Three years ago I had a cancer scare. I had just passed the 30 year mark and my PCP (Primary Care Physician) felt a lump in my neck. As it turns out thyroid nodules are very common especially in women and mine after further testing turned out to be cancer free and perfectly healthy. What I learned from this experience is the value in an organized approach to monitoring your health.
I now schedule all of my wellness visits for the year in December, for January. I do my first dental cleaning in January, get a physical with bloodwork, have a full skin cancer check (I live in Florida where this is vital but I highly recommend this for all people), and go to the ‘lady doctor’. Why? Because life moves fast. Time flies whether you’re having fun or barely surviving the day-to-day and before you know it you realize it’s been 2 years since your teeth have been cleaned and you’re out of all your Rx’s without an appointment on the books.
I picked January because it made the most since with the dates of my health insurance. My healthcare year runs January 1st to December 31st as yours likely does as well. If you’re on an odd schedule (say, July to July) then perhaps you should make July 1 your ‘new year’. Regardless of the month you choose I highly recommend this approach. Being organized arguably makes all areas of life easier but here’s a few reasons this works for health:
- It gets done. Let’s just be wholly honest with ourselves. Even with the best of intentions much of what we plan to get done in a year quite simply doesn’t get done or gets done months after we intended. January (or your choice of ‘new years’) is an easy way to make sure this doesn’t happen.
- It simplies your answer to ‘when was the last time you…’. Anyone else struggle when you get a new doctor or dentist (and if you’ve changed jobs and/or insurances a few times then you’ve had this convo more than once) when they ask when your last cleaning, pap, bloodwork, physical, etc was? Well, not anymore. I’m headed to a new PCP (new insurance, again) in July to establish and I can say easily that everything was done in January. This is unbelievably satisfying. No searching my calendar or my receipts or digging through my HSA account to check – it got done in January.
- If you have follow-up appoints you can schedule them early in the year and you won’t be near any insurance deadlines. When I go to my dentist in January I go ahead and book for July. I’m never scrambling for an appointment and I’m never late. If only I were quite this disciplined with oil changes. I”m never cutting it close on getting appointments during the same insurance year or scrambling for that last minute appointment when I’m already overdue.
These are all brain space savers and I appreciate those more than the next person but the truth is, being organized with your health is your best chance of catching any issues early. While I’m eternally grateful my nodule wasn’t cancer and that it steered me towards discovering how to live a less toxic (aka fragrant) lifestyle IF I had cancer catching it early would have given me the best chance at beating it and with less treatment.
Early detection saves lives. The quicker you catch an issue, the better your chances are of beating whatever comes your way and to me that is the ultimate reason to be organized with your health. Whatever your season of life there are people who are counting on you to take care of yourself and this is not something that you want to neglect. So simplify the process and you’ll have less to worry about and even better: less to remember!