Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

The Right Attitude Can Save Your Life

Day in, day out, it’s like a broken record. Patient comes in with uncontrolled diabetes. Patient gets sick. Patient gets patched up. Patient could care less about their health. Patient goes home to live another day, before coming back in a month. Everyday you just accept the reality of reckless self destruction, do your best to help them while they pretend to care and then send them on their way.

Except when a patient actually shows some interest in their health. Let me give you an example. I was asked to consult on a woman with shortness of breath, unbearable heartburn, aches and pains, low energy and sleep apnea. This woman weighed close to 400 pounds. Her husband was close to that as well. Together I sat them down and talked to them for darn near an hour. We talked about all the complications that come with folks in their age group. I asked them if they had a plan for success. What their motivations were. What their goals and expectations were.
They talked about how their exercise regimen. When I tried to pin down exactly what they were doing and how much and how often, it turns out that the twice a week walk around the lake was their idea of trying. They swore up and down about the their appropriate food choices, until they admitted that their biggest problem was not what they eat, but how much they eat. For an hour I heard about how hard it was. About how frustrating it was not to see any success. About how life wasn’t fair.
And then I met their polar opposites. A man and his wife both pushing 300 pounds. He was admitted with cellulitis of the leg. But both had lost a combined 220 pounds in just seven months. I was floored. 220 pounds? That put the biggest smile in the world on my face that day. I congratulated them probably 20 times.
I asked them, “I have so many patients who just can’t find a way to lose weight. How and why did you do it?” The answer was exactly what I expected.

“We had to. We were always tired. I was always hurting. I could barely walk. My wife could barely move. We considered gastric bypass but they wouldn’t do it without first doing six months of diet and exercise. Now I’m not even considering surgery. We went through our cupboards and we got rid of all processed foods. We eat healthy. We control our portions.”

Their motivation was their own. They realized they didn’t want to live their current reality. They took the initiative to make positive change in their lives and were basking in the glory of their success. What was the difference between these two couples? It was their attitude. One couple chose to make excuses for their plight. The other was doing something about it.

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles