People often talk about going to the doctor to get a ‘check-up’, and have a lot of different expectations about what this actually means. Many patients believe this means an examination and a series of tests that can give them a ‘clean bill of health’. This is actually a myth. There are so many things that can go wrong with the human body, all we can really do is target the commonest and obvious conditions.
Before doing an examination or ordering tests, we always start with your story – what is your lifestyle like, do certain illnesses run in your family, do you smoke, drink, use drugs, have lots of casual sex, do any exercise etc?
If you’re an overweight couch-surfing smoker whose family members tend to drop like flies from heart attacks in early adulthood, then your checkup might include cholesterol, blood pressure and even a chest x-ray.
If you’re addicted to Grindr then your checkup will include a full sexual health screening, and if you have an account at the local bottle shop, then you can count on a liver function test.
And if you’re a celibate tea-totaller vegetarian marathon runner whose family all live to be over 100, what are you doing in my office?
But seriously, the truth is that there are only so many tests we can order, and there is no such thing as a clean bill of health, but a check-up can be a great opportunity to take stock of your life and make positive changes for a healthy future then you don’t have to worry about such things, but if you’ve got a cervix, then get a Pap!