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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Being An Ostrich Can Be Hazardous To Your Health


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I am due for a second colonoscopy, as my first one was done nearly a decade ago. It is not the most pleasant medical procedure – but neither is childbirth – but at the end of the day, it is worth it. I remember having to refrain from eating solid food for about 30 hours, and gulping down what seemed like gallons of an odious smelling liquid that a thirsty dog would run from.

When I was asked by the nurse taking my medical history why I was getting a colonoscopy, I told her that this was just a screening (like a first mammogram) as I had reached the age when it was considered prudent to get one. Now I had peace of mind – at least in that department – for a decade. The patient next to me, however, was there because she was experiencing worrisome symptoms. Like many people, she opted for a medical examination when she was already not well. Another patient was told his test showed he had polyps – a benign growth that could mutate into colon cancer. His decision to have a screening probably saved his life.

So now it is time to book another one. Any hesitation to do so was erased by the passing not so long ago of a childhood classmate after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.

When a shidduch is being considered, there are so many questions posed by both sides regarding support and other finances. I strongly suggest that the issue of medical insurance – and life insurance – be broached. Both are necessary. What good is yichus, good looks, or moods if there is even a slight possibility that a lack of health care can take a spouse away prematurely, leaving emotionally and financially distressed survivors?

It is crucial that young, old and in-between have health insurance so that they can follow Hashem’s commandment to preserve their lives. Health care is a must, not a luxury. Borrow, beg, or give up your second car and walk if you have to, but make medical coverage your number one priority. And when there is coverage, be scrupulous about getting your annual checkups and screenings.

If you suspect a problem, if you are experiencing atypical symptoms don’t be an ostrich. If the problem persists, get it checked out. There is no need to panic at every little bump, lump or ache. But if it feels different than normal or lasts longer than normal, don’t hide your head in the sand.

As I have mentioned before, I have had thyroid cancer twice –nine years apart. I could have assumed I was cured, for I had reached that “5 year” milestone – and then some.

I could have forgone for my blood workups and scans – with their costly and inconvenient pre and post preparations, which means two weeks of not eating foods that could contain salt – including all dairy products, fish, anything with egg yolk in it (most breads and some pastas) as well as processed foods – and being radioactive and avoiding pregnant women and children for a few days. In our community that means becoming a hermit.

But had I done so I would have been wrong – possibly dead wrong! It is incumbent on you to do your hishtadlut – the rest is up to Hashem.

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