I am sitting at my computer contemplating what to write about in this week’s column. So many ideas are running through my mind: idiopathic pelvic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome. And then, it dawned on me. I can talk about specific conditions and how to care for them naturally, or perhaps, I should first address the issues surrounding preventive care, which I refer to as monitoring for health.
We live in a society that deals with crisis intervention, in almost all aspects of our lives. Take a moment and think about the crisis’ that you deal with on a regular basis. Just two weeks ago my eldest daughter, college bound, called me to tell me that her car was making terrible noises. I had my husband speak to her and he immediately instructed her to take the vehicle in for servicing; seems she had little to no brakes! We also found out that her car was making terrible noises for months. Had she told us about the noises when they first occurred my husband could have fixed the brakes for her. However we could not take the chance of her driving up to us with the potential of brake failure on I-25.
Many of you are probably smiling as you have college kids, and know of the dramatics that can go along with this age group. But it is not just our college kids who are dealing with life in crisis mode. Remember that pain you had in your lower back? Or the sudden onset of fatigue? Or the barking dog next door that was driving you crazy, but you didn’t know what to do? In the meantime you weren’t getting any sleep and you were irritable all day at work? I could go on, but I think you get the idea. We don’t often deal with issues until they become so intrusive that by then, the cost (not just monetary) takes its toll on our emotional and physical well-being.
A few days ago I went into the hospital to have the hardware taken out of my right ankle. Many of you may recall that last November I fell down the stairs in my home, and broke my right ankle in three places. I kept putting off having the surgery: mostly out of fear, but I also didn’t want the inconvenience of being limited in my mobility for four weeks, of the pain that it would cause in my lower back from my gait being off-balance, and the strain it would put on the family. So for two months I limped around in pain and discomfort from two screws that had become imbedded in my skin.
But nothing said above, can bring the issue of monitoring for health to home, as keenly as what I am about to share with you. Yesterday my husband received a phone call that a dear coworker had died of colon cancer. She was 51 years old. A woman full of life, full of promise, her life taken away from her in a blink of an eye. We hear about people dying of cancer all the time, but this case was particularly painful for both my husband and I. My husband, because he lost his father to colon cancer when he was 59 years old and ready to retire. For me, because I lost my sister, who was also young and full of life, within 6 months of being diagnosed with mixed connective tissue disease. This coworker was just diagnosed two months ago. The cancer had metastasized so quickly that the doctors could do nothing to help her. She spent the last week of her life in hospice.
I do not know if colon cancer ran in her family, if she had a history of colon problems, if she had any physical symptoms associated with her colon cancer. What I do know is this, if she had the recommended colonoscopy at 50 perhaps the cancer might have been found early. I know, many of you might be thinking, maybe the cancer wasn’t there a year ago. We will never know. But what we do know from much data, is that prevention is the key to living a long and healthy life. Consider: how many cancers could be cured, if found early; that the damage, resulting from many conditions, could be halted, such as alveoli diseases, or reversed, such as acute renal failure, if found early.
In my next column I will discuss ways in which you can monitor your health. In the meantime, don’t be a victim of crisis living. Take the time to practice prevention. Deal with issues when they arise, have a yearly physical, take time to take care of yourself. If you don’t do it, no one else will do it for you. You deserve longevity!