an ounce of prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

As Covid flares across the country again, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the pandemic made possible…. And all the opportunities to change we didn’t take advantage of.

We’ve had more than three years to take the lessons to heart and improve our transportation, education, labor, and healthcare among other sectors. Have we really achieved anything?

And yet here we are in another election year—one that reminds me horrifically of 2016, when IMHO, both parties picked the wrong candidate to run.

I became an independent after 2016, and I keep hoping that a viable third-party candidate will appear because I am so sick of feeling like my vote is being held hostage.

healthcare hostage

Speaking of hostages, let’s take another look at healthcare!

I recently switched from per diem to part time at the medical center where I work because, with my husband living and working abroad, I needed employee benefits, specifically healthcare.

Great, I thought. I’ll have a primary care physician at my workplace. It’ll be easy to schedule appointments.

In the entire health system, there were no primary care general practitioners taking new patients. I was passed from one division to another, one department to another. No joy.

In September, I finally found a community health center that would take me as a new patient.

And I dutifully went off to my annual exam this month. Yes, I’d definitely put off getting some preventative tests, so I also dutifully tried to schedule a mammogram.

It’s January—and the first appointment I could get is in mid-July!

I’m sure if there were any concerns, I could have gotten a fast-tracked appointment. (I hope?). But seriously? July?!?

And don’t get me started on scheduling dentist appointments.

prevention blues

It’s no wonder that Americans wait so long to take care of their health issues. There’s little incentive to do so when the fastest way to get treatment is to have a health crisis.

In the coaching world, you’ll often hear that how you do one thing is how you do everything.

Taking the example of our approach to preventative healthcare, is it any wonder that we spend our lives putting out fires instead of focusing on fire prevention?

The positive side of all this? To misquote Smokey the Bear, only you can prevent health dumpster fires.

The power to focus on prevention is one we can reclaim as individuals. We don’t need to wait for the government, the state, the healthcare (read: disease care) system, baby Jesus, or the Universe to save us.

disease prevention

If you’ve followed my podcast from the beginning, you might recall a series I did early on called 5 Days of Mental Hygiene. You may also recall that the baby steps to health I preach are the smallest, most sustainable ones you can take: eat more veggies, drink more water, get more/better sleep, get out in nature….

I’ll probably jinx myself by saying this, but as I watch my coworkers succumb to colds, flus, Covid, and other nasty viruses, I feel like the last woman standing.

“What’s your secret?” is a question I often hear at the office.

And the answer is as simple as it is difficult: make the better choice 50% of the time.

  • Take a walk during your break instead of snacking and/or scrolling. Yes, even when it’s cold outside. Especially when it’s cold outside. Our immune systems thrive when we expose them to a variety of temperatures.
  • Stand more than you sit if you have a standing desk available to you.
  • Look up from your screen and stretch your back and neck a few times per hour.
  • Pack your lunch and snacks, and focus on plant-based foods. And treat yourself occasionally. The more nutrition you give yourself, the less you’ll rely on stimulants and the more energy you’ll have.
  • Hydrate or die. And hydrate appropriately for the season: cold drinks belong in the summer and even then in moderation; in cold weather, drink hot/warm beverages.
  • Wash your hands. A lot. Soap and hot water are plenty in most situations. And don’t touch your face.

And equally importantly, watch out for others.

  • If you’re sick, stay home. (I know, that’s a privilege—and there are many, many privileged people who don’t take advantage of that privilege.)
  • If you can’t stay home, mask up—we did it for months, and it didn’t kill us.
  • Clean and sanitize any shared spaces and equipment.

make the connection

True health care is not about the crises that are bound to come up. It’s about prevention—and our “healthcare” system is not about that. If you’re ready to take your health into your own hands, let’s talk. And if you’re looking to help your employees take charge of their health, let’s talk about that.