Less Than Scratch


Health Maintenance
April 1, 2009, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Fitness and Health

When it comes to car maintenance, I spare no expense.  “I need a new air filter?  Go for it.  I need a radiator flush as well?  Clean ‘er out.”  Am I being had some of the time?  Probably.  But I’d rather do too much than not enough.  I think I’m particularly concerned because my car is a lease.  I don’t want to mess up someone else’s vehicle (and have to pay for it).  And the thought of stalling out on the side of the road, engine smoking, because I couldn’t find 20 minutes to get an oil change scares me.

Now, despite all my concerns for preventative car maintenance, when it comes to my health I’ve been seriously lacking. I recently discovered that I haven’t been to my primary care doctor or the optometrist in about 2 years. Considering this, I need to thank my lucky stars that I’ve been in good health for the majority of that time. I know one reason I haven’t been exactly vigilant with my health is due to no health insurance. It’s no excuse, but it certainly makes it harder to make the appointments I should when I know it’ll cost me five times as much. Insurance aside, often I ignore these things because there seems to be nothing wrong. Out of sight, out of mind. At least with my car, there’s a sticker on my windshield reminding me of my next maintenance check. With health issues, often we don’t think about it until it’s too late and something serious has happened.

Recently, my stock of emergency inhalers ran dry. These inhalers are for sudden asthma attacks, but more so for preventing any breathing difficulty during exercise (I’m lucky that my asthma has become milder as I’ve gotten older). So if I wanted to keep exercising, I needed to replenish my prescription. I called my old primary care doctor in Ohio to see if I could cheat and just have them write me a new prescription. It was then that I was informed that I hadn’t been there for two years and no, they couldn’t write one. This meant I would get to venture to an Urgent Care clinic (no primary care physician yet now that I’ve moved to CA). A 2 hour wait and almost $200 later, I have a fresh stock of emergency inhalers. Using this momentum, I decided to order more contacts. I had run out about a month ago but was relying on my glasses until the job situation improved. Unfortunately, that prescription had also expired as I had been equally as lax about seeing the optometrist as I had my primary care doctor. $200 and an eye appointment later, I have a year supply of contacts en route to my apartment.

Without insurance, these costs add up quickly. I have learned my lesson and am in the process of obtaining my own insurance policy. $54 a month is certainly cheaper than $200 in one day. Though I suspect having insurance will do more than just protect me in case of an emergency. I’ll be more likely to keep up with regular checkups–you get so many a year so I may as well use them. Also, I’ll simply have piece of mind knowing I have safeguards in place.

Another thing that brought my health to my attention is that I’m going to begin marathon training at the end of this month. All exercise programs say to consult your doctor before beginning them and I’ve always decidedly ignored that warning. Now, though, maybe due to the extreme nature of the marathon, I’m more keen to follow this advice and talk to a doctor. Also, I’m going to be putting myself in a position where I have an increased likelihood of injuring myself or having asthma issues. It’d be nice to have a doctor’s appointment that isn’t mostly playing catch-up on my medical history should something like this arise.

Overall, keeping up with health maintenance will help to prevent costly health disasters in the future. Not only could any avoidable health emergencies be expensive, they could have long-lasting, detrimental effects as well. In terms of logistics, maybe I should start keeping a notebook of my own health history of sorts. When I recently tried to fill out a health insurance application, I realized I have a terrible memory and sense of time. If I just had a notebook with everything in it, things would have been much easier. Is this something people do? Or do I just have a bad memory when it comes to these things? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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