Make Men's Health Month About You

The month of November is (one of the) Men's Health Month(s), popularized by the Movember movement. (June is another recognized annual event but since it is November now, November it is.)
It's a great foundation, it has been successful and is highly rated for its impact. But, one thing I see with the movement is that while they speak about men's health to the participants, I feel the participants themselves promote it outwardly rather than inward, at them. I personally fell victim to that selfsame issue, but no longer. As of this November, I am taking care of myself.

Movember started out as prostate cancer awareness, then pivoted to men's health in general (first mostly physical), and now has settled on promoting both mental and physical health to men. Milwaukee has had a fantastic local participation, thanks in part to great local leaders like the local Community Ambassador Dave Thorpe. In addition to the Movember Network link previously, you can follow all the activities planned in Milwaukee at the Facebook page. I used to participate in the November activities, but then the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride allied with Movember foundation with a ride that was in September and now May, and that is my current way to participate in the movement as local ride captain. But as I have alluded, I didn't fully practice what I preached. Sure I have tried to live healthfully, but I didn't do the number one thing we all need to do to truly pursue health: regularly visit a primary care physician. That changed this year.

It was just time. Like many things, you can't be forced to do it, but I strongly recommend it. The earlier the better. I had gone for my first general assessment in years in 2020, November as well (the month chosen may have as much to do with it being by birth month as it being men's health month), and didn't have great numbers. The Dr. thought the test may have been bad, maybe I didn't fast long enough, so he wanted me to retest in a few months. It was the middle of COVID and the next year, 2021 was still in the thick of it. I also had been losing weight to the tune of 10 lbs. a year for 3 years and I wanted to get to my healthy weight to see if it helped the numbers. So, I did not go back, not months later, but two years later. Not until this year, a week ago. Going in, I really thought my weight loss was going to have improved my health. That was not to be the case.

Here's the thing, we often try to self-diagnose, using our gut or the interwebs, both which can be wrong. In my case, I thought my weight loss was from other factors, but other than starting some multivitamins and supplements, its not like I increased exercise or something. The weight loss, it turns out, was from my new diagnosis: Type II Diabetes. We often see diabetes related to being overweight, and I was overweight, more than I really accepted. Like many health issues, I only realized the extent when it started getting better, when I started losing weight and compared myself to the time before. The weight gain for years before probably got me to Diabetes, which then actually caused the weight loss (you can look up yourself how that might happen if curious). But me not being a Dr. I was like, hey weight loss is good, and hoped it would improve my numbers for this recent exam and bloodwork. The opposite was true. Some of the people I have told, like family, were surprised. I am sure some who know me will be when they read this. I eat pretty healthy, I had my weight loss smoke and mirrors. I haven't had any symptoms (that I know of, we'll see looking back if I notice improvements on things I didn't even know weren't great.) The lesson is to not take any change in health lightly, even for the better, as it can be a Trojan Horse. Get regular checkups and let a professional tell you what is going on for better or worse. Don't not get an exam just because you think you are doing fine or even better. Make sure you are doing well. Go every year, at minimum. 

I am addressing it. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed, I'm not hiding it. There's no reason it, it happens. Sure I could have possibly prevented, but maybe not, sometimes its just biological. I just need to do my best to take care of myself now. I listened to the Dr. and was all in on the prescribed path to improve it. I know its something that isn't cured. Like many health issues as we age, I know its a long term, life term, therapy I will have to do. I may be able to reduce medications, or change them if I follow the instructions, but I will never go off them. You just can't. And we have to prepare ourselves that its just part of the aging process, almost everyone will eventually have to take some medications. That's okay. But I have to follow the doctor's orders, because if I don't I could develop serious conditions like kidney disease or neuropathy or vision problems. And I don't want any of that.

One last note, pursue health for you, not others. That can be a trap. We say we want to be healthy to be around for others (those of us that care that much). But just like any health issue, such as smoking or drinking, you have to do it for YOU. Your personal path to better health will stay on track better if you are doing it because you want to be be healthier, not because someone else does, or because you are doing it for someone else.


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