Blog

Focus

 

I’ve heard many times and in many forms the idea that what one focuses on will grow stronger.  I’ve heard it as a concept passed down from yogis as well as from a multitude of authors of personal development and inspirational books. It is an idea that I try to implement in my life as well. It really is a powerful idea, and one that holds a great deal of truth.

Allow me to borrow from Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect. He mentions that when you purchase a new car, it all of a sudden seems that so many people are driving the exact same vehicle. This was something that you had not noticed before. Well, it’s unlikely that thousands of people went out today and bought the same car you did.  What really happened is that you are now focused on the type of car you drive, so you see all of these identical vehicles that have always been there but that you had never noticed before.  I know that I can relate to that, and I’m sure that many people can as well.

Another story that illustrates this comes from my own life.  I meditate on a regular basis. In the warmer weather I like to sit on my meditation cushion outside.  However, it often seems that no matter what time of the day I decide to sit outside, there is always someone getting their lawn mowed or doing some other type of noisy outdoor work. A few weeks back people were blowing leaves nearby ( I am not very fond of leaf blowers) while I was sitting on my porch.  I decided to try to really focus on my breathing and not on the noise. It turned out that when I deeply concentrated on my breathing I did not hear the leaf blowers at all. I’ll admit that this was not easy to do do and something that I need to put a lot more work into, but it is definitely something that I want to improve upon.

I believe it is important for people to focus on the things in their lives that are most important to them and for which they are grateful.

Be your own Advocate

 

I believe that it can sometimes be difficult to go to the doctor. This may be somewhat more true for the non-medical person.  The doctor-patient relationship should have solid and open communication at its foundation.  The doctor should speak in language that is easily understood by the patient.  The patient should ensure that he has a clear understanding of all that is being said.  I think that writing your questions down beforehand and taking them with you is a great way to be sure that nothing is forgotten.  Having another person present, be it a friend or family member is definitely a big plus. There have been several instances in which my wife was with me at a doctor’s appointment and brought up really important questions that I had either forgotten or not even thought about.

There may be situations that arise in which you have certain concerns that the doctor does not seem to share.  If this is the case, please advocate for yourself.  Please ask your doctor to explain his difference of opinion, and make sure that you are comfortable with the reasoning. Us doctors are human beings, just like our patients.  Sometimes we may overlook things or perhaps not see them quite the way our patients do.  If you have reasonable concerns, then you might need to persevere a bit in your questioning. This dialogue should, of course, occur in a polite fashion. Over the years I have had a few patients whose symptoms at the time did not seem to represent anything serious. I was going to discharge them. The patients were young adults.  It was their mothers that were proactive and adamant when they said that they knew something was wrong with their child. I listened. I proceeded to investigate further and ended up uncovering serious medical issues that would have caused significant disability for my patients had I let them go home.  I listened.  That’s the most important thing I did. My patient’s families voiced their concerns and I listened. This open communication helped my patients tremendously.

Always keep an open communication with your doctor. Ask questions. Voice your concerns. Be your own advocate when you need to.

Self-Discipline

 

The obvious definition of self-discipline is to discipline oneself.  The Random House College Dictionary defines discipline as “training to act in accordance with rules” and “instruction and exercise designed to train to proper conduct or action”. This tells me that the formal definition of self-discipline must be training oneself to improve a specific behavior or skill.  I believe that this can be extrapolated out to mean training oneself to improve any aspect of life.

There are many attributes of good self-discipline.  These include proper motivation, patience, consistency and perseverance.  Breaking your final goal into lesser ones and taking small steps to successfully accomplish these can greatly help to increase your momentum and maintain motivation. This will ultimately translate into a greater ability to train, or discipline, yourself.

