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Health amnesia or human nature?

Posted By Jamie Page  
Recently I’ve had a pattern of similar patients. Differing ailments but the same conversation regarding what lead there. When this occurs I become curious. Patterns are rarely random and they always teach me important lessons in human behaviour. I also start to think that many others may be in the same position so writing up something could prove useful for those I haven’t seen in the clinic.
When I haven’t seen a patient for a while the optimist in me believes they are away in the world thriving and ‘living their best life.’ Yes, other options exist but I like to lean towards optimism. A successful patient for me is one where we resolve their issue but teach them more education around the issue; what caused it? How it was resolved? How to prevent it occurring again? What other health behaviours could help them?
As anyone who visits our clinic or reads our articles knows we are very interested in overall health and not just injured body parts. I’ll often use an injured body part as an opportunity to introduce potential improvements to diet, stress management, sleep and other lifestyle factors. It’s amazing how connected these can be to our injured body. Or how injury is just one issue within a long list of ongoing health problems. So when I see a patient I haven’t seen for a while I’m going to likely ask a few questions about these aspects of health. I want to know whether they are continuing all the good things we put together many years ago.
For the most part the patients I see try to take ownership of their current approach to health to varying degrees but the past few weeks have taught me a level of forgetful occurs over time. After listing all the same issues they had a few years back I’ll ask about some of the ideas that helped them the last time they were here. Luckily I take notes! The answers begin pretty confidently that they haven’t slipped into bad habits but I ask a few more questions just in case my patient isn’t the most accurate eye witness. Pretty soon the truth comes out and the realisation that maybe they aren’t living the Novak Djokovic version of themselves they had in mind.
I’ve had patients who worked out their arthritis was significantly improved by reducing grains realise they started having bread and Weet-Bix again a few months ago. “Why?” I ask. They literally have no idea.
Another patient who previously started their day off with doing a 4 minute yoga routine as it stopped all their morning stiffness. They would also walk 30 minutes each day too for stress management. “When did that stop?” I ask. They think maybe in winter as it was too cold. I kindly inform her it was 18 degrees this morning and winter has long gone.
The conversations from here mostly serve as reminders of what has worked for them in the past and problem solving the ways to bring habits back. I also like to remind people to check in and be more accountable when things do slip. I don’t want people to be obsessive with health but a little more of a conscious approach can never be bad thing. Maybe write down a few simple things you will try to do that week and if you are struggling with where to start, come and see us to help you put it together.
What I’m learning is that it’s human nature to slide a little into bad habits. We also become a bit forgetful over time for the things that helped us out in the past. Our biology and our health are usually trying to keep us in-line and the symptoms we have are just a request for change. Those out there ignoring those requests are making their lives harder and harder. Putting up with things may show a level of resilience but ultimately it’s not being smart with your health and eventually issues become impossible to ignore.