July 21, 2011
If there is one thing I hear every day and almost more than any other comment, it is, “But I’ve never had . . . before! Anytime I suggest that my patient may have something new, I get:
- But I’ve never had headaches before.
- But I’ve never had a heart problem before.
- But I’ve never had lung problems before.
- And so on, and so on!
Of course, you’ve never had it before. Most of my patients are born healthy. The problem with life is that, as you get older, you are more likely to experience problems that you have never had. The magical thought, “I can’t have lung cancer because I’ve never had lung problems and haven’t even smoked” sets my patient up for catastrophe.
One thing is for sure. In any given lifetime, there will be a lot of firsts. Some firsts will be very good and others will be very bad. The objective in life is to experience lots of good “firsts” and avoid all bad “firsts”.
So how do you accomplish that feat? First of all, believe in the impossible. What seems to be impossible today may well become tomorrow’s reality. “I can’t be having a heart attack! I have great genes, cholesterol, and health habits! It must be indigestion.” Yes, it’s unlikely that, with your history, your chest pain is from your heart; but, if it is and you ignore it, well- hasta la vista, baby!
Second, play it safe. Plan for any eventuality. I know you probably aren’t having a heart attack; but, if you are, let’s make sure we are prepared for it, diagnose it early, and help you fully recover. “Yes, I’m calling the paramedics. If you have a heart attack while driving, you could kill yourself and others.”
Third, stop doing things that increase your odds of having a bad “first”. If you ride a “donorcycle”, wear a helmet. I know you’re a great driver. I know you’ve never had an accident. If your reasoning of “but I’ve never” was true, no one would ever have a motorcycle accident. The worst “but I’ve never” come from patients who have never worn oxygen, never been on dialysis, and never been confined to a wheelchair or a nursing home. They are truly shocked to learn that they will never be normal again. They are also plagued by the knowledge that they did it themselves by smoking, drinking, and ignoring their health.
My wish for you is that you never experience ill health. You can help make my wish come true by living a “Wellthy” lifestyle.