{24/05/2012}   Looking after yourself

     Last night, in the queue of an over-heated Tesco Express, I shared “it’s too hot” sentiments with a woman next to me.  She looked hotter than me, very red, despite wearing a sleeveless dress.  She had massive scarring on one arm.  She told me that she had got out of hospital the day before after skin cancer treatment and had been told not to go in the sun, but being as hot as it was she couldn’t face covering up.  I wasn’t sure what to say, but it reminded me of so many people I have worried about who haven’t heeded advice about their health.

     I am guilty of this too.  I did a motorbike driving test (the CBT, one-day test) a few days after a general anaesthetic for the removal of four wisdom teeth.  Wearing a helmet wasn’t fun and general anaesthetics take a good few days to leave your system.   If a friend had told me they were going to do this, I would have been really worried and not wanted them to do it.  What is it?  Arrogance that we know our own body?  Stubbornness about not changing plans?  Worry about losing face and losing money?

The same applies to smokers or drinkers who are warned about the damage they are doing to themselves, but a lot of people don’t give up because of that advice or warning.  It’s horrible for those around them, it’s really difficult being around someone you perceive as being on a mission to self-destruct, because that’s kind of what it is.

What does it take to make people change their lifestyle or habits when they receive advice that what they are doing them is either killing them or making them more ill?  I knew a 40-year old man who was a smoker, beer drinker and long distance runner.  He had had a few heart scares and been told to give up all three.  He carried on, then one day died.  As I recall, the cause of death was unknown in that there were four heart issues that could have caused his death but it wasn’t certain which of the four got to him.  Is it about wanting to live your life as you love it, not wanting to change, or perhaps not wanting to ALLOW your ill health to make you change?

There is nothing more frustrating and upsetting than seeing people you love flaunt their unhealthy habits, not go to the doctor when there’s clearly something wrong or say they’re ok when they’re blatantly not.  Likewise, it is hard to change habits and address health problems.  But how ill do you have to be before you do make that choice to look after yourself?  How much worse does my RSI have to get before I accept that I am in the wrong job; when limited movement in my hands renders me unable to cook or type or write and basically do all the things I enjoy doing?  What will make the lady I met with skin cancer not go out in the sun unprotected, when already she has painful-looking scars from her treatment?  Prevention is better than suffering, right?


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