Apart from an unfortunate incident with a laundry basket which resulted in a broken finger (I knew laundry was dangerous) I haven’t needed medical attention very often over the years, and happily for me, I’m rarely at the GP.
However the downside of this is that there’s no regular general check-up, not to mind anything more thorough, like a health screening. I had one full health screening about six years ago – because a significant portion of the cost was covered by my work health insurance. But now that I’m self-employed and in charge of the kids, I’m less likely than ever to book myself in for a check-up.
And interestingly, it seems many women are in a similar situation – at least according to Charter Medical who have seen twice as many men come for full health checks than women. They told me they assume it’s because women tend to put themselves last after family and work, and that indeed could be the case. And I admit, if I hadn’t been offered the chance to review their health screening, I probably wouldn’t have thought to book one either.
So here’s how my health screening went, and if you comment below, you will be in with a chance to win a health screening for yourself, worth €495!
There will be blood (but it’s quick and painless)
My appointment was scheduled for 9am on a Tuesday morning in November – I didn’t think this through very well, and had booked for the day after Halloween. And you have to fast for 12 hours beforehand. So if you win the free screening, or book one using the discount for Office Mum readers, be warned – don’t book it for the day after Halloween. Or any occasion on which you normally eats lots of chocolate and perhaps have a glass of wine because it’s also a bank holiday. Just saying.
Charter Medical is in Smithfield – a short Luas journey from the city centre, and an even shorter walk to the clinic. I’ve never been to Smithfield before and it was a beautiful crisp sunny morning, so the morning started well before I got to Charter Medical at all. After booking in, I waited a few minutes (with my Kindle – bliss!) before being called in to have height, weight, and blood pressure taken, and an ECG. This last one was new to me, and I felt like I was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but in a good way. I also had blood taken (quick and painless) and then it was back out to the waiting room, before being taken to another room for a breathing test.
The Eggs Benedict bit
Then something lovely happened. The receptionist came over with a voucher for breakfast and coffee in a local café – because fasting people can’t concentrate properly when they’re chatting to the doctor. This was unexpected and very welcome. Ten minutes later, I wasn’t thinking about blood tests or breathing tests or any kind of health screen – I just knew that reading my book and eating Eggs Benedict was a good result for a Tuesday morning.
I’d been given a time to return to the clinic, and next stop was to see Dr Juliet Bressan for the physical exam and the chat about everything and anything.
Down to the detail
I’d been asked to fill out a questionnaire in advance, and we chatted through that. We talked about exercise and nutrition – she was happy that I have a pretty healthy lifestyle. And that’s what I like about health screenings – they’re very realistic. Nobody tells you that you can’t have a glass of wine or that third coffee, and while regular exercise is important, it’s also clear that sometimes that exercise comes in the form of the school run.
She asked about my family medical history, and I explained that as my mum passed away twenty years ago, I don’t know a lot about it. My mum was just nine years older than I am now when she died, and it’s something I’m conscious of. Not in any kind of rational way, because of course it’s not rational, but just gets me thinking from time to time about illnesses that might be lurking but not visible.
Juliet understood my concerns and gave me an answer that made a lot of sense to me. She said that while of course nothing is ever really predictable, lifestyle plays a huge part. If you eat well, exercise, don’t drink too much and don’t smoke, you give yourself the best chance of staying healthy and avoiding chronic disease.
I have a vague memory of a text from my aunt some years ago, saying to watch out for Osteoporosis, and I mentioned this to Juliet. She sent me for a DEXA bone scan then, which took place on a different floor and involved a short wait, but once that was done, I was free to go.
The whole thing took about two and a half hours, not including the extra scan, but the reassurance I felt walking back out into the sun was worth every minute. It’s really quite unusual for any of us to have a whole morning that’s just focused on ourselves, and in particular on our health, and it felt good.
My results arrived within two weeks, and it was all good – all inside the lines. The only blip was the bone scan – a mini blip at that. So I now know I have some evidence of Osteopenia, which is a medical condition in which the protein and mineral content of bone tissue is reduced, but less severely than in Osteoporosis. The recommendation is to take vitamin D supplements, and to eat four portions of calcium per day or take a calcium supplement too. I’m thinking I need to up my night-time cheese habit from three to seven nights a week.
I highly recommend the whole experience, and it’s wonderful to have peace of mind. Admittedly, it’s not cheap, but there’s a special discount for Office Mum readers available until the end of December – the screening that usually costs €495 is available for €350. If you’re interested, just click into ChaterMedical.ie and fill out a contact form, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone + 353 1 657 9000 and mention Office Mum when you’re inquiring.
**Competition closed! Winner is Eileen Kane – thanks all for entering.**
I also have one Women’s Executive Health Screen to give away!
To be in with a chance to win, just comment below, or comment on Facebook, or share this post on Twitter. And if you’re on Facebook, Charter Medical would love you to Like their Facebook page and I’ve love a Like on my page too! I’ll draw one winner on Tuesday December 6th – good luck and good health!
Charter Medical provided me with a complimentary health screen for the purpose of this review, but this isn’t a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.