My physical was last December. I dutifully followed up with the blood work, and a couple of weeks later got a little pink card in the mail. For the first time in my life, my triglycerides were just above the target range. A handwritten note said, “Triglycerides up. Patient should reduce calorie intake and increase exercise.”
Okay, I get it. But first of all, I am not “Patient.” I have a name, and the person who wrote these words managed to find it for the outside of the card. Why not a more personal approach on the interior?
Second, and more important, this person did not know me. She did not know that:
• 20 years of chronic foot pain had culminated earlier that year, leaving me rolling around my house in a desk chair.
• The latest treatment for this pain included being in a walking cast for several months of that year, limiting mobility.
• Another new treatment involved a medication known to cause weight gain.
• My husband had been out of work for three years and I was working two jobs to keep the household afloat.
• My son with an autism spectrum disorder was not having a good year.
Neither did this person know that:
• I was taking particular care with my spiritual health because I know that body and spirit work together.
• I have a circle of rich, sustaining relationships.
• I found great joy in the fact that my fiction was starting to take off.
• I have become what I call an “accidental vegetarian,” not because I object to meat but because I enjoy an array of colorful vegetables every day.
• Despite my pain issues, I went to the gym four days a week and walked regularly in the neighborhood as I was able.
I felt reduced. To a couple of numbers on a pink card. Obviously that note from a stranger was going to motivate me to just shape right up and quick slacking off about my health. Oh sure.
Can anyone identify?
I made some changes to medication and made a sincere effort to change up my exercise routine. I’m not trying to blow off responsibility for participating in my own health care. But the numbers on that pink card don’t define me.
I mean no offense to anyone who works in health care. The person who wrote that card no doubt did just as she had been trained to do. But I’d like to think we can do better.
I wish medical staff and patients could learn to have conversations about whole-life health. I wish we could learn to treat people as more than a set of numbers we don’t have to look in the eye. I wish we could understand that the answers are not one-size-fits-all and they don’t come out of a chart in a textbook.
Most of all, I wish we could see ourselves and each other as the beloved children of God that we are—and then help each other walk in the wholeness God designed us to relish.
What do you wish for?