Hopefully we can agree that nothing in life is more important than good health. Many of us do not think about our health unless we do not feel well. We take health for granted until we get sick or receive the news from our doctor that we have one or even multiple chronic diseases. Once we get that news, a lot of us are shocked and in denial. We say, “I work out, I eat healthy, and I don’t smoke. Why me?”
The answer to the question “why you” is because like almost all of us, we have not made health a priority. We ask a lot of our bodies on a daily basis. We do not get enough sleep, we are sedentary, we drink lots of caffeine, and we eat unhealthy food. Over time these stressors add up and eventually make us sick. The human body is truly amazing to endure this treatment for years and decades, but like any machine, eventually it will break down. We in the healthcare industry are seeing peoples’ bodies starting to break down younger and younger, even patients in their 30’s. Unfortunately, chronic disease is on the rise and is affecting all of us. In 2019, pretty much everyone knows at least one person who has had a heart attack, a stroke, or cancer.
If you want to thrive and stay out of the hospital, YOU have to take ownership of your health. You cannot rely on the government, your health insurance, your local hospital, or even your physician whom is limited on the time they can spend with you. You have to take the initiative to get educated on your own. You have to do the research. When you see your doctor, you have to be prepared and ask the right questions. We have the greatest healthcare system in the world with the best doctors and nurses, but we aren’t getting the best outcomes.
In the hospital, patients that have had a major health scare or event are usually more open to changes in lifestyle. About six months ago, I visited a patient who had just had a major heart attack and had three stents put into his blood vessels. He was fortunate to be alive, in large thanks to getting him quickly to the hospital by emergency management, and the amazing expertise of our team of doctors and caregivers at the hospital. He was 48, worked out a lot and thought he was in great shape. With no family history he could not figure out why it happened to him. After we talked for a while we learned that we had a lot in common. Towards the end of the visit I asked him if he ate his fruits and vegetables? He said, of course! His 15 year old son sitting across the room said “no you don’t, you eat the occasional banana and some corn once in a while.” I suggested he focus on his diet, get educated, and take ownership of his health. I also said that he had to be ready and willing to make a change, but that he could do it. We parted ways and he was discharged the next day. About 5 months later I got a call from him. He called to thank me for motivating him to re-look at all the things he was doing to his body. He was a changed person. He had lost 20 pounds and got his blood pressure to a normal level. He said he adopted a whole food plant based diet. He stopped eating fast food and processed food, stopped drinking soda, had more energy, slept better, was a better employee at work, and a better husband and father. The point is when you focus on and prioritize your health, every part of your life can get better.
After being hospitalized for a life altering event, many patients are ready to do something different to get healthier. As a group, they know it is not fun to be in the hospital bed and they want to avoid coming back. They are usually willing to put in the time and work to change their lives. My recommendation to you is to take ownership of your health starting today. Ask your physician for some websites to do some research on disease or nutrition. Buy a book. Go to a healthy life center and ask some questions. Go to some medical lectures. Get educated on food and how certain foods affect your body. Prioritize keeping your body moving and getting restful sleep. Don’t wait until you end up in the hospital to make a life change, because by then it could be too late.
Article provided by: Joshua DeTillio, CEO of Palms West Hospital, holds a seat on the Board of Directors of the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Central Palm Beach County Medical Board of Governors. Click here to learn more about the Central Palm Beach County Medical Board of Governors.