My birthday is in 9 days. Internally, the back of my mind is casting a shadow on this event, because this time last year, my brother Jason was dying and none of us knew it.
The doctors say that his aortic aneurysm was so small that if he’d had himself checked out, they would have been able to repair the damage. But, by the time he was in surgery it was too late. It had been left unattended for too long. He had to know he something was wrong, there’s no way that he didn’t. Half of his organs were shutting down by the time he got to the hospital – a place he did not want to be and he actually tried to refuse transport because he was concerned about medical costs.
I spent many years working at a breast cancer non-profit. During that time, I saw so many people who’d lost loved ones because their loved ones ignored their bodies. They felt a lump and yet did nothing. Or perhaps they even had the diagnosis confirmed, but then hoped it would magically go away.
I’ve done this myself – when I had my first seizure I didn’t tell my doctor until two days later. She did what any good doctor would do – she yelled at me. She gave me the riot act about how I need to learn to listen to my body because I have a very serious illness that can progress suddenly, etc…. Of course, I was a bit naive and uninformed and didn’t realize how dangerous my illness actually was.
I don’t know why we do these things – why we ignore our bodies even when it is so plainly obvious that something is wrong with them. I don’t know if it’s because we are afraid to be weak, because we don’t want to upset those we love, or because we simply do not want to deal with reality.
What I do know is that when we ignore our bodies we end up worse off than we would have been had we paid attention and seen a doctor.
So please, if you feel that something is not right with your health – it doesn’t matter how small it may seem and it doesn’t matter if the people around you dismiss it as nothing – please see your doctor and get a second opinion, as well. Listen to your body and do everything you can to protect your health, if not for yourself, then for the people who love you and would be lost without you.