I believe that I am a disciplined person.  However, as I sit here at my computer trying to recall an impressive example of self-discipline to share, I am drawing a blank.  But now I realize that I do exercise self-discipline on a daily basis.  Take something simple-like flossing.  I floss every day. Many years back I didn’t floss at all. When I visited my dentist at that time, she advised me that I should floss to keep my teeth and gums healthy. I was adverse to the idea at the time so I asked her if I needed to floss all of my teeth.  She responded “No, you don’t.  You only have to floss the ones that you want to keep.”   I thus started developing the habit of daily flossing. I trained myself to incorporate it into my nighttime routine before brushing.  And I’ve been doing it ever since. That took self-discipline. I exercise and eat healthy on a consistent basis. I read on a regular basis to keep up with the advances that are occurring in my field. I want to keep myself well and always be able to improve myself. This takes self-discipline.

To become self-disciplined is often a slow process, but one that will enable us reap great rewards.

Add Value

 

Working as a doctor in the Emergency Room is often very challenging. Most days are incredibly hectic.  I’m sure that most clinicians that staff an ER find themselves in a near constant state of both physical and mental activity for the entire duration of their shift-myself included.  I find myself running around for 12 hours and filling multiple roles.  These include clinical detective, social worker, patient advocate and teacher. We get to put band-aids on wounds, re-align broken bones, care for people who have been involved in car accidents and act as part of a team to help save a person who is having a heart attack.

It is rewarding to know that I helped improve or even save someone’s life because of the knowledge and skills that I possess. I also find it rewarding to know that I have established a connection with a person and family.  Placing medicine aside, just the thought that I was able to reach out and help another human being is a wonderful thing.

A few weeks ago I took care of a young old girl with a broken wrist.  I had to administer medicines to put her into a relaxed state, after which I manipulated her arm to reduce the fracture. Her mother wished to stay in the room during the procedure, and I knew that this helped alleviate her fears.  When the child woke up she felt better.  Her mom put on a smile of relief.  This was more satisfying to me than the actual fracture reduction.

I believe that no matter what path we choose in life that we should strive to be as good as we can be.  And I believe that we should always do our absolute best to sincerely help improve and add value to another person’s life in some way.

Mediterranean Diet

 

The Mediterranean diet is filled with fruits, vegetables, olive oils, nuts, beans and fish. It also includes less red and more white meats.  I’ve heard a lot regarding the health benefits of such a diet.  However, I was unaware that there is actually solid scientific evidence supporting the Mediterranean diet as a lifesaving intervention.  This is demonstrated in the Lyon Diet Heart Study. It examined people who had already suffered a heart attack, and found that following a Mediterranean diet reduced subsequent heart attacks and deaths.

In April of this year, an article published in Emergency Physicians Monthly presented data revealing that the number of people that need to be on a Mediterranean diet for five years to prevent one death from heart disease is 30. Compare this to 100, which is the number of people that need to be on a cholesterol lowering statin drug for five years to achieve the same thing. Thus, this diet is at least three times more effective than a statin drug at preventing a heart disease related death. And that is without any medication side effects.  Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

So, enjoy a mouthwatering Mediterranean diet.  It is as good for your heart as it is for your palate. It really can be a delectable eating experience.

Prevention

 

I graduated from medical school in 1998.  I can recall many of the courses that were part of the curriculum.  I can also remember, in general terms, many of the ideas that were passed on from our instructors to us.  We learned a great deal on numerous subjects, including anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology. During our final two years we participated in our clinical rotations, during which we applied much of our newfound knowledge.  I was truly fascinated by all of this.

Graduation was followed by residency, where I spent four years as a doctor in training. Then in July of 2002 I started my first “real job” as an attending physician. As a practitioner of conventional medicine, I adhere to the dogmas and concepts that were taught to me as a medical student and that I continue to learn from contemporary medical literature. I know first-hand that many of the treatments offered by conventional medicine can be life-saving interventions.

However, I appreciate the fact that there is another vast body of knowledge related to health and wellness that many modern-day physicians are not aware of. There is so much that people can do to maintain health and prevent illness. With the countless new pharmaceuticals and advances in medical technology that are being developed, it can be almost effortless to abandon any efforts at prevention and just depend on modern medicine to address the problem once it arises. My feeling is that efforts geared towards true prevention and not just disease screening (healthy lifestyle vs. regular colonoscopies) are slowly going to become much more mainstream. Although doctors will be there when needed, it is the individual that must actively participate in maintaining health and wellness.  Remember the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”