your backside and is too late to treat effectively.

The need to try and find disease before it happens is not only wise, but is a strategy employed in many civilized nations with public health departments. Strategies such as immunization and health education are well advanced and often taken for granted. As are such things as access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Without these, many people become ill and many die.

Going to your doctor causes little harm in itself (perhaps some anxiety) and actually empowers you to make choices about your health before you are talking about your disease.

Discussing changes in our bodies and concerns about our health with our doctors gives us the best chance at avoiding some types of cancer and heart disease by making lifestyle changes when they’re still effective at improving our health. Stopping smoking, eating more vegetables and fruit, managing stress and living an active life can not only help us live longer, but live better. Feel better for longer.

Death – so far – has not been overcome, I am told.

Talk to your doctor and be a little vulnerable for a while. No one needs to know about it.

All the best.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.

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Keeping young men healthy

Young man having blood tested by lab technologist.

Regular checkups and tests are important to keeping young men healthy. What’s your maintenance schedule?

“The sooner the better.” Whether it’s when to start saving for retirement, or when to put on your winter tires (hey! we are in the north), these are words of advice that we hear regularly. The earlier you take action, the better it truly is for you – especially when it comes to your health!

Establishing healthy habits and checking in with your body on how things are running can not only improve your health in the short term, but help prevent illness later in life. This is especially important in northern B.C. where men are more likely than their southern counterparts to develop chronic diseases like diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and many types of cancers.

A great resource that Northern Health developed to support men’s health is the MANual. This guide covers many topics related to men’s health, from nutrition and physical activity, to mental wellness and specific disease information, such as prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. The information is developed for – and specific to – men, including young men!

Do you know your maintenance schedule?

Screenshot of health maintenance tips from Northern Health Man Maintenance Guide

Check out Northern Health’s men’s health survival guide, complete with the Man Maintenance Guide, at men.northernhealth.ca

The guide (developed by Northern Health’s own health professionals) suggests that “dudes” (guys aged 18-39) should have some regular maintenance, including:

Yearly:

  • Blood pressure check
  • Dental checkup
  • Testicular self-exam (optional)

Every 3-5 years:

  • Lipid (cholesterol) blood test
  • Diabetes check

If you have specific risk factors or symptoms, you may also want to look into:

  • Prostate checkup
  • Colon & rectal cancer screen
  • Depression screening
  • Influenza vaccine*
  • HIV test (if you are sexually active)

*Keeping all immunizations up-to-date is an important part of routine maintenance for all men. Generally, this means getting a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster every 10 years and making sure you have the shots you need when you travel.

Have you talked to your doctor about any of these?

GOLFing for testicular cancer?
Did you know that testicular cancer more commonly affects younger men? This is one body part you definitely don’t want to ignore! You can grab your life by the … err … “horns” by performing regular self-exams! Just remember GOLF:

  • Groin
  • Only takes a moment
  • Look for changes
  • Feel for anything out of the ordinary

If you do find anything unusual or alarming, talk to your doctor today!

Talk to the experts

Regular maintenance, along with healthy eating and regular physical activity, will give you the chance to get ahead of a major break down. Frequent checkups with your doctor can help to keep your engine running like it just came off the lot!

 

This article was first published in A Healthier You, a joint publication of Northern Health and the Prince George Citizen.

Holly Christian

About Holly Christian

Holly Christian is a Regional Lead for Population Health. She has a passion for healthy living and health promotion and is a foodie at heart. Originally from Ontario, she has fully embraced northern living, but enjoys the warmth of the sun and the sound of the ocean. She swims, bikes and runs, and just completed her first marathon.

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