When your health depends on it… know who to depend on.
When is the last time you went to the doctor for a physical? Not when you last had a cold or needed a flu shot, but when you actually sat face to face with your physician and ran through the list of family medical history, lifestyle habits, and talked about issues you face? For a large part of the lesbian community, this is not a yearly check-up as it should be. Many of us fear judgment, criticism, or a negative reaction from the health system. I personally used to fear not being “understood.” What could a physician really have to offer me? They aren’t necessarily trained to understand lesbian disease risks or topics that might be of importance to me, were they? Maybe some of us don’t go in for check-ups because we don’t have insurance or aren’t offered domestic partner benefits through our partner’s workplace. Maybe it is the fear of the unknown?
Working in the healthcare field, I’ve learned that physicians are human. We can talk to them and let them know we are human, too. We don’t have to be “perfect,” they aren’t. Don’t stop yourself from walking through that doorway just because you are afraid your cholesterol is high, you haven’t been keeping up on your pap smears, or you haven’t quite kicked your smoking habit. At large, the medical profession is there to help; and not just to help heterosexual patients. The more our community is represented in their practices, the more they become aware of our needs, fears, and common health issues, they more they can help.
Lesbians are susceptible to specific illnesses related to lifestyle, genetics, etc. Lesbians are more likely to have polycystic ovarian syndrome. For those of us that want to one day carry children, this disease can cause problems. Only with treatment can this be avoided. Lesbians are also more susceptible to certain kinds of cancer. Going in for these yearly exams and pap smears are the only way to be diagnosed early, when treatment can do the most good. Consider taking your health into your own hands and advocating for yourself and your future. You deserve to be healthy. I want for nothing more than for you to be healthy. I’m fighting that fight for myself right now, too.
If you haven’t been to the doctor because you don’t have health insurance, have you considered these options?
Country Doctor Community Health Centers
A great Capitol Hill health center. They operate on a sliding scale for patients without insurance, but will not turn anyone away for inability to pay. They offer everything from disease management, check-ups, immunization, and acupuncture. On Thursdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. they feature the Spectrum Natural Health Clinic which offers primary and naturopathic care for the LGBTQ community. Call (206) 299-1600 to make an appointment. www.countrydoctor.org.
The Bastyr Center for Natural Health
This center offers income-based rate assistance. All patients paying cash at the time of service also receive a discount. For first time patients, they even offer a “Welcome to Wellness” introductory session with a naturopathic team. They have discounted counseling services for around $15 per session. The senior community can be seen in any department for only $15. This is the teaching clinic for Bastyr University and visits will feature a team of professionals who are learning in action. Counseling, naturopathic medicine, nutrition, and acupuncture are services available at Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Call (206) 834-4100 for appointments & information. www.Bastyrcenter.org.
Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Sea Mar Community Health Centers were originally founded to serve the Latino community, however they have grown in size and are open to all patient populations and now serve a diverse client base. With clinics all over Washington, these centers are incredible. They offer everything from dental care to x-rays to behavioral health and social services. They offer service on a sliding scale based on income and household size. Call (206) 762-3730 for an appointment. www.seamar.org.
If you are looking for lower cost options for complimentary therapies and treatments, take a look at these:
Cortiva Institute Massage School
Located in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, this massage school offers low cost massage sessions with massage therapists in training. The massages run about $35, in a city where the average cost of a massage is around $75. The trick is to get onto their short notice “call list”. These massages, offered last minute, are often free of charge. Call (206) 204-3170 or book online. www.cortiva.com.
Groupon, Living Social, and Tippr
The deals offered through these “group discount” online sites are incredible. Everything from dental services to yoga classes to laser hair removal is available at significantly discounted prices. Looking for something in particular? I bet you’ll find it here. Check out their websites, sign up for deals, and they’ll be forwarded to your inbox daily.
I am a big fan of the “trial membership.” Not only does it allow me to try something before I invest, but it allows me to vary my workout routine and try many different kinds of exercise before figuring out what is right for me.
ModBody Pilates & Fitness
ModBody Pilates & Fitness offers a group boot camp class on Monday evenings (6pm) and Saturday mornings (9am). Work in the frontal, sagittal, and transverse planes of motion and become stronger, faster, leaner – whether it be for everyday activities, sports, or weekend warrior competitions! The aim is to make life better, easier, and to help you feel stronger in all the things that you do. Personal training sessions are also available for purchase. Try a combination of workouts to see what fits you best. www.modbodyfitness.com.
24 Hour Fitness
This Seattle club offers a 24 day free trial membership. www.24hourfitness.com.
Magnuson Athletic Club
This club offers free class passes. Try out one of their Les Mills Group Training classes; BodyPump, BodyFlow, or RPM. www.macseattle.com.
The Samarya Center
This center offers low cost and free community yoga classes. They offer a variety of classes on sliding scale, with a focus on various subjects; addiction, body image, depression, intimate relationships, and chronic pain management. www.samaryacenter.org.
Your health is so important. You only get one body and can only live this life once. Take good care of your body and it will take good care of you. I hope this list helps you to take the first step; you have nothing to lose and health to gain.
Stacey Sorgen is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Health Coach (CHC) at ModBody Pilates & Fitness. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Riverside.