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Phillips: What you dont know
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I have to admit, in a great many ways, I am a typical man. There can be no doubt that men and women think, feel and act differently in many, or most situations. That’s not wrong; it’s just the way we’re made.

One such subject is our health. Most men are fine as long as we feel fine. That’s how I am. I hate pain and I hate sickness, but if I can’t feel it, it doesn’t exist and I’m just fine. That kind of thinking is all too often flawed, and I’m finally ready to admit it. This column is from a man’s point of view and is aimed primarily at men, but please ladies, read on and share this with the men in your life. Maybe together we can make a difference.

The whole “I feel fine, so I am fine” mindset has recently been disproven for me. I like to keep my private matters private, so I generally do, but I hope this confession will help someone else. I have Type-2 Diabetes, and have for many years. That’s due in part to heredity. My father had it. Now my son has it. I manage to keep my blood sugar levels under reasonable control most of the time, but that takes us back to the mistaken attitude of if I feel OK, I must be OK.

Diabetes is very sneaky. It, over time, does a lot of damage to the body, but it generally happens very gradually and when it is under reasonable control it is rare to feel the effects of high or low blood sugar levels. I have never been insulin dependent, thank goodness, but I take a variety of medications to help keep my blood sugar level steady, plus I deal with high blood pressure and high cholesterol so I have pills for those conditions, too.

Back to my main point, if I miss a day of my medications now and then, I don’t feel any different. So, no problem, right? Wrong.

One of the many body parts diabetes affects is the kidneys. I recently learned my kidney function has been compromised, but as I write this my doctors, including a kidney specialist, have not pinpointed an exact cause. It very likely is the diabetes, but blood pressure medication or other factors may have played a part.

Again, it was not pain or any other symptom that alerted my medical professionals to my kidney distress. It was a routine blood test they do every three months which showed raised components in my blood indicating something was not working right. My primary care physician gave me a concerned phone call and wanted to put me in the hospital that day. My first word? No. 

I felt fine. I had too much work to do. I have health insurance, but even so, my portion of the bills would still be high. I said no. I visited the doctor that day and convinced her to try other avenues. She did, and also connected me with the specialist, who also said being hospitalized would be the best thing. I still said no. He gave me some new medications that made a minor difference, but not enough. He said if things didn’t greatly improve I was a prime candidate for routine dialysis, which means having a machine do the job kidneys normally do in filtering my blood. That got my attention. 

So, I finally gave in to the professional opinions and checked into a hospital. In fact, I am writing this on my laptop in my hospital room that has now been my home for six days. I still feel fine and trust me, this is not a vacation. But, I appear to be improving. I had a biopsy done on my kidneys a few days ago and I’m still waiting for the results. In case you don’t know, the biopsy involved probing a needle into my kidneys and taking a sample of the tissue to be examined by another specialist looking for damage. The dialysis decision hinges on the results.

The moral of this story is simple -- get regular checkups, even if you “feel fine.” I would have never known I have a problem if not for a routine blood test that showed something wasn’t right.

What you don’t know won’t hurt you? Don’t believe that for a second. It could kill you.