Why I'm a Doctor's Worst Nightmare And How You Can Learn From My Mistakes
What is a doctor's worst nightmare? The dreaded non-compliant patient.
No doctor wants to be willfully ignored. No doc wants his or her patients to spurn their professional advice. No physician wants to help a patient and then watch the patient do exactly what they are NOT supposed to do.
True confession: I am a non-compliant patient.
Last fall I spent a crap ton of money to see a holistic doctor. My main complaints were worsening arthritis in my knees and hands, the dreaded flab around the middle that would not go away despite my best efforts and, the story of my life, digestive woes. In a nutshell, despite being active and believing I was eating well, I did not feel well.
None of my visits were reimbursed by my insurance, and I paid out-of-pocket for the many blood tests I endured. But I cheerfully paid. My health is priceless, right?
The bad news.
Ms. Holistic Doc diagnosed me with leaky gut, Vitamin D deficiency, high cortisol, adrenal overactivity, thyroid issues, a couple other minor medical issues I don't fully understand, and a partridge in a pear tree.
She prescribed handfuls of supplements (well, eight) and told me no wheat (I'm already gluten free), no dairy and no sugar. And, worst of all, I was advised to increase veggies and get at LEAST eight hours sleep. Are you kidding??
Still, I was rarin' to go out of the gate!
The first few weeks I was compliant and highly motivated. My first major focus was eliminating sugar and I began my No Sugar January challenge on this blog. And I must say I rocked that challenge. But as early as January I would occasionally "forget" to take my supplements. And I totally defied the no dairy suggestion. Perhaps I was beginning to suffer from a lack of motivation so long after my doctor's initial advice.
Come February I started adding sugar back into my diet. Not tons, but probably more than I should. I told myself it was OK because I wasn't gaining weight. Well, girlfriend, my weight was not on my list of concerns. Remember arthritis, inflammation, high cortisol, leaky gut??
My failures will teach me not to judge others.
I don't know HOW many times I have to learn thou shall not judge others. I don't think of myself as a judgmental person. Until someone asks me how I lost weight. I am happy to share my story and always am amazed when folks don't follow my simple suggestions. Losing weight is hard work, but if I can do it anyone can. Right?
Today I realized I am a hypocrite!
How on earth can I expect others to follow my kind and well-meaning advice, when I don't do the same? Why should anyone listen to me when I refuse to listen to my own doctor? It's not as if I disagree with the doctor. I think her advice is sound.
Today I once again had the news flash that I am human. I am just like anyone struggling to do something that is hard. Giving up sugar can sometimes suck. As for no dairy? Well that is a hell that I'm not quite willing to tackle - yet. I'll work on the supplements and sleep first. Uh huh.
See how the brain operates?
I am like a two year old having a temper tantrum. Except I don't scream and throw myself on the floor. (I'd consider it but I don't think my bad knees are up for the challenge.) I am having an adult hissy fit, if only in my own brain. Often I am totally unaware of my rebelliousness. My doctor gave me suggestions and I am refusing to follow them. But wait - I forgot to take supplements or plan my meals or couldn't remember my eating guidelines. Even I have to call my excuses bullsh*t haha.
Let's look on the bright side. These mistakes can HELP me - and YOU.
I am not Sally Sunshine or Polly Positivity by any means, but being aware of my mistakes gives me knowledge. I can choose to own the problem and take action or choose to ignore it. It's up to me. Of course I'm an idiot if I blow off my doc's suggestions, but it is my decision.
Here are 5 ways my mistakes can help both of us:
1. We can learn from our mistakes. How did I manage to forget? Do I need to calendar every Sunday as "fill the pill box Sunday"? I rocked Sugar Free January. Do I need to continue with the same principles? Do I need daily motivation? An accountability buddy?
Is there a happy mistake you have made? What is the lesson?
2. We can brainstorm ways to be compliant that fit our lifestyles and suit our personal tastes. Yes, the veggie thing is a problem. Leaky gut means that I don't digest some foods well (legumes or cauliflower, anyone?). But perhaps I can make a green smoothie every morning for breakfast. Or choose more fresh fruit. Perhaps I need to follow the blog of someone who eats a similar diet for motivation and encouragement.
The sleep thing? I can't imagine getting eight hours a night. I am a night person and I love when the house is peaceful. But maybe I start adding 15 minutes of sleep everyday for a week. Then maybe 30 the next week. (Or 20!)
Is there a health or fitness behavior you would like to adopt? Certain foods you would like to eat, or like to avoid? How can you make these changes without disrupting your lifestyle? How can you make the changes pleasant?
3. Armed with knowledge we can make a plan. How will I remember to take all eight herbs and pills multiple times per day? How will I plan my meals to meet my doc's dietary recommendations? I know how to rock a menu plan. I just need to DO it.
Ah yes, a plan. Write down your plan - in agonizing detail if necessary. Keep it posted and in your sight AT ALL TIMES. For more help with this, see my post Keep Your Goals in Plain Sight.
4. We can analyze our progress. I always like looking at data, hence my printable diet and fitness planners have space for weight and measurements. I can create a chart or database to check off my healthy habits. I love having a visual to see at a glance how I'm doing. (I feel a printable coming on here - stay tuned!)
Closely related to having a plan, is analyzing your data. How are you doing? Are you eating your veggies? Are you working out four times per week? Are you practicing yoga? Spending time relaxing?? A weekly review of your goals and progress is a splendid idea!
5. We can share our lessons learned. This is probably the least valuable because I truly believe that the best lessons are ones we have learned on our own. Sometimes they may be tough and cause great emotional pain, but we survive, learn from the experience, and become a stronger person because of it. I hope that sharing my experiences might be encouraging to others, but the lessons I learn are priceless to me.
Be a quiet inspiration to someone. Live a healthy lifestyle and others will notice. Share what you are doing if they ask. Look for the lesson with every frustration and failure. Learn from mistakes and share your wisdom with others.
So what's next?
Tonight I will pull out the materials my doc gave me and review my plan. I'll fill my impressively large pill box with those crazy supplements. I'll set reminders on my phone to pop those pills. And by gosh I think I'll make a green smoothie!