In zooming around healthcare settings, I’ve noticed that many people approach illness as a weakness or a betrayal of their body and mind. I’ve even noticed myself having a similar feeling occasionally when I must visit my own doctor. This way of thinking is like how I think about my car: I expect my car to get me from A to B every time I ask it to, with minimal effort on my part, and no upkeep.
To further outline the analogy between bodies/minds and cars:
- The hospital is to the body/mind as the auto shop is to a car after a crash. If something gets damaged, we usually must fix it to run again.
- The primary care setting is to the body/mind as an oil change, tire change, and alignment are to a car. For optimal performance, we must continuously do some upkeep and occasionally get a tune up.
As we examine the analogy between cars and bodies/minds there is an essential difference. If we have the money, we can buy a new car periodically to avoid all the upkeep that inevitably comes with the wear and tear of use. However, we each only get one body/mind and, therefore, not even money can spare us the required upkeep that comes with the wear and tear of life.
Considering that we each only get one body/mind and life is hard, I’d like to propose the viewpoint that going to a primary care provider isn’t a visit with the enemy. It’s not intended to be a place of judgement or punishment. Instead, think of primary care appointments as tune ups that include chatting with an expert on the human body/mind. In this chat, we can uncover what aspects of our body/mind are optimized, what aspects aren’t optimal, and how we each can make our body/mind run better. By optimizing our body/mind, we may prevent many diseases from occurring (prevention is better than treatment, why get sick if there’s a way to avoid it completely?).
In a similar fashion, no one wants to stay in the hospital, but needing the hospital isn’t unique; it’s part of the human experience in places where hospitals exist. Hospitals can save lives and fix big health problems. They might not be the most pleasant places, but without them we might not get the care we need to recover when things in our bodies/minds break. If we can think of our hospital care team as a bunch of people on our side who are looking out for our bodies/minds, it might make the whole experience a little better.
Just as we know our cars require a certain amount of upkeep, I challenge all of us to remember that the body and mind also require a certain amount of upkeep without considering a need for that upkeep a shortcoming.