Getting “The Big Diagnosis”
The only thing worse than giving “The Big Diagnosis”, is getting “The Big Diagnosis”.
Let’s just stop for a moment and think about what it might feel like to be diagnosed with terminal cancer. How would you feel if you were told that “You have cancer and only six months left to live”?
How would that make you feel?
I hate to be so grim, but in order for us to really practice preventative medicine in our diet and lifestyles, we need to think about what we are indeed actually striving to prevent. We need to stay motivated.
What would it be like to suddenly drop over from a heart attack?
How would it feel to find out you have diabetes and have to give yourself a shot of insulin each and every day, with each and every meal for the rest of your life?
What if you had a stroke and woke up and only half of your body continued to work? What if it left you unable to speak? Unable to express yourself, unable to tell your family that you love them?
None of this stuff is fun to think about, but much of it is highly preventable for the most part.
Most younger people defend their bad diet and lifestyle choices with the declaration that “I don’t want to be old someday, so I don’t care if I die in my 50’s or 60’s”.
As much as such thinking may solve the Social Security problem here in America, it certainly is not doing much for our Sickcare System.
First of all, after spending nine years in health care, I just have to say that most people are not so lucky as to be taken out suddenly by a massive heart attack or stroke. These are less common occurrences.
Most preventable diseases tend to have an insidious course. You may not care about your future well being now, but imagine what it would be like to spend your golden years in a wheelchair. To no longer be able to drive your car. To be bed ridden. To feel like a burden on your family. To always be dependent on someone else to go to the bathroom or change your diapers. To be stashed away in some lonely corner of a nursing home with no one to talk to or visit you all day. What will it feel like to lose all your personal freedoms?
We all want to just pleasantly die of a pulmonary embolism in our sleep. That would be ideal.
Unfortunately it is not realistic.
In order to stay inspired to take care of yourself in a preventative manner, I suggest you think of yourself as three individual people. There is the “Today You”, the “Tomorrow You”, and the “Future You”.
Feel free to diagnose me with Multiple Personality Disorder, but in order to work my way through the rigors of medical school I started to refer to myself as “Today Nicole”, “Tomorrow Nicole”, and “Future Nicole”.
Nearly everything I did for eight years was for “Future Nicole”. I had to learn to tune out the wants of “Today Nicole” because otherwise “Tomorrow Nicole” would be left without food in the fridge, money in the bank, or gas in the car.
You see, “Today Nicole” is very lazy and self indulgent; she just wants to do what is best for right now.
Today Nicole doesn’t feel like exercising, she wants to watch TV in her sweat suit and eat McInflammation. Today Nicole wants to cross everything off her “To Do” list and deal with ALL responsibilities tomorrow. Today Nicole wants to bake under the hot summer sun. Today Nicole does not really care about malignant melanoma. Today Nicole hates grocery shopping. Once there, Today Nicole wants to buy frozen pizza and donut holes not fruits and vegetables. Today Nicole thinks it is fun to eat candy and drink Red Bull all day. At the end of a long day, Today Nicole wants to drive straight home and go to bed. Today Nicole is too tired to fill up the car with gas, she will put that burden off on Tomorrow Nicole.
Unfortunately Tomorrow Nicole is destined to become Today Nicole. Tomorrow Nicole is going to have a very bad day because she was forced to stop for gas which made her late for work. Tomorrow Nicole is going to have an irritable work day without breakfast or lunch. Tomorrow Nicole is going to be looking for some sort of unhealthy indulgence to cancel out the ills of her improperly planned day. Do you see how the vicious cycle of immediate gratification perpetuates?
I believe it is all about setting yourself up nice for later. Most everything I do right now is still for “Future Nicole”.
That may sound dismal and boring at first glance, but think about it… You want to avoid getting the “The Big Diagnosis” right? Well, doing so is not only going to set things up nice for later, but it is also going to make you FEEL GOOD today, tomorrow, and the next day. Preventing disease is as simple as taking a little bit of time out of your day to “buy groceries and fill the car with gas”. Preventing disease means having the forethought to eat your fruits and vegetables, drink pure clean water, order green tea instead of coffee, make the healthiest choice available, cut out fast food when possible, go to bed at a decent hour, keep a positive mental attitude, find abundant joy in the simple little things, and get some form of exercise each and every day.
The more we think about these things, the more they become a habit. Healthy habits form a healthy lifestyle. That lifestyle is the foundation to your future health. All you have to worry about are the little things. The rest is in God’s hands.
Certain genetics and environmental influences may occasionally confound our efforts to prevent disease. However, if or when I get “The Big Diagnosis” I want to at least be able to tell myself “You know what self? Well at least we did everything we could to prevent this from happening. Perhaps all our efforts even prolonged this from happening, or prevented additional suffering. Maybe all our efforts with diet and lifestyle even squeezed out a few extra golden years.”
Preventative Medicine is tough because we want it all now, with a side of ranch to dip it in. But someday “Today You” will inevitably be “Future You”. Hopefully it is a good day when the two finally meet.
What are your greatest fears around getting “The Big Diagnosis” and what are you doing to prevent them from occurring?
~ Dr. Nicole Sundene