Resolve to take better care of you

We all start out the new year with good intentions.  But those intentions tend to be large, overreaching goals and by this time we have fully given up.  Does that describe anyone you know?  We may have intended to lose 20 pounds start running 30 miles a week or save half of our paycheck.  It is not that goals are not good things, it is that we set ones that are too high and then give up when we feel like a failure.  Change comes in small increments.  For example, when you were a baby you did not get up one day and just walk across the floor.  First you had to develop eye and had coordination by reaching for items and successfully getting them to your mouth.  Slowly you learned how to use your stomach muscles by rolling over and eventually sitting for small periods of time.  You gradually learned how to pull yourself up to a stand and fell many times.  You crept along furniture to gain strength.  You held someone's hand to practice balance and eventually let go and took your first wobbly steps until you fell down.  You did this repeatedly as you gained confidence and kept trying.  This is what all change is like.  Even self care.  There are many almost imperceptible steps that take place first that are the essential building blocks that must take place first.  Many people dive in head first with out focusing on the preliminary baby steps and then feel discouraged and beaten down. The next time you resolve to change, break the task down into the tiniest components and spend time perfecting and celebrating those first.  Get those under your belt and then move onto the next.  Continue the process.  For example, hiring someone to come stay with your loved one.  First, get three good referrals from a trusted source and make the calls.  Then interview each agency.  Make a decision.  Or have a trial with each one.  Don't even leave the house.  Just sit and have a cup of tea and read a magazine.  Stay the first few times just to make sure you feel comfortable.  Eventually go down the block, even if you just sit in the car.  Over time you can go the library or store.  Change doesn't need to be drastic and bold.  It can be done in small increments which we find is more likely to stick and be successful.  Setting ourselves up to succeed is the best gift we can give ourselves.  And even if you had a New Year Resolution and three weeks in it feels as though it is another failure, there is no rule that says we cannot try again, using a new effective strategy.


Risks and benefits...

As a Researcher I have long been held to high standards of ensuring that people absolutely understand both the risks and the benefits from participation.  To that end, we can't even describe their being able to benefit from an unproven intervention.  I have had the personal experience of not getting that kind of explict information for myself and family members.  It is thought that we don't actually recall much of what is said in our doctor visits, and they do seem to often be brief.  We can do something about that part, bring a friend to help listen, take notes.  But how do we manage the information we are not given? We don't know what we don't know.  One strategy is to prepare questions ahead of time and give to the doctor the day before so he or she knows that you want to have a serious discussion.  Essentially what is important to know is the risks vs. the benefits and any side effects of the medication or procedure.  Perhaps it is human nature to expect the best, but I also like to prepare for the worst.  Recently my uncle underwent heart surgery at a prestigous Medical School affiliated hospital.  He has been in ICU for over two weeks and neither he nor my aunt expected this at all.  It has been difficult as they live two hours away from the hospital and she has been trying to go back and forth between home and hospital.  This may not have changed the decision but it would have perhaps enabled a plan ahead of time, instead of trying to figure out in the midst of crisis.  While there is the old saying "Doctor knows best" it is no longer simple.  There are a variety of choices and options available and your healthcare team should appreciate that you want to be an informed and prepared patient.  If you feel that you are bothering them please remember we work for you.  I would much rather work with a motivated person who wants information as that alone improves outcomes!  If you feel that you are not a part of your own team you should feel empowered to speak up.  If you still don't feel listened to or respected it may be time to become a free agent and find that team that will welcome you and work with you.