Resolutions I desire for my patients

Published 8:07 pm Friday, January 8, 2010

My calling as a physician leads me to continually make the effort to render to my patients the best care possible.

To do that, I must maintain my resolve to read and study, to take time to listen during patient visits, to act with speed when the condition demands it, and to employ persistence in helping to guide patients through their challenges when that is the more appropriate route.

These resolutions do not change for me.

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As time has gone by, I have observed many things. I have seen positive lifestyles that maximize potentials and negative lifestyles that jeopardize futures.

I have come up with many resolves that I would wish for my patients to adopt. Here is a sampling:

1. Resolve to exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. You knew an exercise resolution was coming, so I thought I would get it out of the way first. This amount of exercise I suggested is below the nationally recommended standard, so please feel free to do more; be more active, do more time per session, and do more sessions per week. If everyone could do just this minimum however, it would be great!

2. Resolve to limit anything you drink that is not water. Soft drinks have no nutritional value and should be avoided or limited. Soft drinks and tea are known bladder irritants and should be minimized for that reason alone. Coffee can irritate the bladder, stain the teeth, and add to anxiety and nervousness through the caffeine included. Alcoholic beverages are also a special threat for women. Besides the dangers of excess, i.e. drunk driving and/or alcoholism, there is a known danger to a developing fetus and an increased risk of breast cancer in women who consume more alcohol. OK, I’ll make an exception to this resolution to nothing but water. Good fluid choices include low fat milk or fruit juice, especially if it is calcium fortified orange juice. Otherwise, water sustains you!

3. Resolve to rededicate yourself to your relationships. We stay too busy! We don’t look into the eyes of the ones we love often enough. Take time to let those you value know how much you appreciate them. Life can be very lonely, don’t let caring slip away!

4. Resolve to spend more time developing your spiritual side. Throughout history there is evidence that man has felt life had a greater purpose than just day-to-day survival and reproduction. This has been interpreted many ways and has lead to many different systems of beliefs. Whatever your beliefs, we all tend to feel more at peace when we spend time quietly reflecting on the importance of our existence. To me, it is just unacceptable to think that all life is just the result of a series of accidents. My spiritual life and my beliefs provide me with a peace and a hope that sustains despite outward circumstances. That hope creates optimism and joy.

5. Resolve to prepare yourself for your visits to the doctor. If you have questions, write them down so that the anxiety of the moment doesn’t leave you questionless. Bring your medicines with you so that there will be no confusion. Don’t assume that the doctor will remember something unique about your past history or that of the family; he or she may need a reminder to coax the memory.

6. Resolve to share. If you have done research on the subject of your illness, let the physician know. Most physicians welcome your efforts at education. I just ask that you be concise with your information and not leave off volumes that you desire for me to read before your visit. Also realize that I will want you to do your research at reliable sites. So-called testimonial sites are rife on the Internet. These sites will lead you through stories of several individuals who have been helped in one way or another by the theme of the site. As physicians, we tend to be skeptical, and you should be as well, unless something is verified beyond select opinions.

7. Resolve to control your cell phone, not be controlled by it! This is a big one! It is my opinion that while the cell phone may be the greatest contributor to conversational volume; it also has the potential to impair one-on-one sharing and earnest communication. More is not always better! States are passing laws to forbid texting while driving. That should be a sign of how we are being overwhelmed by this technology. It was just a few years ago that it was unique that I was required to carry a special phone so that I would be available while I was on call. Now, I sit back and watch my patients hop left and right, jumping to grab their phones. I can only imagine how many potentially earnest conversations at home are interrupted by techno-jabber in a text message.

8. Resolve to cut off your cell phone when you enter the doctor’s office. OK, you can leave it on if you are expecting a call from Obama for a presidential appointment or if someone you know is hanging by seven fingers from a cliff. Really, if those are happening, just call and we will be glad to reschedule your visit. Your time with the doctor is limited and expensive, don’t waste it! I want to know what is happening with you and I want you to understand what I am thinking about your health and/or your condition and treatment. You can’t believe how many times I have been trying to educate or inform a patient when that phone goes off. The phone may be on “silent” to be considerate, but it still is very distracting. Most likely it will cause the patient to bend over to look in her bag to get the phone, “just to make sure who is calling me.” Sometimes she will even sit there and answer the phone to tell the person she can’t talk right now. By that time our communication has been totally disrupted beyond repair. Don’t jeopardize the expertise you are paying for!

My resolutions are suggestions for you to help maximize your health and your life. There are so many more that I could offer. You can come up with a list of your own, if you will just slow down and smell those roses. Speaking of smelling the roses, that is one of my most important resolutions!

Make 2010 a year of improvement in your health; spiritual, emotional and physical!