Movember - Casting a Line for Men's Health
A Fishing Story
Time flies, and the month of Movember is already halfway over. As my mustache begins to grow, so does my understanding of why it is important for physicians to participate in this global men's health campaign. But before all of that, a quick fish story...
The Woolly Bugger
One of the many great things about living in Western Michigan, USA, is the fishing. Our lakes and streams are loaded with a wide variety of freshwater fish including salmon and trout. So a few years ago, I decided to learn how to fly fish.
I quickly found fly fishing to be a beautiful and elegant sport. A "fly" is simply a hand-tied imitation of a fish's natural food source. One of the first ties that I was introduced to was the woolly bugger. Depending upon how it is fished, this fly can be used to resemble or imitate a nymph, drowning insect, baitfish, crayfish, shrimp or crab.
Woolly bugger in, and fly rod in hand, it's then a matter of casting, retrieving, and waiting for a fish to show interest and strike.
What happens next is difficult to explain. When the hook is set, the fisherman and the fish become engaged in a conversation by way of the fly line. The fish typically first runs downstream. Then jumps, turns, and tries to find cover, all the while attempting to break the line. Meanwhile, the fisherman keeps steady pressure on the line, either letting it out or reeling it in line, depending upon the actions of the fish.
Sometimes the fisherman is able to land the fish. Other times, the fish escapes. Either way, the experience is not soon forgotten by either the fish or the fisherman.
Fishing to Improve Men's Health
This Movember, I have come to realize, I am fishing for men to take better care of themselves. Toward that end, this ridiculous mustache has become my bait and hook. When patients see my mustache, it breaks the ice.
Suddenly, it's not about me being a doctor, it's about the mustache. The mustache initiates a conversation that might include a Movember specific topic, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's mental health. Alternatively, the conversation might center around threats to a patient's long term health, such as untreated obesity, hypertension, diabetes, or sleep apnea.
Sometimes, I am able to reel patients in with these conversations, and they choose to make a positive lifestyle change, or seek additional medical treatment. Other times, patients "get away." Either way, I believe these conversations leave a lasting impression with the patient.
Fishing with Friends
Fly fishing and Movember have one more thing in common. They are more fun when you participate with others. That's why this year I've gone "North of the Border" and joined my friend, Dr. Rajiv Singel's International Toronto East General Hospital Movember Team. If you haven't yet signed up for Movember, or joined a team already, you are welcome to join us.
Signing up is easy. However, if you join our team you will need the post code for Toronto, Canada, which is M4C 5T2.
Mo season runs thru the end of November. However, the conversations it helps facilitate, and the changes it can make in a man's health, can continue throughout the year.
Guest post by Dr. Brian Stork. Dr. Stork is a urologist from the U.S. in private practice at West Shore Urology, in Muskegon, Michigan. Dr. Stork has a passion for patient education, healthcare technology and healthcare social media. You can read more from Dr. Stork on his blog, and follow him at @storkbrian on Twitter and Google+ .