The Good Doc­tor says you only get one body, so take care of it

Times Chronicle - - OPINION -

The hu­man body is like an au­to­mo­bile. Fill it with fuel and it will take you mile af­ter mile as long as ev­ery­thing about it is run­ning well. How­ever, we tend to worry more about the cars than our own bod­ies.

Most men will show more con­cern about drip­ping mo­tor oil than con­cern over lin­ger­ing aches and pains.

Some­times hu­mans do not have aches, pains or any other health symp­toms. As peo­ple age, it may hap­pen that sud­den death is the only sign that some­thing was wrong.

Strangely, many men, of­ten out of sheer machismo, try to ig­nore not feel­ing well and go to the emer­gency room only with chest pain or ac­tual bleed­ing from the bow­els, in the urine or dur­ing a cough or vom­it­ing. In con­trast, many a man will take his car into the shop if he even sus­pects that some­thing is wrong.

At an emer­gency room, the doc­tor be­comes a med­i­cal de­tec­tive. The pa­tient is anx­ious to talk about symp­toms, but in­stead, is puz­zled why so many seem­ingly un­re­lated ques­tions are asked. Pa­tients should place all their faith in the med­i­cal in­ter­views be­cause many un­re­lated facts re­veal a lot about the pa­tient and what might be go­ing on.

Usu­ally, no an­swers are given un­til lab re­sults, u-ray re­ports and WKH SKyVLFDO HxDPLnDWLRn DUH fiWWHG to­gether like a jig­saw puz­zle. In times past, an ex­cel­lent di­ag­nos­ti­cian was said to smell a dis­ease upon en­ter­ing a room. Physi­cians were proud of their abil­ity to di­ag­nRVH D VSHFL­fiF GLVHDVHG KHDUW YDOYH or tu­ber­cu­lo­sis us­ing a stetho­scope and a thump on the chest. To­day, the doc­tor adds u-rays, an ECHO of the heart and scans to the sounds com­ing down the stetho­scope.

We’re lucky to live now and not many years ago. In the past, be­fore CT scans and MRI ma­chines, the doc­tor had to per­form an ex­plorDWRUy HxDP WR finG RXW wKDW wDV wrong, oper­at­ing on the pa­tient in the search for an­swers. To­day, an ex­ploratory pro­ce­dure is rarely per­formed.

There are two types of pa­tients who should have com­plete ex­am­i­na­tions: peo­ple who do not feel well for their age, and peo­ple who just want to know what is go­ing on inside.

In ei­ther case, it is im­por­tant to finG RXW LI D GLVHDVH LV SUHVHnW RU noth­ing is wrong. Un­for­tu­nately, in this ideal world of prob­lem solv­ing, if noth­ing is wrong, the in­sur­ance com­pany may not pay for the tests.

There is some­thing wrong with how we re­ward a healthy per­son. If no dis­ease is found, al­though we’re re­lieved, we worry that the in­sur­ance com­pany might con­clude that there were no rea­sons to do the tests at their ex­pense. A per­son al­most wishes he or she were sick to jus­tify the charges.

Look­ing at all this, we should re­al­ize that healthy peo­ple will help our coun­try stay healthy. A healthy coun­try will have less di­a­betes. There will be a longer life ex­pectancy. As we go in a circle, a healthy so­ci­ety will help the econ­omy. We will all help keep costs down when we know our health is good and our pro­duc­tiv­ity is high.

We have a ten­dency to as­sume the United States leads the world in health. Some of the facts from the CIA might sur­prise you.

For health ex­pen­di­tures, the U.S. ranks sec­ond in the world, yet our ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rate (num­ber of moth­ers dy­ing per 100,000 live births) is only 136th out of 183 coun­tries in the world. In in­fant mor­tal­ity, the U.S. is 1T4th among nations, and at life ex­pectancy at birth we’re 50th. The num­ber of youths aged 15 to 24 who are unHPSORyHG finGV XV 66WK FRPSDUHG to other ma­jor coun­tries.

Dr. Mil­ton Fried­man can be reached at tcgn@mont­

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