Advocating for Your Own Health

Marek Uliasz | – <a href=”″>Health concept – cloud of related words and topics</a>dreamstime_m_11856791

Growing up, doctors were seen as god like beings, all-knowing, all-seeing. Even today, doctors, who in my mind, conjure up images of Doogie Howser, MD, the 16-year-old TV doctor from years gone by, are addressed by their surnames while their 65-year-old patients are often called by their first names. Is that disrespectful? Societal norms? Ridiculous?

I know, I digress……. Anyhow….. As we age, many of our body parts start to revolt: “Hey, I’m here! Pay attention to me!”,  my body screams when I eat something a little too spicy, or I suddenly realize my cholesterol is out of whack. Many of my friends, men and women alike, are bewildered when they’ve followed all of the rules, taken all of the requisite annual screenings, only to find out that some undiagnosed malady is lurking somewhere inside their body silently wreaking havoc before rearing its ugly head and is discovered.

The sense of betrayal is overwhelming. Denial, anger and ultimate depression is, in many cases, a given. Finding oneself in a vulnerable state when up to this point invincibility was the key word, is frightening. How will this unwanted invasive enemy impact your life? How can fear transition into a positive action not just a negative reaction?

First and foremost, get educated. Find out what the most prevalent diseases and risk factors are for men and women in your age group. Research the best doctors and hospitals in the area. I am a true believer in board certified specialists. You will never go wrong by finding out who the most experienced doctors are per a certain speciality, after all, “what do they call the doctor who graduated last in his class? DOCTOR! Although I realize someone has to graduate last in his class, I just don’t want THAT doctor to be MY doctor.  It always astounds me when patients refuse to ask for a second opinion, which, by the way, is an accepted practice that even insurance companies recognize, encourage and pay for! Don’t be lulled into a false sense of comfort.

Face the fear head on. I strongly believe fear is an absence of faith so, for me,  I keep that belief system front and center in my thought process. Secondly, I get that second opinion which enables me to have confidence in the treatment plan and advice my doctor provides. I also do my own research regarding alternative things I can do to enhance my life and sense of well-being. Rest, nutrition, exercise, and a personal commitment to decrease stress have become permanent additions to my daily “to do” list.

A well-worn cliché states that “the only person we can change is ourselves” and that is a definite truth. How we react and respond to a situation, whether it’s a health crisis, job loss, or death of a loved one is well within our purview. As long as we remain as optimistic as we can, follow the plan, move forward, and don’t forget to laugh, love and yes, have fun, that’s all we can ask of ourselves.

And always remember that life is not a dress rehearsal, this is it!





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