A healthy skepticism about seeing doctors

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A healthy skepticism about seeing doctors


I ended up making an appointment, because if I postpone any further, I would ruin the peace of my family. Nowadays, appointments can be made online. Without even calling the office, I made an appointment for an annual checkup. Perhaps because many others put off the task until the last minute - just like me - not many dates were available before the end of the year. So I will go for a checkup in the middle of the winter.

No one likes going to the doctor’s office, but I especially fear it. If I can avoid it, I will. My wife says illnesses can be treated easily when detected early, but I still hate going to the doctor’s office. I am not very fond of health checkups, either. I don’t want to visit the hospital just to see if there’s anything wrong, wearing a gown and visiting one room after another to get my body checked by a number of doctors. I don’t want to lie down and undergo an endoscopy.

However, frankly speaking, I don’t want to see doctors because something troubles my mind. I am anxious because I have been doing all the things doctors advise against and fear that my lifestyle will result in some ominous diagnosis. Whenever I go for a physical checkup, I feel like I am taking a test for which I didn’t study.

I found a phrase I like from Japanese writer Hiroyuki Itsuki’s “Drop in the River.” He wrote that a man’s ego has a double-helix structure. There is a self as a man in general and a self as a unique existence unlike any other, and the human being exists where the two helixes intersect. Therefore, it is not possible to diagnose and treat my disease with the power of science and medicine applied to general humans. He argued that rather than seeing the doctor frequently, not doing anything you don’t feel like doing is good for your health. The 80-year-old writer has lived by the principle of never going near a doctor’s office. He does, however, visit the dentist.

Nothing was particularly bothering me, but I still felt uncomfortable. I felt tired and unenthusiastic. I asked a doctor friend about it, and he thought it might be seasonal depression. As the amount of sunshine decreases in the fall, secretion of melatonin that regulates physiological rhythm decreases. So he recommended more exposure to sunlight by spending more time outdoors.

No one is 100 percent healthy - physically and mentally. From the birth to death, all humans live with illnesses and conditions, known and unknown. You may be overly ambitious to check up and track down all the illnesses.

Will I pass the checkup without much trouble once again?

I’m already worried.

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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