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I went to the doctor for my annual health check-up and she wanted me to take the Stress Test and I refused believing that it would kill me.

The doctor looked at me amused and she seemed to be getting lots of patients self-diagnosing themselves after asking Google, Alexa or Siri, the virtual experts.

(Incidentally, I saw a cartoon recently showing people waiting in a doctor’s office. There is a sign on the wall: “Those who already self-diagnosed their symptoms on Google and want a second opinion, please check Yahoo.com).

I had read that a perfectly healthy guy died after taking the treadmill stress test, and it had also brought back the anxious time when I had thought that I was suffering from a heart attack.

One website said the test was perfectly safe and that it detects clogging of the arteries feeding the heart, but there are risks such as fainting, chest pain and irregular heartbeat.

I had to attach wires all over my chest and the doctor at the hospital in Mississauga, Canada, said: “I will now increase the gradient,” as I huffed and puffed with my weak lungs that were destroyed by smoking.

The doctor in Bengaluru patiently explained the stress test to me and said she would stop it if I felt anything abnormal. I warily stood on the treadmill and held on for dear life as the doctor started the test. Then she looked at me and said, “Are you afraid?” Apparently, the target heart rate had been reached without me taking a single step.

Traumatic and expensive

Getting an annual health check-up is traumatic and expensive for people like me. I was advised to take an Executive Health Check Up and the “package” cost more than Rs4,000 (Dh260 plus) and it isn’t covered by medical insurance. Nothing inside me was overlooked, right from my thyroid to my prostate.

I stopped eating and drinking the night before and arrived at the hospital late afternoon.

“Now?” asked the front desk person. “Are you fasting?”

When I said, yes, she called someone on the phone. “We can’t do the health test. You are fasting for more than 10 hours,” she said.

I went back home starving and yes, checked Google, and found an online medical site that said a 12-hour fast was needed for a lipid profile, the cholesterol test.

The next day I went early, and the nurse took five vials of blood, and since I was dehydrated by now, gleefully gave me a tiny plastic container, asked me to fill it up in the toilet and place it in a tray in a hole in the wall.

The container had my name on it and I was a bit shy about people finding out that the weak-coloured body fluid was mine and looking at me and saying, “Tsk, tsk ...”

A health check is big business in Bengaluru (and I am sure everywhere globally) as people suffer from stress, lethargy and long commutes. Doctors are advising that guys as young as 20 years old have their cholesterol level checked as American junk food is very popular here and could lead to various lifestyle ailments ranging from high blood pressure to deadly heart diseases.

I keep getting SMSes that I need to get my liver and kidney checked and getting offered free services of a nutritionist that will tell me what or what not to eat. A guy will even come to my home on a motorbike and collect the blood sample, say the messages.

The good news is that I did not expire, and the tests came out fine. Now I can get back to my usual unhealthy lifestyle.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi