One of the common refrain often put up by people as defense mechanism when advised to check out themselves even when there are no apparent health challenge is to say that what they don’t know will not kill them. How wrong they are! Though death is inevitable for all, in reality, what you don’t know kills more quickly, more mercilessly and ruthlessly than what you know. There is usually the element of suddenness (of deteriorated health or death) which does not allow the victim the time to properly plan and mitigate the adverse effects of the situation.
Most of us know our phone numbers, that of our spouse(s), girlfriend(s) or boy friend(s). We know our account numbers, BVN, passport number, vehicles number and so many others and yet we don’t know our blood pressure, a reading that is a major creator of irreversible disabilities and premature death if it is high and left unattended. The truth is, if you cannot reel out your latest blood pressure reading (maximum 3 months old), you may be a time bomb just waiting to explode.
How about your blood sugar that is diagnostic of diabetes mellitus, one of the most multi-systemic and debilitating disease known to man or your blood cholesterol a good index of what stress your engine; the heart may be going through or your basic metabolic index (BMI), a good reflection of your physical fitness.
Do you know your HIV, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections status? These are diseases that are often in the body, silent, symptomless but gradually and steadily eating away the live of its host, making you a risks to others including your loved ones.
As a man over 40, what is the state of your prostate gland, a structure at the neck of the bladder that is often afflicted by cancer that has been known to spread to the nervous system causing paralysis. What about your large intestine, your liver, lungs and other major body organs that can be sites for cancerous growth which may not be immediately obvious except you make a deliberate effort to check.
As a woman, how healthy is your breast, that beautiful adornment that is known to sometimes become a source of pain, suffering and premature death. How about your cervix, your ovaries, womb and such other structures that define your womanhood but can also harbor silent killers if you fail to check regularly.
In addition to not knowing our vital numbers, we often also claim not to have time. Time to do physical exercise and improve our general wellbeing, time to go on vacation and replenish, time to eat and properly chew homemade healthy meals, time to meditate and refocus ourselves psychologically. Some of us can’t even create adequate time for sleep and rest as we live our lives under constant race of meeting deadlines.
When we create time to visit clubs and supposed relaxation arena, the drive is often for business links and at weekends, we are almost always at social parties putting up appearances largely just to be socially correct. We then resort to excessive alcohol to supposedly calm our nerves while some take to cigarette smoking or recreational drug use becoming addicted and virtually opening the door of their heart to known killers.
In the final analysis, our lifestyles and our health seeking behavior are critical to determining the kind of illnesses we suffer, the severity of such an illness when it is discovered and the prospect of a cure or control to ensure optimal functionality for daily living. In most instances, prevention is possible when we adopt the right lifestyles and do not necessary wait for illness to strike before we take action.
With the advancement that has been made in medicine and health science, many diseases have become preventable, controllable or curable when we take proactive actions to practice positive health seeking behavior including lifestyle modifications and regular medical revision of our body system. HIV infection, Cancers, heart diseases are no longer a sentence to an existence of chronic suffering or to death. However, the choice always belong to the individual to either take action and know his/her health status on a continuous basis or play the ostrich and keep telling him or herself that what I don’t know cannot kill me or that I don’t have time.
Dr. Iziaq Kunle Salako,
Public Health Physician,
President, Health and Wellness Optimization Foundation.