One of the reasons I love family medicine is for the chance to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s my job, as a family doctor, to prevent disease in my patients. This is done in a few ways:
- asking patients about their smoking status, alcohol intake, exercise and diet habits, and counselling regarding the risks/benefits of these habits
- ensuring proper screening measures are undertaken, i.e. prostate, breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening
- ensuring the periodic health review is done, i.e., screening for diabetes, heart health ( cholesterol and blood pressure)
When I diagnose a patient with diabetes, or high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, a small part of me feels like I’ve failed my patient. I feel like I should have been more aggressive in making sure they knew the consequences of having impaired fasting glucose, high cholesterol or uncontrolled high blood pressure. But I can only advise. Ultimately it’s the patient’s responsibility to take control of their own health.
Which brings me to the reason for this post. I wish I had something in the exam room that patients could read while they wait for me. Something that is short, simple but to the point on how to stay healthy. The closest thing I could find was actually on the back of my father-in-law’s bathroom door.
“HOW TO STAY YOUNG”, BY GEORGE CARLIN
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
It really is quite simple, isn’t it?
Well, if it were, we wouldn’t need doctors, now would we?