Frank Henrichon (left), of Ware shares his story about how a visit to his physician, Dr. Mohammed Gul (center), changed his life. Dr. Roger Lafleur (right)of the BMLH Emergency Department, urges men to seek treatment for problems before they end up in the emergency room.
Whether a dad, husband, brother, uncle, son or friend, we all have, or had, at least one of them in our lives. They are protectors, providers, consolers, teachers, and friends. Take the opportunity in June to speak to the important man in your life about his health and ask him to see a doctor on an annual basis
Frank Henrichon felt unusually tired. A hard working father of three grown children and a former volunteer fire fighter, Henrichon knew something was wrong, so reluctantly he made an appointment to see Dr. Muhammad Gul, at Baystate Medical Practices – Quabbin Adult Medicine.
"I was like most 50 year old guys I know,” said Henrichon. "We just don't make time to see a doctor. I personally had avoided a doctor because I was afraid. “Yes,” said Henrichon, “I was afraid that someone would tell me that I had something terrible, or maybe even cancer.”
During his visit, Dr. Gul told him that he had developed diabetes. Instead of being devastated, with Dr. Gul’s help, Henrichon took his diabetes as an opportunity to make some changes in his life. “The first step was to change my diet,” said Henrichon. “I now eat healthier, only have pasta and beer on special occasions, and I walk regularly with my daughter, Linda. Now, I even participate in health screenings offered at work, something I use to avoid.”
Since then, the Ware resident, who works at Lowe’s, sees Dr. Gul his primary care physician, regularly. “He has become my partner in health, my trusted friend, and the best part, I’m not staying awake at night living in fear about my health any more,” said Henrichon.
So, why is it that not going to see a doctor regularly is more common for men than women?
“It's not uncommon to hear men say they haven't been to a physician since they were children,” said Dr. Muhammad Gul, medical director of BMP Quabbin Adult Medicine. "In the back of their heads they think: nothing good comes from seeing a doctor; you never walk out of seeing a doctor feeling better than you did when you walked in. But that isn’t true, we want men to understand that even the smallest changes, like applying sunscreen or taking a walk around the block every day, can help put you on the path to a longer, healthier life,” notes Dr. Gul.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control show men are 50% less likely to seek preventative health care than women. And, because they put off going to the doctor, when they do get diagnosed, their diseases tend to be more advanced and more expensive to treat.
“Many men view going to the doctor as a sign of weakness,” said Dr. Gul. “However, nothing could be further from the truth. Men can set a healthy example for their families by having annual checkups, which can be proof of the commitment they have for their loved ones, to remain in good health for as long as possible.”
According to Dr. Roger Lafleur, Emergency Department physician at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, “One of the biggest obstacles to improving the health of men is men themselves. We want men to understand that ignoring minor issues can lead to major problems that will often land them in the Emergency Room.
“Many men think they are in good health, but feeling good doesn't always mean you're fine,” said Dr. Lafleur. “For instance, someone who dodges doctor visits might not know whether their cholesterol or blood pressure is too high. Those problems don't have obvious symptoms, and can lead to serious illness.”
“Not only does poor health significantly decrease the quality of a man’s life, it takes a heavy toll on their spouses. We know through studies that fifty percent of widowed elderly women living in poverty today were not poor before their husbands died. Many men are unaware that simple screening tests and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve their quality of life, and the lives of the people they love," says Lafleur.
Establishing healthy habits, men can improve their overall health and ensure they live longer, safer, and healthier lives:
- Learn Your Family Health History:Knowing history can determine risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer.
- Get Check-Ups:know and understand your numbers:Keep track of blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure results.
- Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Fasten seat belts, see that kids ride in proper restraints, drive defensively, and obey the law.
- Brush and floss to prevent dental disease.
- Manage stress. If you feel constantly on edge or under assault, your lifestyle habits may suffer. Be sure to balance the stress of personal and professional obligations with activities you enjoy. Also, make sure you get enough sleep.
Theproviders at Baystate Medical Practices – Quabbin Adult Medicine, include Dr. Muhammad Gul, Dr. Ronald Beauzile, and Dr. Anuja Garg, and Nurse Practitioners, Suzanne Dabakis Choquette, and Rosario Nelson, The practice is presently accepting new patients, and is located at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware at 413-967-2343 and at 95 Sargent Street in Belchertown at 413-323-7212