Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Lesson on How to Approach My Health From Watching Cesar Millan

I love watching Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. I watch and rewatch his shows frequently, fascinated by the impact our energy has on dogs. Over the years I've tried many of his ideas on our dogs with varied degrees of success.

While watching a repeat episode last week, I had an ah-ha moment about my own health. That's right, the advice he was giving this couple about their dog inspired me to reframe my thinking and my approach to discussions about my medical problems.

Here's what happened.
This couple had a dog who was terrified of almost everything, inside and outside. When Cesar was talking to them they kept saying how they were just so worried about him on walks because his fear was so bad that he would freak out and pull super hard - what if he broke free and was hit by a car or ran away... They said it wasn't a problem inside because he wasn't in danger of hurting himself or anyone else when inside, despite equally intense fear of objects, noises, etc.

Cesar responded that it was all a problem that needed to be dealt with because it was all connected. He needed help with his fearfulness both inside and out. Just because he isn't in danger inside, doesn't mean he isn't unbalanced and in need of help inside.

This is a theme I've seen many times over the years and had even seen watching this same episode before. But this time, I connected to it and discovered a flaw in my own approach to my health.

Here's how it relates to me.
When I'm at the doctor's office, often I will speak about what I see as the biggest problem at the moment. I will come in focused on that issue and then downplay the other things that relate to it. Likewise, I've chosen not to go into the doctor for what I think is a "small issue", letting that issue become much much worse and much much harder to deal with because it wasn't dealt with early on.

This is not the right way to look at my health and it is definitely not the right way to present my situation to a doctor. They need all that information and I deserve to have all my medical issues dealt with.

A lesson which seems particularly relevant right now as I'm presently on day 6 of couch rest because I ignored foot pain I was having all summer until it became extremely bad pain that I couldn't take anymore. What's worse, this isn't the first time I've found myself in a situation like this. I must stop this pattern of only giving attention to the squeakiest wheels.

In my own defense, sometimes it can be difficult for a person (like me) living with multiple chronic pain conditions to know the difference between pain associated with one of these conditions and pain caused by something else. I've long feared that one day I'll have a cardiac event, small stroke or brain bleed and not recognize or get help because I'm used to crazy symptoms.

Not to mention, it can be difficult to decide to go to the doctor. My doctor's office is about a 20 minute drive one way. Between the crazy bright lights, the hassle of paperwork, the stress of fighting my pain and brain fog to converse with the nurse and then the doctor, followed by more driving, going to the doctor's office is taxing and always triggers more pain. PLUS, I've had so much trouble getting into a relationship with a doctor. I finally found someone I liked and a few months later she was gone. I would feel more comfortable going in for "small issues" if I felt like I was in a mutually respectful and trustful relationship with my doctor.

Maybe I need to adopt a policy of going to the doctor whenever I have anything new come up. That might help me avoid getting into trouble. No matter what, if new symptoms appear, just go in.

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