"In a Sense It's the Manliest Thing You Can Do..." and It Could Save Your Life
Comic by Scott Meyer of Basic Instructions. Cached as a bandwidth-conserving courtesy.
Interesting perspective. Funny, accurate, and... kind of important.
One of the reason us men have shorter lifespans on average than women is that we have a documented tendency to avoid medical care. When I was really getting into men's consciousness in the early 1980s I remember reading that in Herb Goldberg's classic The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege and... not really registering it. Because, I mean, when we got hurt or sick my (male) friends would joke "aah, I took an asprin yesterday" while at least trying to tough it out.
Then in 1990 the Muppet guy Jim Henson died. Hard. What had started out as flu-like symptoms progressed for almost two weeks. Early on he had seen a doctor, who'd suggested... asprin!
Then according to Henson's Wikipedia, which confirms my own recollection, "At 2 am on May 15, Henson was having trouble breathing and began coughing up blood. He suggested to his wife that he might be dying, but did not want to bother going to the hospital."
Coughing. Up. Blood.
A couple hours later he agreed to go to the hospital. He was able to walk in on his own, but turns out that by that time something like five of his major organs had already failed! He'd developed sepsis from a strep infection.
Suddenly Goldberg's statistics stopped being so abstract. Suddenly it made sense why men so often die sooner than otherwise comprable women: we kill ourselves by negligent homicide!
That could have been me!
After reading that I resolved to stop doing that "I had an asprin yesterday" crap. And started going to the doctor when it looked like I might need to go to the doctor. And doing some (but probably not all) of the other stuff doctors recommend for maintaining your health.
Eating right, getting a little exercise, getting plenty of rest, develop active hobbies. Regular stuff, none of it very hard.
I'm pushing 60 and I gotta say I'm in way better shape than I imagined I'd be.
And waaaaay better shape than most of my "I took an aspirin" buddies from decades ago.
Part of why I'm healthy? Heck, possibly part of why I'm alive?
I subjected myself to the humiliation of a colonoscopy when I was 42.
They found polyps.
The kind that turn into cancer 15-20 years after they develop.
The kind that don't cause cancer if they're removed 15-20 years before they become cancerous.
That was more than 15 years ago.
I get prostate exams too.
No, I don't enjoy those either.
But I'm going to be dancing at my son and daughter's weddings.
Pretty much no matter how long they wait to get married.
Prostates go bad in a number of ways. An annual rectal exam is an unfortunate, briefly uncomfortable, but very reliable way to catch problems before they catch up to you.
Getting a prostate exam and checking yourself for testicular cancer are two of the most literally manly things you can do. Not just because those things are unique to us XY-chromosome bearers. And not even because it's manly to face the uncomfortable without flinching. But because by being manly we can defy the bullshit man-killing pressure to be masculine. Masculinity says "take an asprin and die of sepsis 10 days later." Masculinity says die before women do.
Screw that. Be bad. Get it done.