Thursday, July 06, 2006

You Worry Too Much

I think sometimes you worry about your health too much. The opposite argument "You don't worry/take care of your body enough" is definitely the more common phrase, by alot. While the more popular phrase certainly has its merits, let me take some time today to illuminate what I've noticed alot. That is, that worrying alot can also get you into trouble.

Example 1: Fear Leads To Inaction

Any health practictioner will tell you that patients presenting with new health symptoms will often breathe a sigh of relief after hearing its diagnosis and prognosis. You know what phrase I'm talking about: "Whew, is that it? I was really afraid to come here today cuz I was expecting worst." You've probably thought it and maybe even said it aloud. Because of this fear, many people choose to avoid seeking the necessary treatment. The condition starts out small and festers into something that may ultimately have a big detriment to your health and lifestyle. All because of the fear of the unknown, afraid to hear the bad news. When in fact at the outset, there is no bad news to hear. But your fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In my practice as a chiropractor, I've see it many times. A new patient will come in with a self-diagnosis of something they deem incurable. After the initial exam, I sit them down and explain to their surprise what they have is usually much more benign than they anticipate. For example, the patient assumes its a blown disc while it's really nothing more than a moderate low back strain. They often times still have their reservations. So I explain what can be done to improve the condition before beginning the first treatment. They're usually convinced after the first few treatments, that the stabbing pain "miraculously" vastly diminished. Sometimes, if we're lucky, great relief comes after the first treatment. I am not by any means propping myself up as a specially gifted chiropractor. I didn't do anything special. I treated what was a fairly simple low back problem that the patient assumed to be a great medical puzzle.

The lesson? Don't be afraid of what you think you have. Just go and get it checked out, it often times isn't what you fear. But you wait and it just may get worse.

Example 2: Driving Your Healthcare Bill Up

Another common occurrence that comes to mind is when patients are convinced that something is terribly wrong. They will not rest until tests and more tests are done. It takes quite a bit of time before they're comfortable with your diagnosis. Aside from increasing your own bill, what is the downside? My fear is that those patients end up looking for those ethically challenged doctors who have no problem performing more tests simply to drive up your bill. That is a dangerous road to travel. I've wondered many times whether a new patient thought I was lazy by not performing more tests. I doubt they would think that if they knew how little extra work it takes to order or perform more tests with relation to the extra income. So sometimes, you think you've found a good doctor because he'll indulge your worries, but maybe, you just found someone willing to send you in circles doing unnecessary tests.


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