Let’s face it: It’s been an incredibly difficult year and a half for all of us. Whether we are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic by dipping our toes gently in the water or by diving headstrong into a pool, it makes sense to re-evaluate where we are in terms of our health.
Gentlemen, this means it is time to face up to the fact that you may have missed your physical exam last year, put off your colonoscopy, or might still be wavering on whether you should receive a COVID vaccine. Now is the time to take four important steps to regain your health.
1. Roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.
We are making strong headway in our state, with 4.55 million New Jerseyans fully vaccinated, but we need you to boost our herd immunity and protect yourself and your loved ones. Medical records show that as of June 2021 almost all patients who are hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated. The virus attacks many systems in your body, including your cardiovascular system. Research shows it can affect blood vessels in your genitourinary system, leading to erectile dysfunction.
Let's bust some myths:
- The vaccine does not cause sterility.
- A strong immune system will not protect you.
- Taking vitamin C or mega-doses of other vitamins or supplements will not help you fend off the virus.
- Although many Blacks and people of color are understandably wary of the medical establishment due to a terrible history of mistreatment and neglect, do not fear the COVID vaccine. It is not experimental. It has been proven safe and effective.
There is no cost to you to receive the vaccine. For more information about getting a vaccine at Holy Name or one of our community sites: holyname.org/covid19/VaccineRegistration.
2. See your primary care provider for a yearly physical exam.
Bring a list of questions and concerns to discuss with your doctor or nurse practitioner. You will be weighed; your heart, lungs, and blood pressure checked; and your urine examined. Your provider will recommend blood tests for cholesterol, kidney and liver functioning, and your glucose level to check for metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Ask about a timetable for preventive screenings: colonoscopy, PSA test, full-body skin check, eye exam, and others, if needed.
3. Don't forget your mental health.
We have all struggled to some degree with anxiety, depression, and even grief at losing loved ones or our jobs, or missing out on major life events and favorite activities. Give yourself time to grieve in whatever way works best for you. Connect with friends and family who are vaccinated and continue hygienic practices, such as hand-washing. Carve out a little time for exercise, even if it’s only 20 minutes a day at home or by taking a walk around your neighborhood.
4. Get out and enjoy the sun and fresh air.
Try a new activity, take swimming lessons, fish in a cool stream, or read a book in a quiet park. Remember to use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30-50, wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV-protection sunglasses, and stay out of direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. You can suffer sunburn, no matter what your skin tone.
Most of all, enjoy your summer! You deserve it!
Robert O.A. Green, MD, is a primary care provider and is board-certified in family medicine. He specializes in caring for people from adolescence through adulthood at his office in Rutherford. Dr. Green is currently offering in-person and telemedicine appointments and can be reached at 201-537-0377 or HolyNameMedicalPartners.org.