My Patients Save My Life

I ran in a 5k last weekend. It was my attempt to say healthy.

Peer pressure from my patients

I succumb to peer pressure.  The more my patients talked about running it, I decided I could be a runner too.

My patients describe their HIIT workouts (High-Intensity Interval Training for those of you not in the know), PiYo classes (Pilates-Yoga combination), and increasing mileage for an upcoming duathlon/triathlon/marathon. Now I can proudly share my measly 5k experience with them.

Of course, I’ll leave out the small details, like having to walk uphill out of breath while being passed by athletes double my age and weight and some carrying canes. Or the part about having an asthma attack because of improper preparation for the race.

I’ll post only the Facebook-shareable-worthy info- “I finished a 5K! Yay!” My friends can come to their own conclusions about my racing performance.

Everyone assumes that since I’m a doctor, I must be eating right and exercising at least 5 days/week, and enjoying every minute of it. Surely, all doctors follow the clot-preventing, anti-inflammatory, HDL-increasing, LDL-lowering, body fat-reducing, life-extending rituals that are recommended by the FDA (Federal Drug Association), AHA (American Heart Association), ACC (American College of Cardiology), JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association), NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program), *OREO (yummy sandwich cookie with creme filling), and *PBJ (peanut butter & jelly)!

My personal struggles

Here’s the truth. And I speak only for myself, a family doctor, mom, wife, and friend.

I, too, struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and finding the time in my day to exercise.

I, too, am sometimes just trying to make it hour to hour, day to day, week to week, through soccer carpool, dance practices, nightly dinners, grocery shopping, parent-teacher conferences, and home maintenance.  Not to mention traffic jams, homework with kids, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and needing sleep.

I understand. I am human too, but somehow, because I am a doctor, I feel that I not only need to know what’s healthy, I must promote what’s healthy, and live it too. Otherwise, I’d be a hypocrite, right?

Is that fair? I don’t think so, but I’m grateful for the automatic Super-ego that comes with my profession.

My patients save my life

In many ways, being a doctor has saved my life. Based on my family history, I seem pre-destined to have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s, but my profession has lowered my risks drastically. My loud Super-Ego screams “Yes, please” to healthy choices of grilled salmon over a bed of greens, hold the dressing, when my Id would instead do the talking and choose macaroons, French fries, pepperoni pizza with extra pepperoni and a few anchovies. (PMS).

I thank my patients who push themselves through their physical fatigue, mental stress, sleepless nights, carb cravings to meet their health goals. No, I wasn’t asking about your exercise habits to judge you! I admire your discipline and perseverance and need more of that in my life.

After putting kids to bed, I will do some planks and yoga. All I can do is keep trying, just like everyone else. I hope a X-Fit or Barre fanatic will be scheduled to see me tomorrow. I need some motivation!

*OREO and PBJ are not real medical organizations. They are food.

*a version of this article appeared in KevinMD,November 2017*

Patient Education: Cholesterol (CDC)



Christine Nedeau

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