I recently went to the dentist for a cleaning. After examining me he said that I had a bump on my gum that was “of concern” and that I should come back two weeks later to have it checked again. When I came back for the second visit, he told me that he was 99% sure it was “nothing”, but if I was “the type of person who worried about such things”, he could refer me to an oral surgeon who would likely do an invasive biopsy. I don’t want to neglect my health just because it is inconvenient, but I also don’t want to make a big deal about nothing – what should I do?

So I am thinking that maybe this all depends on whether or not your dentist is cute. Like on The Brady Bunch. When Marcia is all excited about going back for her filling because the dentist is such a hottie. Perhaps I should have referenced the recent Glee episode with the hottie dentist? Perhaps the Brady Bunch reference is showing my age perhaps a little too much. Perhaps we’ll move on to the question now.

Two part answer (musing about The Brady Bunch doesn’t count). If I were you, I would monitor it for awhile. See if it grows larger, starts to hurt, turns into a painful canker sore, starts talking. I am a, ‘let’s wait and see’ type of gal. That’s who I am.

However, some people are not. That is their prerogative. They worry and getting things checked out helps allay their worry.

What type of gal are you? Probably a mix. To test or not to test is a big medical quandary these days. After years of doctors ordering up every test in the book every time someone had a muscle ache or nodule, the medical brainiacs are now telling us that most of these tests aren’t really necessary and a major reason health care costs in this country are so astronomical. There are going to be people out there who read this and come after me with stories about how if their sister hadn’t checked out that lump under her arm, they never would have found her breast cancer and AKA understands that – she really does. AKA has friends and relatives with their own cancer and cancer stories. But your body is going to do lots of strange things over the years and what you can do to best prevent catastrophe is to monitor it yourself and to take good care of yourself and follow your intuition and your own path. Stress kills too. So do what is least stressful for you.

And one more thing AKA needs to get off her chest. The explosion of all the ‘test ordering’ and the subsequent backlash is not all grounded in an epic battle between ‘good’ doctors wanting you to have the best care and ‘bad’ doctors who can’t be bothered. Some of these ‘good’ doctors make money off of ordering tests. Some of these ‘good’ dentists get a fee for referring clients to their pal the oral surgeon. Ask lots of questions. Once again, be your own monitor and judge. Medicine is as much art as science and when you are uninformed and let someone else make decisions for you, then you are as reckless as someone who never goes to the doctor at all. We are all gonna’ die. And we aren’t quite sure when. A lot of it is luck. Do what you can to avoid the obvious sand traps – diabetes, smoking, running with scissors – and try to relax about the part that’s out of your control. Just out yesterday from the CDC, Americans are living longer than ever. There’s a little piece of information that we should all tuck away in our ‘perspective bank.’