How Monthly Resolutions Might Have Saved My Life

I remember vividly the first time I heard the word Coumadin. I was at Burning Man with my good friend Jeff, who’d had a heart valve replaced. They put you on blood thinners to ensure your heart keeps going, but it makes it so you can’t clot properly if you injure yourself. Jeff had split his finger open while unloading his motorized couch (only at burning man, right?), and we were taking said couch to the med tent to get help. When we arrived, one of the first things Jeff said was “I’m on Coumadin,” and the response was instantaneous. Few things will make a health care professional move more quickly than a bleeding man on blood thinners. That said, I didn’t think I’d be on them till quite a while later in my life.

February was Fearless month, part of which meant I had to face things that made me uncomfortable, like going to the doctor. It had been about a year since my last checkup and I was due. I don’t typically make time for things that are uncomfortable, but it seemed like the perfect example of the excuses I make when I don’t want to do something. I went, I was fine, I went home. On the surface, nothing about that visit was particularly interesting, but I think one of the big points to make is that by going to the doctor when you don’t have to, you increase your likelihood to go when you do.

As a man, I know I’m susceptible to the “not going to the doctor” thing. I tend to think I’m fine unless my bones are poking out of my skin or I’ve lost more than one of my senses. When Sunday night rolled around and I had sharp muscle pains in my calf, I assumed I needed to stretch more, maybe even needed a deep tissue massage. When it was twice as bad the next day, I figured, rub a little dirt on it, go to crossfit, stop worrying so much. Be happy it’s not both your knees. When it was twice as bad the next day, I went to the doctor. Turns out it was for good reason.

My Doctor ordered an ultrasound as a precaution. Turns out that I have deep venous thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots in my leg. This is a potentially fatal thing and if I hadn’t gone to the doctor, I could have suffered a pulmonary embolism, something fairly uncommon for a 31 year old programmer who does crossfit to have. What made me go to the doctor? I can’t say for sure, but I’ve always had the belief that if something doesn’t go away after a week or gets twice as bad as it was, you go to the doctor. Even when that happens, sometimes, I still find reasons not to go. Monthly resolutions are an excellent way to remind myself of the things I should do in my life and to help me find the drive and time to do them.