I can’t let other people’s fear keep me from taking care of my health.
I didn’t get a mammogram for years because everybody told me how painful it was. Friends and comedians would joke that getting a mammogram was like slamming your breast in the freezer door, or putting it in a vise. Who would want to do that?
I didn’t go to a gynecologist because my mother never impressed on me that I should. She never went as far as I knew, once she had stopped having children. She thought that sex was dirty. Sex was something you did once a week as a duty to your husband. So she certainly didn’t teach me how to keep my female parts healthy.
Also, friends talked about how uncomfortable it was to go to the gynecologist. Awkward, unpleasant, strange – they really weren’t selling it as something I should do. They always talked about going for a checkup as a chore, kind of like how my Mom talked about sex. One even said she’d rather have a root canal than go to the gynecologist. Either she has a great dentist or a terrible gynecologist.
Then three years ago I read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” and I realized that a woman in her 30s could die of cervical cancer. For some reason I thought that was an older woman’s disease. So I went for my first checkup in 20 years. I found that I had moderate to severe cervical dysphasia. Not cancer, but cancer’s next door neighbor. I had surgery to get it removed. If I had waited, I’d be dead by now from something totally preventable.
Fear and ignorance could have killed me.
Now I’m going to a chiropractor. My friends are now saying what they’ve always said about chiropractors. They are quacks. They insist you come a lot and they don’t promise anything. They heard of somebody who got paralyzed by one. But if I’d gone to a regular doctor for my slipped disc a week ago I would have been given pain pills and muscle relaxers. I still would have had a slipped disc. I just wouldn’t have cared.
I’m sure there are true stories of chiropractors who have accidentally harmed patients. But how many regular doctors have perfect records? There is a reason medical malpractice insurance is expensive. Nobody is perfect.
My chiropractor has a good point. We get our teeth checked twice a year, and if one of them goes bad we can get a replacement. We can’t replace our spine, yet we never check it.
Sure, I’m not happy about having to go several times a week, but it isn’t forever. It is just for a few months, then it won’t be that often. Plus, it feels amazing.
I like to think of my back as like a bonsai tree. Change can’t happen overnight. When I had braces it took 4 years to get my teeth straight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and my back won’t be healed overnight.
Meanwhile I’m going to try to unlearn a whole lot of nonsense that I was taught, and try not to spread any more of it around.