At the start of the pandemic, it was the smart move: Postpone everything!
We put off all appointments from haircuts to medical checkups, thinking it would just be for just a few weeks.
Well, here we are, more than 10 months later, and I’m practically an expert at cutting my own hair. In other news, I’ve also learned to avoid mirrors.
But while we can get by without professional haircuts, going without medical care is another story. Many people are now paying the piper for long-delayed doctor’s appointments that were never rescheduled.
And some are suffering from serious and even potentially deadly health problems as a result.
So today, let’s take a look at what you can safely skip even nearly a year into COVID-19 shutdowns. And more importantly, when you should NEVER delay seeing your doctor.
The doctor’s appointment you should NEVER skip
New research finds that 70 percent of Americans are nervous about seeing a doctor when there are virus outbreaks.
More than HALF say they’d hesitate to go to the hospital even for an emergency. Most have also canceled medical appointments. Plus, half say they haven’t rescheduled them and don’t intend to.
And who can blame them? It’s a scary time to go out anywhere right now. And I’ve been putting off minor and routine stuff myself.
Most experts agree routine physicals, non-emergent dental visits such as cleanings, and some routine cancer screenings can typically be delayed for a while.
But there’s only so much you can postpone (and even then, only for so long). Your risks rise with time. If you’re experiencing ANY symptoms, you need to seek out medical advice.
The risks of not getting help when you need it can be a whole lot worse than the chance of catching the COVID-19 infection. That’s ESPECIALLY true when it comes to the “big stuff” like your heart.
The proof is in the numbers. For example, when the pandemic struck New York, heart disease deaths jumped by 139 percent, and deaths from high blood pressure skyrocketed by 164 percent, according to a recent study.
A separate study out of Detroit finds that 911 calls for cardiac arrest QUADRUPLED at one point in the pandemic, potentially because too many people put off the early warning signs of a heart problem.
And a nationwide analysis found that in the weeks after the pandemic first hit in mid-March, deaths from heart attack jumped by 11 percent and from high blood pressure by 17 percent compared to the same period in 2019.
In other words, ignoring your heart health during this pandemic can be deadly.
Safely seeing your doctor during the pandemic
Pandemic stress no doubt contributed to these tragedies. But in some cases, fear likely drove folks to ignore early warning signs. And they didn’t get help until it was too late.
In other words, skip the hair cut, but DON’T skip the doctor’s visit. Or you could pay the ultimate price.
Instead of canceling and postponing everything, talk to your doctor’s office about what care is necessary and what you can skip for now. You also may be able to arrange telephone or video chat appointments for less urgent but still important issues.
If you have to go in to see your doctor in person, don’t panic. Just follow the pandemic protocols you already know by heart.
- wear a mask
- socially distance in public spaces like the waiting room
- use your hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands
Clinics, doctor’s offices, and hospitals are taking strong precautions to keep people safe right now. Waiting rooms are safely distanced, cleaning protocols have been stepped up, and they will get you into an appointment room as quickly as possible.
Some doctor’s offices will even allow you to wait in your car for a call when they’re ready to see you. So while you shouldn’t wander in just to read the magazines in the waiting room, don’t hesitate to seek help. And if you even suspect you could be having trouble with your heart or any other major health issues, go straight to the ER.
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