I’ve often said that everyone has their own definition of fitness. For some it’s about being able to run a marathon and for others, it’s simply being able to stand up from a chair. Everyone has their own definition of health, too. For some it’s about being in the correct numbers zone at the doctor’s office, for others it’s about how they feel and what they do with their lives.
In her article, Healthy in a Falling Apart Sort of Way, Jane Brody writes about health from a medical perspective. She describes her personal medical conditions, past and present, and also describes the things she does to stay active. She goes on to describe how our definition of health has changed over the years, and how these days it might be determined by how well we can live independently and participate in society even with a chronic illness or disability.
In managing our various ailments, and in hoping to avoid additional ones, we’ve medicalized our health care, often to our own detriment. Ms Brody refers to Dr. Gilbert Welch (author of Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health) and his new book Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care. We assume certain things are true, such as it’s better to fix a condition than to manage it, and that it’s better to find something before the symptoms appear so we can deal with it, but the follow-on from much of this fixing and finding can do us more harm, turning “people into patients”. One of the comments about this article suggests that treatment to fix a condition often isn’t as effective as we hope because it doesn’t address the underlying cause and therefore more problems can occur.
In Bigger Picture, author Frank Forencich looks at the definition of health in a slightly different way when he asks, “Is there more to life than health?” I love this question! It speaks to the heart of why I call this blog Patients Are People, Too. Consider how much time people spend on making sure they’re eating right and getting lots of exercise (the right kind, of course!) as well as the countless hours spent at medical appointments in an effort to stay healthy. In the last paragraph Frank writes, “At some point we need to give our obsession a rest and move on to larger meanings. Everyone knows that exercise and a good diet will make us stronger; it’s what we do with that strength that counts.” Well said.
Patients Are People, Too!
I wonder sometimes if the stress of worrying about our health and staying healthy isn’t doing more harm than good. Isn’t it about time that we get back to living our lives and enjoying what we do with the people we care about?