I was driving in town last week when a funeral procession passed by on the other side of the road. As is southern tradition everyone on my side of the road pulled to the side or stopped until the last car in the procession had passed. In total it took about 5 minutes. I have heard this tradition began back in the days of one lane roads when people would pull to the side to allow the entire procession to pass before continuing. I suppose it has continued in the modern age as a sign of respect for those who have passed. As I sat on the side of the road I wondered that we all were sitting quiet and respectful of someone that we don’t know who has already departed this plane and could frankly care less about what we were doing. I then wondered how many people will spend more time on the side of the road out of respect for the dead than tending to the living body they inhabit?
A recent article in Medscape discussed how the “yearly physical” may be a thing of the past. According to the authors there is little evidence that having a physical changes the parameters of health for most people when measured by simple statistics. I can’t say I am surprised. If you think about it, the yearly physical has become little more than a cursory examination and the interpretation of a few basic lab tests with the results boiled down to “everything looks great, see you next year” or “ you need to change your diet, exercise more and think about dropping a few pounds”. With the typical doctor’s visit now lasting less than 16 minutes, it’s easy to see how we are not making an impact in helping people stay healthy.
The fact is that unless we coach our patients on what it means to eat healthy, sleep healthy, move healthy and feel healthy most of them will never accomplish any type of meaningful change. Our health care system is focused on waiting for disease to develop and then to “manage” problems with disease mitigation (usually a pill) and not cure. I have seen hundreds of patients who are going to develop diabetes in the next 10 years who were told “your blood sugar is a little high, but there is nothing to worry about yet”. That is like telling a pilot of an airplane that the engine will probably fail during the flight but everything should be fine for the takeoff. Would you fly on that airplane?
My patients will spend more time thinking about their health than waiting for funerals processions because I am committed to helping them do so. My passion is to make sure those I serve get the time, education and motivation that they seek to create a healthy and beautiful life. If this sounds like something you have been searching for I invite you to pull off the side of the road and move towards creating a better life for yourself now. You only live once, make sure you do it right!