My spousal unit and I just watched more TV than we probably should have over the holidays. Before the holidays I felt confident, healthy, full of energy, ate most anything I wanted to, and slept like a log.
After the holidays? I am now a basket case. I thought I was fine and in great health. But NOOOO! I’ve got everything wrong with me. How did drug manufacturers know? “Yes, yes, and yes,” to every symptom I heard about on TV. I had no idea.
What to do? “TALK to your doctor.” I can’t tell you how thankful I am that there are drugs my doctor can give me for all this stuff. I want to feel good again, shoot baskets (even using a shaky backboard), and sit in one tub of a twin-tub setup, outside, on a hill, and overlooking a beautiful panorama of nature (on the horizon and in the next tub). I also need to get that elephant off my chest, please! It’s like Horton uncensored.
And I don’t care about all those side effects. They go through those fast just because they have to say those things, even though I know they couldn’t happen to me (especially the erection lasting more than four hours). I just want my life to be like the people in the commercials, and fast.
There Is Educational Help
I read some of that educational stuff the drug companies so generously share with the public. And let me tell you, boy, if my doctor tries to say I don’t need something, I’ll be backed up with totally objective information, wonderfully designed, graphically illustrated, and printed in beautiful full color with big print. Kind of like the New England Journal of Medicine employing a great graphic designer, and a writer who can actually keep words and sentences short. Who can argue with science like that?
But I am not stopping there in my quest for regaining the health I didn’t know I lost until this past week. Lucky for me, our local hospital is putting on some seminars, and I am signing up for front-row seats. Check it out:
* Living with hearing loss (includes a free lunch). I said, “IT COMES WITH A FREE LUNCH.”
* Joint replacement A to Z (full disclosure, I own stock in Stryker).
* GERD: Complications from Top to Bottom (luckily no free lunch included).
* MAKOplasty® (joint resurfacing): Why it is Superior to All Other Technology.
* Thyroid Lumps & Bumps. This is part of the Healthy Living Lecture Series.
* Weight Loss Surgery with the da Vinci® Robot (no free lunch here either).
* New Vein Treatment Options (includes a free lunch). Seating is limited, which makes sense because the participants probably experience pain when standing according to the information.
And I think when I get back to work (if I don’t get admitted to a hospital first), I’ll finally go through all the bio-screening, HRAs, and other assessments, and see what other ailments are sneaking up on me like so many evil Ninjas in the night. Who knows, I might have a pre-disease of some kind. I want to know what’s coming. Where in the world was my slowly balding head that I missed all these symptoms? BTW, I need to get something for that hair thing, too.
I’ve been putting off going through these wellness screenings because I’ve just been too busy, and it just seemed like a lot of personal information. But that was before I realized that I am practically like one of those walking zombies I see in coming attractions for movies. Besides, my employer will incent me to do these things. I think I’ll do them all, then buy a private island with the newly acquired incentive stash.
The ACA Supports Screenings
I heard the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will encourage wellness screenings by sweetening tax incentives to workplaces, if workplaces give bigger incentives to employees to get screened for disease. Makes sense, right? The more people we can get screened, the more people we can treat early, the more people we can call “patients,” and the more we can get people to get the treatment they don’t know they really need.
Let’s take a moment to review:
- You might think your health is a little off. Have you had sore muscles, some joints ache, and a little trouble sleeping? Oh, boy. You’ve probably got something nasty.
- You might feel fine now, but health Armageddon may be just around the corner. It’s possible something like “The Alien” is growing inside you right now. But don’t worry about it; it’s probably nothing.
- You probably won’t be misdiagnosed, receive un-needed treatment or procedure, be over treated, or killed by a clinical error or drug reaction. I also doubt you’ll get addicted to narcotics, and then spend years in a chronic state. I hear that stuff happens. But it’s so unpleasant to think about, maybe it’s better not to think about it.
- All those nice, professional people who want to screen you for disease are completely objective. They’ll tell you if you really need the treatment or not. They don’t need the extra $20 grand anyway.
Hold it a second while I take some deep breaths. Get a little oxygen back into the brain cells, turn off the TV, settle down and re-think this.
The biggest risk I’ve ever taken is living. The simple act of life brings so many hazards. But I’ve concluded that it’s worth the multiple risks I am exposed to on a daily basis. Eventually, we all die. I am not going out of my way to invite a visit from the Grim Reaper, but I am not going to avoid him when it’s my time — and neither are you.
I’ve also decided that I’d rather continue to age than stop the process. As part of that deal, I understand that sometimes stuff hurts, or doesn’t feel right, or that I get sick for a while. But I also get to gain the kind of wisdom that the years reveal to us.
Here’s Some Wisdom About Using the Health-Care System
1. Trust your own instincts. If you feel well, and your body is functioning pretty much like it feels it should be, you’re probably just fine.
2. Question the motivation of the party interested in “educating” you about a product or a procedure. Of course people have to get paid for their work, but that doesn’t mean we have to make decisions without full disclosure of what people and parties benefit. In other words, ask yourself who in your care circle is making the money, and where is the money coming from? If you’ve got good insurance, you’re more of a target for unnecessary care.
3. Don’t be naïve about the fact that bad apples exist in the practice of medicine. Sometimes the bad apples present themselves as pure evil, but most times they have huge lapses in ethics. And sometimes they’re oblivious like the drug rep who is pushing a risky medication on everyone because he just wants to “help people.”
4. Use common sense. If a workplace screens 1,000 people, it’s going to uncover something. We have to suspend reality to think that in any “massive health screening” there will not be misdiagnosis, unnecessary treatment, and unnecessary procedures. And the truth is that these instances are abundant because we’re exposing people to a medical system on the hunt for more patients. Think about that before you approve a health screening.
5. The very first line of defense in using the health-care system is to get a second or even third opinion if you’re diagnosed with anything. The best care option with the greatest outcome is often that you don’t actually have what you were first diagnosed with, the surgery isn’t necessary, or monitor and observe for now.
6. Be a great consumer of health care. Go to your doctors prepared. Be ready to clearly explain to them your symptoms, the most serious first. Then, write down any questions you have, and don’t leave until you get answers. Always bring an advocate with you to an important doctor’s appointment.
7. Be confident and assertive. It’s your mind, body, and spirit. If you run into a health-care provider who doesn’t have time for your questions, is rushing you into treatment, or you’re not able to make a good connection with, go to a different provider.
8. Discuss health screens with your doctor and use the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations to review the appropriateness of health screens for your individual situation.
9. Become familiar with the Leapfrog Safety Scores for the hospitals that service your area. If you need to be admitted to a hospital, selecting the safest one could be one of the most important decisions you make in your life. Do this now, take notes, and let everyone you know which hospital you prefer to use should you need one.
10. Don’t watch too many TV commercials… take in too many free health lectures… or get screened more than advised by the scientific evidence.
Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.