Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Medice, Cure te Ipsum!

I could tell at a glance that my patient had lost weight. He was heavy to begin with which made the difference in his appearance more dramatic, plus his pants displayed that the general theory of relativity was not an idle daydream cooked up by a bored patent officer. The sagging trousers had succumbed to the alluring pull of gravity as he hopped up on the exam table. I examined him and saw that his feeding tube was in proper position.

"Your pants are too big for you! Are you using your jejunostomy?" I asked. He replied that he wasn't, which seemed to explain the lighter version of him that sidled into the office that day.

"You need to keep up your good nutrition," I said. "If you feed yourself regularly you'll help the cause. I need you to take care of yourself just as much I take care of you."

He pledged to restart his liquid meals and joked with me as he gathered his newspaper. I followed him out into the hallway where he turned to me with a grin and said, "So I take care of me and you take care of me, but who takes care of you?"

I laughed at the remark but then stopped in mid-chuckle as if I was a cartoon character who had walked off a cliff and just realized it. I stared at the wall like a mounted fish, and began to consider his question.

Yes, who does take of doctors? Do we just assume that doctors are infallible, that they are immune from illness, stress, pain or depression? Of course not - so where do physicians go to refuel themselves, to rekindle the fire that drives them to serve those who struggle against misery and infirmity?

Much has been written about the impaired physician, the definition of which centers around aging, illness and alcohol or substance abuse. Many resources are available to care for them, but what of the vast majority of doctors who are not sidelined by such problems? Who looks after the "normal" doctors, who toil year after year with little recognition of their work? How do they keep themselves fresh and interested in their career, let alone life? Who is their caregiver? The traditional sources of support for workers - family, friends, colleagues, faith - are certainly important in fulfilling the lives of doctors, but is that it? Is there anyone else (short of a visit from God) who is willing to help protect, nurture and defend us? Where is the fons et origo of our strength, wisdom and fortitude?

Perhaps this is a subject for debate. If so, let me fire off the first affirmation: Who takes care of doctors? Doctors take care of themselves.

The happiest doctors, in my opinion, are those who work side by side with a wonderful partner - a partner who listens to their concerns, provides them with wise counsel, helps them relax in times of stress, flashes a bright sense of humor, and always makes sure that they find the way back home. That partner is themselves.

Doctors are proud people to begin with and if they also are smart they will form a bond of respect with this noble healer who works so hard, so that there will always be someone around to monitor for stress, discouragement and laziness, someone who will whisper in their ear:

"Eat healthy...go work a crossword a book and read to your your parents...get some sleep..."

As my patient left the office I thought once more of his query and smiled. The prime objective of patients when they hire physicians is to make sure they are doing everything possible to bring about healing. The best doctors are those who not only strive to heal patients, but who also take the same advice they dispense daily. They work in pairs with their better halves - their values.


At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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That's OK, you need to have days like this, otherwise how would you know when you are happy. You need to have something to contrast your happiness with. What is black without white?

Even though you know that sadness (speech anxiety) is a part of life, let's try to make it a small part of life.

With that said, here are a few tips to help you feel better when you are feeling down in the dumps. They are easy to do, easy to practice every day and they work!

1. Stand up straight, sit up straight. When your body is in alignment your energy can flow and when your energy is flowing freely, you can flow.

2. Smile! Yes, just smile. Easy to do and effective.

3. Repeat positive affirmations. Things like "I feel good", "Positive energy flows through my body", "I see the good in all".

4. Listen to some music that you like. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something you enjoy. Certain types of music work better than others, but experiment and see what works for you. Studies have shown that Classical music and new age music work best.

5. Take some time out for yourself, relax and read a book, do something for yourself.

6. Meditate. Meditation is an excellent habit to develop. It will serve you in all that you do. If you are one who has a hard time sitting still, then try some special meditation CDs that coax your brain into the meditative state. Just search for "Meditation music" on Google or Yahoo and explore.

Our outside work is simply a reflection of our inside world. Remember there is no reality just your perception of it. Use this truth to your advantage. Whenever you are sad, realize that it is all in your mind and you do have the power to change your perception.

These tips will lift you up when you are down, but don't just use them when you are sad or speech anxiety . Try and practice them everyday, make them a habit. You will be surprised at how these simple exercises will keep the rainy days away.

On a final note, if you are in a deep depression that you can't seem to shake, please go see a doctor. This is your life and don't take any chances. speech anxiety

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