On yesterday’s program Oprah had Dr. Oz to discuss what made news in medicine over the summer. The big story (pardon the pun) was the woman with the 140 lb. tumor. She lived outside of a metropolitan area and had been seeing her doctor for twenty years. She was putting on weight that the doctor wanted her to lose but it didn’t happen. Finally, after a couple of years they find that the weight is a tumor. It has to be removed surgically in pieces, kind of like the de-installment plan. The sad part of the story is that the tumor is malignant.
Dr. Oz tried without judgment to express his concern, at this point mainly to the viewership, that we’re all responsible for our own health. If this woman was trying but couldn’t lose weight and the doctor didn’t have any ideas, move on and get a different doctor. Many would argue that she didn’t want to know what was wrong and in the end it will probably result in her death. So what’s the take-away from the segment? They asked the woman what would she like to share and her response was get a second, third or fourth opinion if necessary, but don’t just sit back waiting for things to happen.
The truth is that economics and geography play big roles in our healthcare system. Underserved communities often lack the continuity of medical care with doctors rotating in and out. With gasoline at $4 a gallon traveling to urban centers may not be feasible, but the trade-off is possible death (of course I’m not talking about routine healthcare, but certainly when a specialist is needed or a diagnostician with cutting edge technology is required, find a way to get there).
We have to be more conscious about our bodies. It’s important that we become intimate with our bodies, not in a sexual way, but as if you are having a relationship with your body. You want to know every freckle, fold and mole. It’s also important to turn up the volume on your intuition. When you know something is wrong don’t stop asking the doctor to keep looking until you find a plausible and acceptable answer.
Don’t cut your life short by turning a blind eye to your body and your health. Don’t look at medical providers as adversaries, but as partners in your healthcare. Prevention is best, but if that’s not possible catching things early (before they weight 140 lbs.) will most likely save your life. What’s your life worth to you?