by Stewart B. Segal, MD
Sometimes I wish my patients would stop trying. They try to stop smoking. They try to lose weight. They try to take charge of their medical issues and get healthier. The problem is that something always stops them from succeeding. Today’s patients were stymied by work stresses, college weekend with the children, an anniversary celebration and depression over a lost marriage. The problem lies in the fact that today’s patients got sicker despite being warned about the consequences of not taking care of themselves.
The remarkable thing about today’s patients is that they are all hard working, successful people. Despite the stresses of work, the celebrating and the grief, each of these patients went to work every day since I last saw them. Each of these patients was successful at work despite their other problems.
The difference in the word “work” versus the word “try” is the difference between failure and success. When you work at a job, you go to work day after day regardless of whether you want to. When you work and make a mistake, you correct that mistake and learn not to make it again. When you work at a job, you resolve to finish it no matter how long you have to work to accomplish your task. Sure, jobs are stressful; but going to work provides for your daily needs.
When you” try”, you give yourself an out. In my experience, “try” is always followed by “but” and implies failure. “Doc, I tried, but my cat ate your instructions. I’ll try again.” What that really means is it’s not my fault. Can you imagine going to your boss and saying, “I tried to finish the project but failed? I’ll try harder next time.” I think you’d be fired. When your heart fires you by failing or your feet fire you by going numb from diabetes, you’re plain out of luck.
So, this New Years when you make those famous resolutions, resolve to work on your health care issues. Hire yourself to lose weight, or stop smoking, or start exercising. Actually schedule that colonoscopy, that physical exam or the appointment with the counselor. While you are at it, use the same work ethic and skills that have made you successful to accomplish your health care goals. Then revel in your new found health and live long and healthy.