This conversation we're having is a little more serious than most others. Hang with me, there's a lighter side, too.

A lot of men are, shall I say, hesitant to do something that should only be thought of as good for them. I'm talking about going to the doctor. Just the thought of making, much less keeping, a doctor's appointment sends chills through a large percentage of men.

Yes, otherwise intelligent, hard working, "normal" males often cut and run at the thought of visiting a physician for even the simplest examination. And now there is evidence to back up what most married women have known about their spouses for years.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that "in many significant ways women's care differs from men's, although this difference decreased with age." The reports went on to say "even excluding pregnancy-related visits, women were 33 percent more likely than men to visit a doctor ... although this difference decreases with age."

Personally, I think men don't go to the doctor because they are afraid of getting bad news. According to findings from the MD Anderson Clinical Cancer Prevention Department's Dr. Elise Cook, "many men don't get check-ups or look into cancer symptoms because their health isn't something they talk about."

Cook goes on to say, "It's often up to women to make sure the men in their lives get the preventive care and cancer screening tests they need to stay healthy."

Men, are you paying attention?

Women, are you ready to help out the men in your life?

First, be encouraging. MD Anderson staff members suggest giving him a gentle nudge in the form of a postcard from the wife and other family members writing brief notes about why the man's health is important to them. This is an excellent time to include a reminder of an upcoming appointment with his doctor.

Show him that going to the doctor is no big deal by scheduling exams for yourself. You can invite him to join you as a way of making him more comfortable with the idea of being in a medical setting.

Tell him about doctors your family and friends see and why they think he would be comfortable with that physician. Ask any medical professionals you know for referrals. Tell him not to believe the medical horror stories he's heard about or read online.

I know firsthand about men being reluctant to visit certain specialists. I have terrible "white coat syndrome." Even though my rational mind knows I'm seeing a doctor for all the right reasons, my subconscious mind takes over and up goes my blood pressure and other vital signs. 

Recently I had a colonoscopy. Now there's something you shouldn't be upset about having. I know, there area lot of people who complain that they can't stand all you have to go through to give yourself a thorough colon cleansing the day before your doctor gives you the "old look-see." But most of the time, depending on your age, your friendly gastroenterologist tells you everything looks good, and that he'll see you back in 10 years!

I'm speaking from experience. Even with those once-in-a-decade visits I managed to delay mine for nearly a year. But now, with that visit behind me, I can mark another medical procedure off my list and get prepared for others remaining on my list for 2019.

I must share something with you regarding my elder son, Brock, who is an orthopedic surgeon in Montgomery specializing in hip and knee replacement surgery. Before and during the time he was growing up, I was anchoring the news on WSFA-TV. Which meant he was known as Bob Howell's little boy.

Now that he's all grown up, with a family of his own, and I have been retired from the anchor desk for seven years, the roles are reversed. I'm now known as Dr. Brock Howell's father, that old guy who used to work on the news.

Just about everybody I came in contact with during my colonoscopy procedure made the relationship connection because of Brock. Several of them commented on how young he looked. After hearing that for the third or fourth time, I told one nurse who was going on about his youthful appearance that I didn't know what all the fuss was about. After all, he had just gotten his driver's license two years ago! (You know that's not true, don't you?)

And finally, whatever the case, men, don't let your masculine or mystical side overrule your practical side. If you get less-than-good news, going to the doctor will have given you more precious time to deal with your illness that you would lose if you hadn't made that appointment and kept it.

Do yourself, your wife and family a favor — man up, and see your doctor.

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