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