Sue was an amazing nurse. Despite 20 years of experience, she maintained a style and workflow that brought unsurpassed comfort to her patients. Nearly every patient who was under her care during their hospital stay remarked about how incredible she was.
Nearly a year ago, Sue realized it was time to start considering a change in her lifestyle. She set out to change everything. She planned on retiring and venturing out to see the world. Like many, she slapped on a pair of sneakers one day and hit the road. That didn’t go too well.
With an ice pack bandaged to her knee, a latte sitting next to her, and a bottle of NSAIDs in her purse she met me in my office. Her knee was swollen, her muscles were weak, her BMI was 37 and her adventurous spirit was corrupting her mind thinking that her lifestyle changes might never actually materialize.
Her x-rays didn’t show anything too terribly wrong. And more important.. her exam did not reveal anything too worrisome.
When it came time to discuss her diagnosis and treatment plan, Sue understood that I felt that her knees were simply surprised by the sudden burst of activity. She understood that I anticipated that she would be able to return to pursuing an active lifestyle once we came up with an appropriate plan to do so. We reviewed potential changes to her diet, activities, sleep, and a realistic workout schedule. But she wasn’t convinced that further study wasn’t needed.
Like most patients, she wanted an MRI. Few people believe that we are capable of making an accurate assessment and plan without an MRI… so the request was logical.
It is far too easy to order an MRI. It’s certainly easier than having an in-depth discussion with patients about why the MRI wouldn’t change our treatment plan. I am also keenly aware that we are an over-diagnosed and over-treated population — so it is a discussion that I am more than happy to have. A quick fix is more often than not — not realistic, nor recommended.
Sue returned to see me nearly one year following her last visit. Fifty pounds lighter and now running nearly 3 miles a day she looked great — and felt great too. She came to thank me… and to let me know it was our conversation about diet, exercise, sleep, and forgetting about the need for high tech at our first encounter that enabled her to finally take control of her life.
After all… if you don’t have time to get yourself healthy — you had better prepare yourself to be sick.
We can make a difference.