I remember April 12, 1999 like it was yesterday. My new family doctorstipsonline called and said, “I need you to come in for another blood test. I found something and I need to be sure.”
Let me clarify – for me, this ‘new’ family doctor was actually the first doctor I had seen since my move to Toronto from the US in 1981, fully sixteen years before. I didn’t feel any need to see a doctor. The only reason I made this appointment was because my dad requested it. Apparently his doctor found something in him that could be genetically passed down to his sons. So my two brothers and I dutifully trotted off to see a doctor if only to put our dad’s mind at ease.
When You See a Doctor It’s Either Good News or Bad News
Just a day after submitting my second blood test, Dr. Kerlow called again and said, “The results have been confirmed. I need you to come in so we can discuss the ramifications. It’s urgent. Can you come in this afternoon?”
Now I’m not one to worry, but these words from Dr. Kerlow sure piqued my curiosity. At age 45, I prided myself on being in better shape than a lot of men my age. In fact, most people usually guessed my age to be in the low 30’s. Come on now, there was no reason for me to worry. And the way I was feeling, surely I didn’t have to see a doctor.
When I arrived at my appointment, Dr. Kerlow greeted me with a warm, friendly smile. Yet I could sense a seriousness in his gaze, almost as if he wished he didn’t have to deliver this message. He began, “I have good news for you. We did the screening and you can tell your father that he doesn’t have to worry.”
“However…” he continued.
The length of time between that word and the next seemed interminable. Indeed, it was a moment frozen in eternity.
“Both of your blood tests conclude that you have CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. From the looks of things, you’ve had it for some time now because it has advanced into what we call stage two…”
For the next 15 minutes or so, Dr. Kerlow explained the meaning of my blood test results. He discussed the prognosis, citing various statistics of other people with my same condition. He concluded with a suggested plan of action, encouraging me to go home and talk it over with my family before taking another step.
Your Life May Change When You See A Doctor
My life truly changed the day I took my dad’s advice to see a doctor. As is usually the case, I went through all the gears, from disbelief to denial, anger to acceptance. Today, nearly 11 years later, I’m happy to report that the CLL is under control. In fact, my white blood cell counts are actually improving, much to my oncologist’s surprise.
I still see a doctor – two, in fact, Dr. Kerlow and Dr. Chiarotto, my oncologist – on a regular basis. While my health is generally good, there remains some minor issues. My wife Maggie would like me to see a doctor whenever any little thing comes up. I resist.
And that is the point of my sharing this story with you today. Why don’t people want to see a doctor on a more regular basis, especially if there are symptoms that might indicate larger underlying problems?