Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 by

Is it Time to Check Under Your Hood?

Recently, I had my biennial physical check up with my primary care physician. For me, it is like the scheduled maintenance on our vehicles. It something we should look forward to doing every year or as my HMO offers: every other year. The check-up is to ensure our bodies are running smoothly.

As I admitted in previous articles, I reached the Golden anniversary of my birth recently so my physician was very thorough with his check list of my body parts, equipment and the engine (my heart). Everything appears in order and we always have a great conversation about diets, exercise and my job performance as a law enforcement officer. I’ve been very… fortunate to have this physician for close to 20 years.

Part of this year’s conversation was my appointment for a colonoscopy. Everyone chuckles about these exams but it is amazing how many people avoid doing it. Some people have a realistic fear especially victims of sexual assaults and violence. Some people pass this exam off to ignorance or that it is not very important. It is a very important exam as all of the tests: blood, heart rate, stress testing, blood pressure, urine screenings are vital in our stressful and unbalanced lifestyles in our public safety careers.

As law enforcement professionals we are responsible for maintaining our own physical and mental wellbeing. We owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, our co-workers, our peers and the communities that we serve. Please take advantage of these benefits that we have earned by seeking a physical check-up annually and visit your physician especially when you don’t feel right or you are afflicted with a physical ailment.

Ask your doctor about what kind of specialty testing you might need and seek out the kinds of preventative strategies that will keep you performing in peak condition.

Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article entitled: “The Annual Physical Gets a Makeover” where they discuss the pros and cons of what are being called “superphysicals” and specialty tests.

According to The Mayo Clinic the goal of preventive and occupational medicine programs at the Mayo Clinic is to reduce the medical, financial, and occupational burdens of preventable disease and injury through prevention, screening, and education.

They like many medical organizations have created special programs for people in high stress occupations like aviation, aerospace and sometimes law enforcement. Many are learning that we in law enforcement are unique and creating specialty treatment and preventative programs for us.

The Centers for Disease Control has an excellent article on Stress at Work you can find here:
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/99-101/

If you want to dig a little bit deeper, Laurence Miller, Ph.D. has an interesting article entitled “Law Enforcement Traumatic Stress: Clinical Syndromes and Intervention Strategies” on the website of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress website. CLICK HERE to read that article.

On a funny note, I attended a 2 week leadership program back in 2007. Every day a group of us would eat lunch and hang out together. A part of my lunch every day was a small bag of bite size shredded wheat. On the last day of training, a Lieutenant in our group noticed the way I eating during those 2 weeks and he looked at me as he blurted out, “Man….you must have the cleanest colon in town!” It was and it still is a good laugh when I think about it.

Hey Mike, the result of my colonoscopy confirmed it!

REMEMBER: WE ARE THE HONORABLE PROFESSION!

Stay safe and be well!

Sgt. Mark St.Hilaire works a police officer for the past 27 years serving in a Metrowest suburb of Boston, Mass. He is a police peer volunteer for a regional C.I.S.M. Team. He is passionate about public safety wellness and suicide prevention education. You can reach Mark by confidential email at: markfromnatick@gmail.com. Follow him on Linked In or Twitter: @NPD3306.

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