A closer look
Testosterone is a sex hormone that makes men men. It is responsible for their sex drive, sperm production, body hair, muscle mass and bone density. Men gradually lose testosterone over time especially after the age of 40. Other causes of loss are injuries, infections and hormonal disorders. Some men have no symptoms or fail to recognize them. When symptoms impair quality of life, low testosterone can be evaluated and treated, often by an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in disorders of hormones.
Decrease in sex drive
Decreased bone density
Taking health to the streets
Wayne Lloyd walks the talk — literally — when it comes to healthy living
Lloyd doesn’t need any prodding to take care of himself. The 45-year-old physical education teacher was taught from an early age about the importance of health care and regular doctor’s visits.
His career path kept him on the straight and narrow. Lloyd studied health and physical education in college, and unlike many men who ignore their health for several years following graduation, he instead established a relationship with Dr. J. Jacques Carter, an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
It’s a good thing he did. Lloyd has high blood pressure, which was found during one of his physicals. It is well controlled with medication.
Lloyd said he was glad he started his screenings several years ago. “Over a long period of time, it [high blood pressure] catches up to you,” he said. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of stroke and heart attack.
Lloyd has a healthy lifestyle. “I’ve exercised all my life,” he said. “I run 15 to 20 miles a week.”
It does not end there. He tries to instill these values in his students at Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan. “Children are excited about health,” he said. “They ask a ton of questions.”
Each year his students literally “jump” for good health. They take part in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “Jump Rope for Heart,” an educational event that combines exercise with fund-raising.
“The kids love it,” he said. “The money is donated to the AHA for research in heart disease and stroke.”
Lloyd expresses concern for the health of the kids after they leave elementary school. He knows all too well that as kids age, their concern for health can wane. “Once they reach middle school, I only hope someone can continue to teach them good health habits,” he said.
George Dixon has assumed that mantle. But his responsibility is even greater.
Forget about Mohammed and the mountain. George Dixon has an even more difficult mission: convincing black men to take control of their personal health.
Dixon, 50, knows all too well that men — and black men in particular — shun doctors and go only under extreme circumstances, thereby increasing their risk of a myriad of illnesses, including stroke, heart disease and cancer.
He also knows that failure to get the appropriate screenings early in life can result in permanent and severe disability. And worse — premature death.
In observance of American Stroke Month in May, the American Stroke Association teamed up with the Men’s Health League for the second Cambridge Barbershop Tour. George Dixon (left) a mentor in the League, discusses health information with Justin Wright.
Growing up, his family doctor lived just a block away and actually made house calls. As an adult he was fortunate enough to find a doctor who met his needs and has stayed with him for about 20 years.
Fortunately, his numbers are good — no diabetes, nor prostate or colon cancer. His high blood pressure and high cholesterol are under control.
But something was missing. Although Dixon was satisfied with his good lab report, he realized he needed to keep his numbers in line. He took a close look at himself and sadly came to the realization that the pounds have crept up and he was not the “strapping 160-pound guy” anymore. His wife put it a little more bluntly. “You have more different size clothes than anyone I’ve ever met,” she offered.
A poster about the Men’s Health League (MHL) caught his attention and offered a solution to keep his health on track.
The MHL is co-sponsored by the Cambridge Health Alliance, the Cambridge Family YMCA and the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, a community-based organization developed to help empower community residents.
The program is an initiative to improve men’s health and link them to health care. Men of color are particularly targeted.
The poster was thought-provoking. “Whoa,” thought Dixon. It hit a chord. “I could never do this on my own.”
Dixon joined and never looked back. He finished the 12-week wellness program that promotes routine screening, exercise and information on nutrition and risk factors for chronic diseases.
The MHL is not the first program to educate people at risk to take control of their health. But it has a unique component that Dixon calls an intervention. It affords men the opportunity to discuss among themselves issues relating to health that they would not normally discuss elsewhere.
“There’s a camaraderie,” said Dixon. “We break down barriers and provide a trusting environment. It’s intimidating to walk into an academic medical center and ask for help. Here we speak a common language and people have similar challenges.”
He doesn’t worry about the major changes — it’s the little ones that add up.
Dixon didn’t stop after his 12 weeks. He graduated. Now he’s the mentor, sallying forth to help men who stand where he once stood a while back.