For the month of November, we’re putting the spotlight on men’s health by celebrating and bringing awareness to the men we love here at kinected & beyond. Check out our Movember exercise of the month – just for you guys out there, and don’t miss our masterclass for The Male Client, proceeds of which go to the Movember Foundation.
An advocate for men’s health and our main man at Kinected, studio director Matt McCulloch tells us about his wake-up call on the journey to better awareness and action for his own health:
I see what I do for a living as pretty simple. Don’t get me wrong, it can get complicated when clients have significant injuries. But my main job is to motivate people to feel better. Everyday I use similar phrases to instill motivation:
“Focus on your health.”
“Increase your awareness.”
“Don’t take your health for granted.”
“Investing in your health can improve your quality of life.”
I use these simple phrases often and believe them fully. I hope they light a fire and make a difference in an individual’s life, or even better, create a ripple effect that positively impacts their friends and family.
Recently, however, I found myself in an ironic situation in which I had not been heeding my own straightforward advice. Several years ago I began having respiratory issues with prolonged colds that turned into never-ending coughs. I would find myself not only struggling to breathe but so fatigued that I could barely stay awake to play with my two boys. At times, I was unable to finish a sentence without a disturbingly long coughing fit. Even subway riders politely inched away from me in fear of catching “whatever” it was I had. Looking back, I recalled having similar episodes when I was young, too, but I was never diagnosed with any condition that deserved treatment. To add to the mix, a few years back during a routine physical exam (to which my family not-so-gently nudged me) , I found out that I had a low platelet count. “What? Me?” I questioned in disbelief to myself and the doctor. In general, I think of myself as a humble guy but somehow this hit my ego in an odd way. I ended up with a diagnosis of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an auto-immune disease in which your body attacks its own platelets resulting in a chronically low platelet count. My platelets held their own, thankfully, and my form of the condition did not become too severe. I tried to shrug it off but it was still there—a clear sign that my health needed more attention.
Life has a funny way of distracting you and sending messages at the same time. At about the same time as my own respiratory issues developed, my oldest son began suffering from Reactive Airway Disease (asthma triggered by colds) when he was just under one year old. The ER visits were numerous and stressful; although my own health issues persisted, I focused my attention on my family and continued to ignore my own health. Until one day, my wife (my life partner, business partner and a trained physician to boot) looked at me and said something to the effect of: “You look awful. You have to take better care of yourself. Not only for you—but for the example you set for your clients, staff, and family.” This hit home, the mirror was turned around on me and what I saw was not pretty. In my efforts to support the ones closest to me, I was, in fact being selfish by denying my own health.
My dad – my hero and role model – died suddenly 18 years ago at a relatively early age due to cardiovascular disease. Like many men, our fathers seem bulletproof and impervious to pain and injury. Little did I know that behind that armor was a man living in denial of the hard facts of his health. His life was cut short due to his lack of attention to his health and himself.
With the message finally resonating loud and clear, I made an appointment with a pulmonologist who had definitely dealt with my ‘mankind’ before in the past. You know the kind I mean: men in denial…that ‘mankind.’ I proudly gave her my full athletic and occupational resume and then struggled to blow into a tube that measured my overall long capacity (my one year old had more breath capacity than I did to give you an insight into where I was at that time). She looked at me and straightforwardly said: “ You have asthma. It’s a serious disease and you should take it seriously.” Pause. She looked at me again and repeated the same words but with more emphasis. I looked around the room and there were many pictures of male triathletes and marathoners with handwritten notes thanking her. It seemed I was part of a fairly large club.
Hearing these words was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat-sized dose of my own medicine. “Wake up, Matt!” “Take care of yourself so you can hang around and live what you preach.” “Improve your quality of life, embrace it.” “Don’t be that guy.” And for my fellow mankind out there, please don’t be “that guy.” It’s just your ego, which means nothing if you aren’t around to exercise it.
Stay tuned for more testimonials from our favorite men at Kinected!