By now, most are aware of how Hilary Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia on a Friday, was told to rest up, and she kept on working through a Sunday. I don’t know about you, but 9 out of 10 times, when sick, I keep on working.
A few years back I landed at JFK airport after a difficult trip back from Australia. Twelve hours later I was in the emergency room. 20 hours after that I was at urgent care. I had a parasite, was severely dehydrated to the point of being in horrible pain, and was woozy from Cipro. I tried to rest. I rested till 9am and then I got up and worked each day thereafter for a week despite feeling like I was going to explode. Should I have rested more? Sure. But I honestly didn’t think it would make that much of a difference. Plus, I had stuff that needed to get done. And no, there were no others who could do that particular work. Life is not fair and it is not easy for a grand majority of us.
I have ignored plenty of medical advice from doctors. I should keep that a secret considering I’m in the healthcare field. But you will keep my secret, right? But besides being in the field, I’m human. Here’s the deal.
We motivate ourselves to make an appointment. Sometimes having to wait weeks to see a particular doctor. We go because we are told we should do so. Going to the doctor will help make one get better, supposedly. You finally get the appointment and make it to the doctor’s office. You are seen for maybe 10 minutes and during that time they may or may not pretend to check your throat and ears. Then they readily admit they are not too sure what’s wrong with you. And then you wonder why did you even bother going in the first place. You get a prescription. Deep down you wonder if it will work considering the doctor didn’t really know what was wrong. You notice that the prescription information warns you that you will become drowsy, at best. At worse, you can have a heart attack per the warning labels. So, you are supposed to take this medicine that will make you a walking zombie and it may or may not work and you have work to get done. At that point you may very well second guess your doctor’s advice. You decide to live on the edge just like this LA model posing for her photo shoot.
I am not advocating completely ignoring medical advice. That would be unethical and unsound. I am just noting that we have many competing thoughts and priorities. We sometimes mess up in not following through on medical advice.
This morning I started my intensive physical therapy in the hopes of not needing to have surgery. I am extremely motivated to follow the guidance set forth by both my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy. Yet, even with extreme motivation I forget to do certain exercises at night and also remain skeptical of the advice to get back on the elliptical machine. I forget my exercises at times because I’m extremely tired from work. Straight up. I’m skeptical because I’m afraid. I’m afraid if I get on the elliptical I will injure myself in a worse way and I really don’t want that surgery. It’s a psychological catch-22.
Sometimes we “psych” ourselves into believing things will get better on their own. A cold eventually goes away, right? We look up our ailments and use our Internet searches as second opinions. As a healthcare provider at large, I can promise myself to do better in following medical advice. But sometimes I don’t keep my own promises to myself. That gummy worms bag in my pantry is proof of that.