I consider myself in pretty good health, but I was not prepared for what came along with turning 50. My mom and friends tried to warn me, but I felt that what they were saying did not apply to me. Yikes, I was in store for a rude awakening.
In general, men are not good about routine doctor’s visits and paying attention to their health. The reasons vary, including financial concerns, medical mistrust, or fear of being vulnerable. No matter what the reason, it is time for men, especially black men, to take control of their health and that needs to happen way before 50.
It started toward the middle of 2017 on one of my routine doctor visits when I realized my blood pressure was getting high. I was instructed to check my blood pressure a few times a week and write it down. During this process, I noticed that my blood pressure was not anywhere near 120/80 and I started to worry. How could this be? I exercised 4-5 a week. While I have a decent diet (I love food) and love a good gin and tonic, I thought all the weightlifting and cardio balanced it all out for me. But when this happened, I was put on blood pressure medicine- ugh!! I was not a happy camper!
As I got closer to 50, I began to feel aches and pains in my body that I never felt before. I decided to Google my symptoms. On one of my doctor visits I said to the nurse, “I went online and read that my symptoms could be the cause of these three things…” and as I rattled off the list of what I read, she looked at me and said, “Oh no, Dr. Google.” At that point I laughed a little but realized that sometimes researching symptoms online can also be a bad thing.
1. Have routine physical exams that include extensive blood work and STI testing
2. Exercise regularly (weight training and cardio)
3. Monitor what we eat and where we eat.
4. Manage alcohol consumptions.
5. Pay attention to warning signs from your body.
6. Take care of your mental health anxiety, stress and depression can affect your physical health.
7. Get a colonoscopy and a PSA test after turning 50.
8. Get proper rest.
9. Practice mediation, prayer, yoga or massages to relieve stress.
10. ENJOY LIFE!
My mother is 80 years old and is still driving, dancing, gardening and going to the gym. She told me that some days are going to be harder than others, but you’ve got to stay active (mentally and physically) and take one day at a time!