Moonwalking man: the result of ignoring health warnings

Moonwalking man: the result of ignoring health warnings

Opinion
Moonwalker: Gazette editor Matt Lawrence concedes a lack of attention to his health and wellbeing has led to his current predicament.

Moonwalker: Gazette editor Matt Lawrence concedes a lack of attention to his health and wellbeing has led to his current predicament.

Aa

Hawkesbury Gazette editor Matt Lawrence wants fellas to start taking their health seriously and avoid becoming a hospital emergency ward statistic, as he recently found himself.

Aa

Over the past couple of months I've perfected the art of moonwalking ... just don't expect to see me on a dance floor any time soon.

Unfortunately my moves are far clunkier than vintage Michael Jackson steps, thanks to a heavy "moon boot" I find myself confined to as I heal from recent foot surgery.

Don't get feeling sorry for me. I should have seen it coming and had it not been for my own blokey stupidity, it is a situation which probably could have been avoided.

I, like many fellas, tend to leave my medical complaints to fester. Quite crazy really, when you consider I've been stressing the importance of men's health via community media organisations such as this for more than 25 years.

I should know better.

But as fate has it, I find myself conceding that it is no wonder the annual health campaigns continue, when even a supporter doesn't take heed.

Cutting a long story short, year's of self abuse and blissful disregard have led me to the wrong side of a healthy weight, the wrong side of the type-2 diabetic index, and now showing the (thankfully) fading remnants of a foot ulcer.

The moon boot, as I am finding, is a small price to pay for my stupidity of not taking stock of my situation and engaging the help of health professionals a lot sooner.

Fact is, weeks of "she'll be right", self "care" of the said ulcer, led me to being hospitalised, with an infected wound that went down to the bone.

Had I not been one of the lucky ones - with adequate circulation - healing may not have been an option ... losing the lower half of my leg may well have.

So why am I sharing this? Simple. Too many of we fellas fall into the same category, that of the medically ignorant.

Fact is, we are not the supermen we'd like to think we are.

It's no doubt a big factor in the shortened lifespan of the male of the species, when compared to that of our much more medically savvy female equivalents.

This experience has certainly served as a wake-up call for me. But the fact remains. It shouldn't have come to this.

In an article shared across the Australian Community Media group, of which the Gazette belongs, general practitioner Dr Amandeep Hansra said that men tended to have worse health outcomes than women globally.

She said that women outlived men by an average, across the world, of six years (WHO, 2014) and that in Australia, despite being 49 per cent of the population, men accounted for 53 per cent of the total disease burden (AIHW, 2015).

"This is caused by a number of factors, but one being that men are less likely to visit a doctor when they are unwell and even when they do see a doctor, they often do not disclose all of their symptoms," Dr Hansra said.

"This has led to effectively 'a men's health gap' and the drive to promote the benefits of accessing health care early on for men, as well as encouraging them to be open about their symptoms."

I can attest to the above assertion. I kept my foot wound from my GP for more than a month before telling her about it.

Dr Hansra said that men should be having several health checks at any age such as skin checks (yearly), dental checks and testicular self-examination.

She said for other health conditions, depending on risk, for example, if a man has risk factors for heart disease he should have his blood pressure checked every two years if he is under 40 and yearly after the age of 40 or if there is a family history of heart disease.

"Cholesterol checks should also be done from the age of 40 or 45 depending on risk factors and in some cases, a GP may recommend other heart disease checks if you are over 50 or are at high risk," Dr Hansra said.

She said other conditions and issues that a GP may screen for include immunisations, diabetes, prostate cancer, bowel cancer, eye disease, bone density checks and mental health issues.

"Many of these checks need to be customised to your risk factors and your GP can help come up with a preventative health check plan for you specifically.

"It is important to have a discussion early on with your GP to see how you can stay healthy and identify any disease as early as possible.

"I would strongly recommend anyone 40 and over to see their GP and discuss what checks need to be completed."

However, Dr Hansra said, regardless of age, if there are any unusual symptoms or concerns about your health, including your mental health and wellbeing, you should book an appointment to see your GP.

"Men often delay talking to their doctor about what they think are embarrassing issues such as sexual health concerns, mental health or alcohol and drug issues.

"As a GP, we have seen it all and it is our job to deal with these issues, so do not be afraid of bringing them up with us.

"Talking to us early about your symptoms may just save your life," Dr Hansra said.

MEN'S HEALTH CHECKLIST

IN YOUR 20s

  • Annual physical exam to include blood pressure, height, and weight.
  • Vision/dental exams once a year.
  • STD testing/HIV screening every two years.
  • Testicular cancer screening every year
  • Cholesterol testing every five years.

IN YOUR 30s

  • All of the above and blood tests for diabetes, thyroid disease, liver problems, and anaemia.
  • Screening for coronary heart disease once a year.

IN YOUR 40s

  • All of the above and cardiovascular evaluation every five years.
  • Screening for prostate cancer every year.

IN YOUR 50s

  • All of the above and annual screening for type 2 diabetes.
  • Vision and hearing exams every year.
  • Screening for depression every year.
  • Screening for lipid disorders annually.
  • Screening for colon cancer with faecal occult test, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy annually.

IN YOUR 60s

  • All of the above and annual screening for osteoporosis.
  • Continue colorectal screening based upon previous studies and results.
  • Screening for dementia and Alzheimer's on an annual basis.
Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by