By: Naifa White, RN
The other day my six-year old son excitedly exclaimed, “Look, Mommy! My tooth is wiggly. It’s going to come out at 4o’clock today! “
Me: “How do you know it’s going to come out today?”
Jordan: “Because it sent me signals!”
All I could do was laugh. After all, we all know that teeth don’t send signals…Or do they?
Actually, he wasn’t too far off the mark. Our bodies really do send us clues when some “change” has occurred. Many women experience early pregnancy symptoms even before taking a urine pregnancy test. Some people complain of localized calf pain or sudden shortness of breath when blood clots are present. Others may report difficulty speaking or sudden dizziness, vision changes or weakness on one side of their body when experiencing a stroke. We just have to be attentive to the signs our body sends us so we can respond properly.
So, when a family member casually mentioned that they kept waking up at night to urinate and were frequently thirsty (in additional to being overweight), I was immediately concerned. They had just described the symptoms that are often associated with diabetes. Unfortunately, they were very reluctant to schedule a doctor’s appointment. It wasn’t until months later that they were finally diagnosed with a triple whammy - diabetes, hypertension as well as high cholesterol. Their denial had only postponed their diagnosis, not their disease.
As busy women, moms, wives and nurturers, we frequently put our health on the back burner. We are the last ones to bed, the last to eat a wholesome meal and the last to seek medical attention. However, while it’s admirable to prioritize the needs of others, it’s not always the wisest choice! Like the flight attendants regularly instruct us, “First, secure your own oxygen mask before attempting to assist others”. In other words, before helping others, make sure you’re safe and sound. Then, you can most effectively care for others.
Please, also note that while many disorders do provide “hints” when something is awry, many are practically undetectable without the evaluation of a skilled clinician and/or the use of specialized tests such as a blood pressure machine, blood tests, pap smears, mammograms or bone density tests. This is why routine medical examinations are invaluable. They save thousands of lives each year and increase our chances of having manageable treatment options.