My month of health screens

 In an ordinary year, June doesn't have much to recommend it. The days are short, so after-hours daylight is too brief to do anything with. There's no particular sprinkling of public holidays. There's a go-slow in nature.

It's good catch-up-and-consolidate time. I mark June as the month of medical screens. Eye check, dentist, dermatologist… you get the picture. Not much excitement around today; guess I'll go see whether the dentist has any ambitions for my mouth.

So far so good, I'm happy to report: one or two modifications performed, but I'm in sparkling health.

That's the good thing about screens: you know you're OK for at least another year. If we can do our cars at regular intervals, you'd think we should do our own bodies the same courtesy. In fact, I've long cherished a fantasy that we might be able one day to check ourselves in for a major annual service during which all the routine stuff can be performed, as well as any maintenance we fancy.

Just think: while you're floating in a pink cloud of oblivion, other people could be getting your root canal treatment out of the way, doing any colonic investigations required, sorting your ingrown toenails, taking a Pap smear, doing any bloods required, checking your prostate.

They could also bleach your coffee-and-red-wine teeth, wax any bits you're committed to smoothing, deal with your corns... And then you could have a cup of tea in a gentle recovery room, and go home.

Seriously, though, screens are important. Health24's Health of the nation survey revealed that South Africans are hardly proactive. It asked us whether we'd had specific screening tests in the previous year, and the results were dismal. Though 30 people die daily of heart attacks (check out your chances here), nearly half of us (44%) hadn't checked out that first warning sign: cholesterol. Though cervical cancer is the main cancer impacting on women, 53% of women hadn't had a pap smear. Only two out of five of us go for regular dental checks. And so on.

So listen, winter has a way to go still. Make your GP happy. Stop grumbling about the time and money and awkwardness, and book yourself and those you love, in for a medical once-over.
(Heather Parker, Health24, July 2010)

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