Did you know that there is a whole world of heath care providers that want to educate you? I can even forget this. One thing that has happened in doctor patient care is a loss of dialogue. Just like everything in our society right now we expect a fast and exact answer to everything. I have symptom A; give me the exact fix for symptom A, and it needs to work immediately. This kind of mentality works for certain conditions; basic infections like a urinary tract infection, certain STD’s, strep throat, conjunctivitis, basics. This is not so simple with complex issues like soft tissues injuries (what I mainly see, be it injury to the spine or other joints), or complex diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression, or thyroid problems. But the medical model is also supporting this idea of fix problem A with treatment A; doctor visits are short and the pharmaceutical companies are giving the old college try to coming up with a pill answer to every condition and problem (no matter how many problems they may create).
This has made preventative medicine into the same game; drink 100 vitamin C packets to avoid a cold. Take cranberry pills to avoid the UTI. Drink the supplement drink to lose weight. We are not valuing the whole picture, medicine and preventative care have become hyper focused on piecing out exactly what is going to work and getting rid of the rest. I am not having an original new thought by thinking, eat the orange don’t take the vitamin C. What makes me crazy is that this mentality encourages waiting for or looking for a symptom before acting.
Let me tell you about my 4Runner. I loved my 4Runner. It was the car I had always wanted. It was cool steal gray with a cool stripe. It was used and from the 90’s so I had no worries about it. It should have run forever with me in it looking cool. That fall I fell into some trauma. My older horse was injured so I had to drive out to the barn every day and I was really distracted and worried we were going to have to put him down. I had just been through a break up and was a mess. I drove it on a road trip that was supposed to make me feel better but left me feeling even worse. And I was going to try to leave to go to Nepal, so I was trying to get vaccines that were covered by my insurance ( HA- JOKE- nothing is covered by insurance EVER). And then one day I was driving the sweet old girl and I thought I was running out of gas and got to my exit and pulled over and she turned off. Never to turn on again. I had run it out of oil and gas at the same time. If you are an engine, oil is your life blood and gas is your fuel. During all of my chaos and distraction to just function everyday I had forgotten all about PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE care for my beloved vehicle—like changing or adding OIL AND FUEL (basics right?!). So she died, and I have to live everyday knowing I’m the only one who killed her.
Let’s extrapolate this lesson to our own vehicles in this life, our bodies. Let’s say I’m in conflict with a friend and I’m totally distracted, like, drive past the road I live on distracted. Maybe I’m hurt, my old knee injury has been really painful with the changing winter weather and I feel not strong or motivated. Then let’s add a sadness, maybe an old pet died recently, and I still miss their little furry face everyday and I’m sad. None of these things support my preventative maintenance to my vehicle. Am I changing the oil by exercising and eating good fats? Likely no, I’m likely on the couch eating cheese and crackers with a beer. Am I putting fuel in the tank regularly? Likely I just skipped breakfast and will eat more cheese and crackers for dinner. So why am I surprised when I get sick? Why would you be surprised if at your physical all of a sudden your thyroid or blood glucose is out of whack? Illness, especially complex illnesses are the equivalent of running the car out of oil and gas. Your body will compensate as long as it can until it cannot anymore. At that point, you’re REALLY sick. Like prescriptions, maybe hospital visits, lots of doctors trying to find the problem and this is now a diagnosis you’re going to have for a long time.
So much media coverage of medications on TV and such has made is seem more normal to have conditions like diabetes and chronic pain, depression, and gut issues. Illness is never normal in the body. It’s a sign that we have missed the beginning warnings (like a fuel and engine light being on) and now we’ve blown that gasket right open instead of adding oil 3,000 miles ago. Having to take a medication everyday and maybe for the rest of your life shouldn’t be the normal. Now I truly know and believe that western medicine and medications save lives EVERYDAY and we should all be grateful they exist. I just don’t want to overlook the power of just working a little harder to get your preventative medicine in place so you can function for 500,000 miles, not just get run down literally on the side of the road by your younger punk self who didn’t know any better.
I am also willing to bet that you already know the basics too! But we need to value the impact they can have. I will make the short list of basic recommendations here, but I hope you join me this spring for a family night discussion of preventative medicine where we will be looking at the current research, discussing hot topic issues that can be distracting from our goals, and making a plan that will work for your family. I will be running these once a month this year as I feel it is the most important health care we can give ourselves and our kids. But, here’s a quick recap!
Join us in the office for family night where we will trouble shoot access to some of these goals and dive into the research about just how important these things are. I hope to see you there!
Stories, projects, and ideas from office to farm. Be well! Dr. J