I recently heard a funny line while watching a sitcom. A couple was sitting at a table eating breakfast. When the wife said she was full and couldn’t eat anymore, she moved her plate to the center of the table. Before she took her hand off the plate the husband grabbed for the bacon left on the plate. As he began eating the bacon, his wife said to him:
“You know, it’s supposed to be a team effort with you and your cholesterol medication. It’s not a battle of you against the medication.”
This line, while very funny in the context of a couple finishing up breakfast, really made me think about the way we live. In America, we have access to some amazing medical innovation. We don’t worry about illness because we know that there will be something to help us if we need it. That something may be a surgery, a drug or a device. No matter what it is, we likely have access to it.
These innovations are a good thing, but they also have their faults. Just like the wife’s comment in the caf, we have stopped using these innovations as tools to help us live healthy. We no longer resort to these tools when we have a serious or unexpected problem. We use drugs, surgery and devices to combat our choices.
The choices we make are no longer seen as a problem. No matter how unhealthy the choices are, we know that there is a way for us to get fixed if we need it. Therefore, the responsibility is not ours. The responsibility is on the doctor to prescribe the right drug, the surgeon to perform the right procedure or for the company to invent the next device.
Rather than helping us live healthy, these things have allowed us to live as unhealthy as we want to because there really are no consequences for doing so. We can eat all the bacon we want because the medication we take is keeping our cholesterol in check. There is no reason for us to control our lifestyle if there is a safety net for us that will never fail.
There is a catch. The catch is that the safety net can only hold so much. If we are tight-rope walkers, there is only so much that the net can do…eventually. Each time we come crashing down, the net gets a bit weaker. We can continue to reinforce the net by adding more material and building a more supportive structure. We can even replace the net now.
Logic would tell us that the safety net was there as a last resort. As a tight-rope walker, I want to gain skill and precision so that I can stay up and not need the net. I want to be better and better so that eventually, I don’t fall at all. If I do, it is rare and the net is there to help prevent the worst possible result.
Logic doesn’t always win. We are not using logic when it comes to walking the tight-rope of our lives. The net is being used as an everyday prevention rather than a last resort. In fact, many people are no longer trying to walk the rope at all. They are simply jumping off the rope and landing in the net. They keep jumping and the net keeps catching them.
This sounds like a fun process doesn’t it? What’s the harm in using the net? Many would say that is its purpose and there is nothing wrong with using it. It’s easier. It is possible when learning to walk the tight-rope feels too difficult. In other words, learning and improving are harder than just falling into the net. It feels easier to just let go and use the net, but what we don’t realize is that this can’t go on forever.
The net can only take so much. The repeated use and constant stress wears on the net. It weakens until it eventually breaks. Eventually, you have to learn to walk without falling. This is a challenge, especially if you feel that you can’t. Unfortunately, most of us feel that way.
This has caused us to fall back on drugs, surgery and devices to solve our problems. We caused the problem. We did it to ourselves and now we expect doctors to give us the tools to undo it. Rather than working together to live healthy, we are working against all of our technology. We are forcing doctors to find new procedures, companies to invent new formulas and new machines. We are doing everything we can to work against the things that are saving us.
We don’t need any of it. We don’t need to take a drug every day. We don’t need many surgeries. We don’t need all the medical devices out there. We just need to start helping in the process. This technology is great for those that need it. The fact is, you may have a condition that is out of your control. You may have gotten into an accident. That is a different story. Most of us are simply working against ourselves.
Just as the wife said that it should be a team effort, we need to partner or team up with our friends and family members and coworkers. We need to help each other live healthy. We need to stop being dependent on drugs. We need to start learning to walk the tight-rope without falling. We need to stop falling on purpose just because it is easy.
Action: how we team up to start working WITH the technology
– If you are a young and healthy person, think about what you will have to do to keep it that way. Think about your health and what it means to you. As you get older or get into certain habits, how will that affect your health? Making slight changes now is going to be easier and it will help you feel better now rather than creating a battle for you and your doctor years down the road. What’s scary is that many health issues are going to show up sooner than we think. It’s not always a long way off before things start to go wrong. We are creating our own health from the beginning.
Make a choice- It’s up to you. You still have a chance.
– If you are starting to see health issues and your doctor has mentioned medications, you need to weigh your options. Not all meds are bad, but as a society we are over-medicated. You have to decide if you really want to go down that road. Some medications are very difficult to get off of.
Know your affects- Do you know what these medications will do to you?
Know your options- Do you know what you can do instead of the drugs?
– If you have started taking a medication, talk to your doctor about what you need to do in order to do the following: stay at the same level, decrease or get off meds altogether. The medication will work for certain conditions. As you abuse your body and work against it, you will need to start taking more and more until the effectiveness is no longer there.
Go back to your options- How do you want it to work?
The moral of the story is that we have great access in America. We have access to new drugs every day. We have access to surgeries that are being discovered and re-mastered every day. We have access to technology from companies that are constantly researching and applying new ideas. On the whole, we have access to the best tools around.
This should make us the healthiest. This should mean that we are taking even better care of ourselves because we have so much knowledge. We are not taking care of ourselves. We are letting the technology overcome our abuse. We are working against all of these great resources and we are finding new ways to harm ourselves.
This doesn’t have to be the case. We also have more knowledge than ever. The first step is knowing. Once you know something, you are empowered to change it. That is where doing comes in. You have to take action in order to make any change. The first step in taking action is to team up with the resources around you. We all have access to data, people and support. We all have amazing ability to learn and grow. Health is nothing more than learning and growing habits in order to live the way we want to live.
That healthy life starts with a team effort. Technology is great if we use it to enhance rather than using it withstand abuse. You have to work with the technology not against it. Team up and together you can live healthier. No matter how much we innovate, we are the biggest innovation there is. The human body has an amazing ability to improve. That is why your lifestyle is still the biggest factor in your health.