The Down Side Of A Tough Poker Face


MSgt. Jamal Barrow
MSgt. Jamal Barrow

Jim had the reputation as the greatest spades player in the greater Savannah Metropolitan area. Known as a player who knew how to bluff the completion, Jim had developed a knack for always coming out on top no matter the kind of hand he was dealt. . Besides playing spades, he also loved to tinker with things around the house

Jim was a middle aged man that had just retired from the local paper mill. Jim’s children loved him, his wife adored him, his friends, which were many, held him in high regard.

Many said that Jim was also the picture of health, but Jim knew different. Jim never went for yearly medical exams; he argued he did not need to. Jim later developed a nagging pain in the middle of his stomach, he shrugged it off as indigestion; nothing a little over the counter antacid could not fix, he would say. The pain worsened, so much so that Jim’s wife noticed the grimace on his face when the pain hit. His wife pleaded with him to go to the doctor, but Jim would never head the advice. Soon the pain became too unbearable to take. Jim was rushed to the emergency room, examined, and was found to have liver cancer.

The news was delivered to Jim and his family that he had only five months to live, but the stages of the cancer were too advanced so he died in three. The recurring theme at Jim’s funeral was that he was simply gone too soon. Jim, the gentleman that was full of life and loved of many, was gone too soon.

The aforementioned story is fiction, but the situation of the story is true. Many men, like Jim, forgo routine visits to the doctor. In fact, due to the reluctance of men to visit their healthcare provider, the life expectancy of men has gone down since the 1900s. The life expectancy of men is nearly six years less than women. The reasons why men do not visit the doctor are many, but here are just a few: • Men believe they do not have the time to visit the doctor. • Men believe that they can soldier through an ailment. • Some men simply do not have insurance. • Men believe that there is nothing really wrong with them. • Men fear the “probe” that comes as a result of some medical procedures. There are many more excuses on why men do not visit the doctor, and they are just that, excuses. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, 200,070 men died from avoidable deaths. The CDC also says that the avoidable deaths among African American men were nearly twice that of whites. The diseases that account for avoidable deaths are high blood pressure, heart disease, various types of cancers to include prostate cancer. The CDC research does give a silver lining; avoidable deaths have declined in recent years.

The good news is that men do not have to add to the statistic. Men can put aside their excuses and begin to make an investment in their health. Simple strategies like eating well, being active, controlling stress, ceasing smoking, and participating in a healthcare plan is a great start. That pain you feel in your chest, go get checked. That throbbing in your head, go get checked. That dizziness that you experience occasionally, go get checked. That numbness in your left arm, GO GET CHECKED! You owe it to yourself and the people that love you to go get checked.

Jim had so much to do and accomplish. Jim left behind a beautiful wife and three darling children. When you went into Jim’s garage you could see the classic 1965 Ford Mustang that he was in the process of restoring. The hood of the Mustang propped open with a broom handle, the wrenches laid scattered across the floor. He could have been a blessing to many, but he was simply gone too soon. Jim was gone at 46 years of age. Please do not let the same be said of you.


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