Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Am I Taking Care of My Health?

Sometimes we ignore things about ourselves we should see and attend to.

There’s the well-known line from poet Robert Burns, desiring: to see ourselves as others see us.  Though the phrase can apply to many aspects of our lives, today my focus is singular—health.  Look in the bathroom mirror and study what you see.  Right at the outset the image reflected back at you might reveal things about your health.  The obvious:

  • Weight—many health issues are the result of extra pounds—diabetes, arthritis, musculoskeletal aches and pains, joint problems;
  • Skin lesions—moles, non-healing sores, new growths—many need to be checked for skin cancers;
  • Lumps, bruises, bumps—if they don’t disappear on their own in a reasonable amount of time, they need to be checked.

And certainly a lot of interior things occur in the body that you won’t see when you examine yourself in the mirror—vision, hearing, digestion, breathing, and energy problems to name a few.  The basic message: bodies need more care and attention than cars, bikes, computers, phones and other possessions.  They are your most important possession.  Regular check-ups are essential.  Having a family doc who knows you and can help you maintain your health is essential.

Dr. Stewart Segal is just such a family doc.  He recently blogged about his patients writing: I wish my patients could see what I see.  I see through a lens sharpened over 30 years of experience.  I see the present and often the future.  Yes, I’m a fortuneteller!  Many times, the picture of the future I see is bleak.

Segal writes that because he has a fortune-teller capacity it’s his job to try and change a patient’s future.  So—if he sees a 30-year old diabetic, overweight and out of shape, with high blood pressure and cholesterol, who ignores his health to work hard for his family—Segal works to get him to respect his diabetes, to truly see that he cannot ignore this condition and put off taking care of his health.  Segal sees the future and knows what is coming.  How can this be?

Segal writes: When I walk into the next room, I see a 60-year old diabetic who started with me 28 years ago.  He has kidney disease and sees a kidney specialist.  He can’t feel his feet (nerve damage from uncontrolled diabetes).  He has an infection in his toe that won’t heal.  He will go for wound management therapy to the local hospital and see a surgeon.  He will lose his toe and maybe, his foot.

The future of the 30-year-old diabetic will be the 60-year-old’s present—if he doesn’t look in the mirror; if he doesn’t realize that working toward a future for his family must include his own health.

This is a great message for all of us as we buzz through life ignoring minor things about our health and banking on the fact that there will always be time to take care of them.

THERE MIGHT NOT BE TIME.  Segal concludes: I see the future.  Sometimes, I see dead people, walking.  I wish my patients could see what I see.

Please make that doctor or nurse practitioner appointment today.

Thanks to Dr. Stewart Segal, a family physician who blogs at Livewellthy.org.

Thanks to Karol Kallnowski Photo stream

6 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Am I Taking Care of My Health?

  1. This article is very important to all of us. Please heed the warnings so you’ll never have to say “I wish I would have” about your health.

  2. Thanks for always responding so quickly, Bill. I know you heed the warnings and I hope more people do. Beth

  3. But Beth,
    What will that doctor tell that patient that neglects his heath because he can’t afford to take care of it? What will that doctor say when the patient says he cannot afford regular visits to the doctor even with insurance? What will that doctor say when the patient can’t afford proper food choices or to relax after work because work is the only thing that provides the insurance and food that cares for the children? While I respect health, maybe even more than most because I live with a serious, chronic illness (which is incidentally diabetes) there are certain aspects of life and health that do not mix. Medical costs, even with insurance are so costly and some people (I, myself being one of them) cannot afford regular check ups or the grocery bill that comes along with precise diabetes care. It’s a very sad state of affairs when certain things are forsaken simply because all you can worry about is the here and now. Sometimes other people rely on you so much TODAY that you cannot think about what will happen tomorrow, you just have to keep going as long as you can today because if you don’t there is no one else to feed that child, dress that child, shelter that child that you love so dearly, you sacrifice yourself so she has you at least for her childhood.

    • When I wrote the piece, Natalie, I was aware and concerned about just the problem you present. And I have no answer except to say that there are facilities, like your local health department, that often offer affordable care. Look into it. Your children are vastly important, but if you cannot be there for them in the future, to help them grow, that will be a worse tragedy. I hope you walk and exercise, limit junk food when you can and see a doctor at least once a year. Our local health department even offers diabetes education classes for free. Check out yours. You never know and take care of yourself.

  4. Some people take better care of their cars, homes, bikes, __________ than they do of themselves.

    T.O.T.O.M. – Theory of the Oxygen Mask – you know the reminder you get when a flight takes off – means looking after yourself, not necessarily in big, time-eating ways, but small bite-sized chunks.

    It may mean trying many different strategies on for size until you find one that is a good fit.

  5. I’ve heard about TOTOM and that makes sense. And health certainly is a process. But there has to be a place where we start, and if it’s related to how we see ourselves, that’s a start. I went to the dermatologist because of hair loss and they found something wrong in my labs. So now I am on that quest. But it’s a blessing.

    Also, Marianna, wanted to make sure you read this. http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2012/01/mobile-app-chronic-pain.html
    and thanks for your reply, as always. Beth

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