I probably see at least 5 patients every day who, for one reason or another, have to make significant life-style changes. Most of the time I just suggest life-style changes. I hate for people, even knowledgeable people like doctors, to tell me what to do. My clinic staff is always trying to tell me what to do; “Dr. B sign this, answer this call, see the patient in Room B next.” I like to tell them not to tell me what to do. We all get a big kick out of that for some reason.
My patients are no different. They hate to be told what to do. I get resistance from all sides; the 16 year old with an ACL tear. They hate to be told that they can’t play football this year. Or how about the 75 year old tennis player. They really hate to be told by a “youngster” like me what they can and cannot do.
But here’s what I am telling you to do. Start finding something fulfilling (in a cerebral way) to do, just in preparation for the day that you might possibly not be able to do the physical thing you find so fulfilling. And trust me when I tell you that day could be tomorrow.
That day can sneak up on you slowly in the form of arthritis. One day you can run miles for exercise. The next day you can only walk a couple of miles and then all of a sudden you can’t even walk your dog for exercise (honestly, he doesn’t mind).
That day can come upon you like a swarm of bees. You turn 40 and you get a little plantar fasciitis. Next thing you know you’ve developed the scourge of hip bursitis. And now you’re wondering if there is a “bursitis disease” because you’ve got it in your shoulders too. Pretty soon you’re aching all over and there’s just no point in trying to exercise because everything hurts.
And finally that day can come upon you in the wink of an eye. Karate, sky diving, motor vehicles. There’s an endless list of things which can put a quick end to your days of glorious, endorphin-releasing exercise.
Don’t slit your wrists. I’m not suggesting you quit these things cold turkey. Just be prepared. Find something else besides exercise, to make you happy. Read. Join a book club. Write. Learn to play the guitar. Learn a foreign language. Play cards.
Don’t stop exercising. You can pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time. Experience has shown me the lowest of lows, when patients can’t do the physical activities which sometimes are solely responsible for their well-being. It’s awful! For me and for them. They tend to want to kill the messenger. So be prepared. No time like the present to get started.