Monday 5 February 2024

Men's Health: Do the important and intimate checks

Looking forward

I have noticed an enthusiasm with which I talk about becoming 60, I am hardly 2 months into being 58, yet, next year is the golden jubilee. I first noticed this when I attended a group session that involved yoga exercises, I could not help but notice my apparent flexibility as compared to many of the younger participants. Our yoga instructor herself is 60.

However, it is not just a matter of age but one of wearing it well, the whole body positivity discourse also involves a bit of work on our part, it should not be a license to just let everything go. Indeed, we should be happy with our bodies, especially with the things we cannot change, things we can change with regards to losing pounds/kilos, healthy eating, a bit of exercise, and basic medical check-ups must be attended to.

Screenings galore

Those things have had my medical minders harping on about what should be checked and noticed so issues can be caught and dealt with promptly. The other day, it was the NHS sending a bowel cancer screening kit that required a sampling of my stool for analysis to be sent in the post for a result that thankfully meant there was nothing to be concerned about. This, I am informed, would be checked every two years.

Another range of issues that have come up have to do with blood pressure, diabetes, prostate cancer, liver and kidney function, and cholesterol checks. Most of these I have twice a year under my regular clinical checks apart from the prostate cancer prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This has come up in a few discussions in group sessions and even closer to home but has been left unattended to.

Blood tales

When the results of blood tests came in just over 2 months ago, I found that my mean corpuscular volume (MCV) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH) were reading beyond the normal range on the high side and indicative of both Vitamin B12 and folate (Vitamin B9) deficiency. This would mean despite my consumption of red meat and other aspects of diet; I was not getting enough from food and even supplements. All other indicators are normal.

This issue of Folic Acid Deficiency Anaemia came up about 7 years ago and I took supplements for it that subsequent readings came within range. It is the symptom of peripheral neuropathy in my right hand, that got me a bit concerned that I had to call my GP surgery for a conversation, and this meant I was in the surgery early this morning to give blood for a whole battery of tests to assess basically everything.

Eye on the future

It is not only for peace of mind, the knowledge about how your body is performing can allow for the necessary adjustments to keep you well and healthy. I know it is difficult for men to broach and discuss intimate health issues, but what is worse is leaving it to a point when you literally have no other options apart from facing terminal and possibly managed decline.

Having once had life-threatening cancer almost 15 years ago, I am aware of the need to be informed and understanding of the conditions in my body. There are probably times I have been fatalistic thinking I did not have much time left and did not effectively plan for the future. There have been such great advances in medicine and outcomes, then the good results of tests conducted over a decade that would suggest that I have been miraculously blessed to have better health, fitness, and strength than I have had in decades.

This calls for apprehension and anticipation, regulation, and planning, even so, the consideration beyond self to others with whom one shares life, experiences, hope, and a future. If anything is to be learnt, it is, health is wealth and men need to do the healthy to remain wealthy.

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