Visiting doctor after doctor, none could diagnose my pain. They would prescribe a pill with the hopes of relief. Finally one doctor, after still not providing a diagnosis, said, “Let’s give you a hysterectomy. Maybe that will help.” This experience led me to become the project manager of my own health.
Two issues currently exist with our Western medical system. First, our current system no longer treats the patient but treats the symptoms. Medications are administered not to remove the illness but to relieve the symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies market to patients and doctors offering quick fixes to our discomfort. Secondly, the medical practice has become so specialized they have forgotten the overall individual and how the systems work as a whole. These specialists have amazing knowledge about individual systems and their functionality but are often at a loss as to how the other parts of us could affect that system.
Because of this, whether taking care of a family member or your own needs, it is important to take control of your health and well-being. By becoming the project manager of our health, we link together the specialists, add in our own inherent and empirical data, and make lifestyle changes to reduce and prevent illnesses. Hire in the specialists when you need their knowledge, but know you are the decision maker.
Four ways to trust your doctor and be the project manager of your health:
Know Your Body
When you experience a symptom, look at your whole body not just where the pain is. What other symptoms, large or small, are you experiencing? Our bodies are complex interconnected systems. When one area is off, it may be caused by something else — or may be affecting something else. I remember when I was having heel pain eventually I learned that it was caused by a tight muscle in my thigh. It I focused on relieving the pain in my heel, I would have never found the true cause of my pain — and it would have come back.
Be aware of how your unique body works. Be a detective of your distinctive body and its functioning. How do you feel after different foods? What happens just before you notice symptoms? How does your exercise or sleep affect your body’s functionality? Take the time to uncover correlations to help you understand the cause and effect of your discomfort.
Look Beyond Your Body
Remember to look beyond the body itself. The way we eat, exercise, sleep, move, believe, think, and act all have an effect on our body. In my own case, my inability to decrease my stress level was the key factor of my physical body pain. Don’t immediately blame your body or some disease for your issues. Sometimes the culprit is our lifestyle. Our bodies are designed for perfection, how are you helping or hindering this perfection?
The power in looking beyond your body to your habits and way of living is in empowering you to minimize or remove unwanted symptoms. If you always have acid reflux after eating pizza, try to stop eating pizza instead of adding a pill to your diet. The pill is only covering up the symptom and may be negatively affecting other parts of your body. Instead, try making lifestyle changes and see how you can positively affect your health.
Inform the Doctor
Doctors have degrees in medicine, but they don’t have a degree in your specific body; only you do. Trust yourself. Know that you are the expert of your body and what is good for you. It is your responsibility to let the doctor know about other issues, other reactions you have noticed, and ways you have found to bring relief. Speak up and help the doctor understand how your unique body works. Remember that the doctor is not with you every moment of every day. Only you are. Your responsibility is to ensure all your healthcare practitioners are aware of your unique situation and needs.
A friend recently went to the doctor for an infection. The remedy the doctor prescribed would have been counter to the cancer procedure this individual was on, even though this issue was spelled out on the intake form. Doctors are human too. They may overlook things. Be your own advocate and ensure nothing is overlooked.
Doctors are magnificently specialized, which means they have vast knowledge in one area, but it also means they may only look at one part or system. Help the doctor to see the whole picture of your unique case. Just like a project manager, coordinate different teams (doctors) to ensure the project is being handled properly.
Look to the Long Term
In our current immediate gratification society, we often want easy and quick results. A personal trainer I know was working with a few women on their New Year’s resolution weight loss goals. These women were disappointed when they only lost two pounds the first week. In other programs, the women often lost eight pounds the first week. However, they also regain the weight as quickly as they lost it.
Our health is a marathon, not a sprint. Short-term fixes may also lead to fast-paced reversals. Quick solutions may also create other issues in other parts of our bodies. As the project manager of your health, look to the long term. Take the time to create a diet, exercise, and mental health routine which slowly and surely creates a strong foundation for your health. This may take longer and take more will power than simply popping a pill, but it also allows your body to health itself and maintain better health for a longer period of time.