“I was increasingly frustrated with people, mostly men, not wanting to be screened for diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol,” the Fond du Lac physician wrote in one of his pieces for News From Indian Country. “Prostate exams and colonoscopies were out of the question for many of them. These are men, they do not allow anyone to stick a finger or a scope into their rectum (the actual phrases used were a little more colorful).”
In the same column he admitted that, even as he watched some of the reservation’s men die because they refused to come in for standard screenings, he could’ve been a lot more proactive when it came to his own health.
Enter “Walking Into the Unknown,” the Nate Maydole-directed documentary that follows Vainio as he navigates through the health care system that many American Indian men are reluctant to embrace.
Vainio said, yes, Maydole’s cameras were intrusive most of the time, but, again, he felt it was all for a good cause.
“My prostate exam is on there, and there were four cameras in that room,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot more graphic than it was, but, still, it’s pretty graphic. When we first saw the film, my wife, Ivy, was like, ‘You can’t show that.’ But we did, we kept it in there, because it’s important for people to see what that is.”
He hopes that “Walking Into the Unknown,” which was produced by his wife and primarily funded by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, will help to quell any fears some may have about going in for uncomfortable-but-necessary medical procedures and screenings.