As time goes on, I wonder if experience actually makes a person smarter. This is especially true of how we navigate our health issues. When we have pain that gets worse, or we can’t explain, we’ll see our Doctor and presumably obtain a referral for treatment or consultation, medication or just sound advice.
In this day and age, though, we may have already gone to the internet to triage for ourselves and ended up self-treating or totally confused. “Maybe this is more serious than I thought”, is a common conclusion.
No matter how complex or simple your situation, you have to manage it yourself. In an emergency, you hope that everyone looking after you is well-trained and competent. Once you’re not critical though you still have to take the medication, do the therapy and get your life back.
I see this every day in my own practice and am often taken aback by how unprepared and in need of counsel some people are. For instance, a person with Rheumatoid or even Osteo Arthritis is most often compliant, listens attentively, accepts treatment hopefully and recognizes the value and importance of their appliances or aids to daily living.
On the other hand, with a Neuropathic Diabetic, I want a primary caregiver in the room at all times to help reinforce anything I have to get across. That’s just the way it is. If they don’t feel it doesn’t have as much importance.
Most often, though, problems such as Plantar Fasciitis or Metatarsalgia, which are actually easier to deal with, require a disproportionate amount of explanation. This is usually because the person is thoroughly contaminated either by Dr. Google or divergent opinions.
Your pain is unique. You can’t compare your symptoms or your path through them with any of your fellow sufferers. Age, fitness, pain threshold, activity level, occupation, BMI and a host of connected events make each case different. When I am doing history and I ask a person about other pain areas, in half the cases the person will say something like: “Well, I have a pain on the inside of my right knee, but it’s not connected to the problem with my left foot”.
I have this insightful and pretty smart friend who has told me: “The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know anything”. I appreciate the irony, but one thing for certain is that everything is connected, and there’s nothing more satisfying than helping someone with Plantar Fasciitis and solving the knee problem, too.
So, listen up. If you are over 60, you should be thankful you have made it this far. Whatever your age, you should honor your elders and see that they have set an example for what you may become. You have to train to get old and that includes sleeping, eating and activity. Much of your health may be predicated on genetics but there is a case for the triumph of aerobics over DNA.
As for the road ahead; beware of potholes.