Everyone has a friend or perhaps personal experience of the common perception among patients and laypeople regarding their health – “If we get sick, it’s a temporary inconvenience that the doctors will remedy”. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you fall ill from one of over ten thousand conditions and if your condition is serious, you have a 95% chance you will die from the condition. Bet you didn’t know that, did you.
Among the 10k diseases and conditions we can describe, we are able to treat about 500. Do the math, and if those figures haven’t got you paying attention yet, it gets worse. For many of those lucky enough to contract a treatable disease or condition, the emphasis is on the word “treatable”. Only a few can really be cured, with no permanent side effects. Most patients win themselves a life time date with a pile of pills to manage whatever ails them.
This article will outline why your health is possibly your most valuable asset and why taking it for granted, as most do, until serious illness strikes, is incredibly short sighted.
Belief in Medicine
Believe in your doctor, his abilities and the medicine you are fed and you’re a few miles further down the road to getting better. It’s a placebo effect, a powerful and important tool in every doctor’s toolkit for dealing with disease. We look to healthcare professionals not only for healing but for hope. Visit a doctor because you feel you’re dying from a serious bout of influenza and five minutes after stepping out of the consult, you feel magically better.
We tell ourselves we are going to live, nothing serious surely, or the doctor would have told us, so everything is A-Okay. You pat the prescription in your pocket, for an antibiotic you insisted on, grin, and head off to the nearest pharmacy. All of this is a fallacy, one you’ve been conditioned to create over generations, a fallacy created by medicine, pharma and healthcare in general.
The reality of your doctor’s visit is vastly different from the feel-good play you’ve just participated in. Your influenza has no cure. It is a virus, one we cannot medicate against, and the antibiotic you’ve just bullied out of the doctor is simply going to increase your resistance to antibiotics. You won’t finish the course of tablets. Next year, when your influenza spreads to your lungs and infection sets in, you’re far more likely to die from an antibiotic-resistant infection. Your doctor knows full well but still prescribes the pills. He doesn’t have half an hour to educate you about this and needs to see the next patient—bills to pay, etc.
There are a multitude of potential diseases and conditions we develop as a direct result of poor life choices, poor diet, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, the list goes on and on. Damage your kidneys, and there is no fixing them. Dialysis awaits, and eventually, if you are lucky, a kidney transplant, all followed by a seriously advanced, early death. Liver, same story. Lungs don’t repair or heal themselves. Damage is permanent and often crippling to your life. Ask anyone with COPD.
Most of our organs can be treated, extending the life of the patient, but very rarely improving quality of life, which spirals downwards towards the unpleasant conclusion of an early death. Feeling depressed yet? Good.
Changing your health outcomes
We are warned continually about the dangers of our vices, cigarettes causing cancer, arterial sclerosis – hardening of the arteries, alcohol messing up our livers and kidneys, high fat diets clogging our arteries and the wisdom of adopting a health lifestyle. Then, almost as if to counteract the message, we perpetuate the lie of healthcare and it’s ability to cure and heal any damage we have inflicted. This is a lie.
Fortunately, health, or a reduction of the risk of developing serious health issues, is within all our grasps. Simple regimes of regular exercise (even walking 30 minutes a day is sufficient) and a reduction of processed food, alcohol and smoking will extend your life expectancy. Obesity is the biggest enemy of health. Even an extra ten kilograms on a small frame can seriously impact your health. It isn’t as much about the extra weight, but about the lifestyle that has allowed you to arrive at this point. The why, where and how that led you to pack on those extra pounds.
Develop diabetes and you cannot be cured, simply managed. Your life from this point onwards is going to consist of expensive medication (insulin in the US is not price controlled) that you will require for the rest of your shortened lifespan, and as a diabetic you will be more prone to a range of other conditions, including heart, circulatory and other disorders that will eventually kill you. All because of an unhealthy relationship with food. Covid deaths were disproportionally high among obese diabetics.
Food is solely responsible for obesity. Unless you suffer from a rare medical condition, you cannot become obese on a restricted diet. Cheap processed foods are not your friend and while families living in poverty associate the ability to eat copious amounts of food from cheap retail outlets with living the good life, you are in fact killing both yourself and your family, assigning all of you to an early death and medical conditions that you will not miraculously be saved from.
Your health is the most precious thing you possess and the thing you are most likely to take for granted. Only when disease strikes do we look back with regret at our lifestyle choices, often too late. It doesn’t have to be this way. Parents especially, need to be aware of the dangers of obesity in their children and condition them at an early age to value their health. They will live long, healthy lives and enshrine the same values in their children.
Financially, and from a longevity perspective, we all want to enjoy our lives. We need to be healthy to really reap the benefits of that life. Start today, start small, but start, and you will never look back.