How To Face a Serious Health Diagnosis
Your Health, Your Lifestyle
When we are first diagnosed with a serious health issue, we feel powerless, defeated, and afraid. We begin to feel as though it was only a matter of time before we had something like this happen to us—it was fate, it is God’s work, it was this inevitable event that I could not have avoided. We resign ourselves to having this health issue consume our lives. We attend medical appointment after medical appointment. We take prescription drugs when we first wake up in the morning and just before we go to bed at night. We later adjust to living with a serious health issue and accept that we have one. We search for cures and find ways to beat this new adversary we have found in our lives.
Heart disease and cancer are the top two leading causes of death in the US. Time and time again, we are reading journal article after journal article; listening to news report after news report that heart disease and cancer are directly linked to diet, exercise, smoking and our lifestyles in general. We become numb to this word lifestyle, so what does it really mean? Our lifestyle is simply how we live our life—our habits, our attitudes, taste, and preferences that influences how we choose to behave and lead our lives. We know when reading this that lifestyles are changeable and within our power to adjust and correct.
Yet, something mysterious happens to us when we are faced with our own lifestyle and our own personal habits. We believe we cannot change and change is simply not an option. We stubbornly profess to others that our current unhealthy diet choices of cheeseburgers, fries, cheesecake and ice cream define who we are and we will not change. We believe we could not possibly begin to exercise nor do we want to because it sounds too hard to start something new now. We just are not athletic, we’ve always been overweight, and we wouldn’t even know what to do- its just plain silly. We are a smoker and wear the badge proudly. Smoking is social for us. We get a break from our work day. We socialize with other smokers while we smoke. It relaxes us. Smoking is part of our routine. It makes us look cool.
When we hear of a man with serious health diagnosis refusing to change their lifestyle as recommended and seeking medication to compensate for his health issue and unhealthy lifestyle, we can recognize that this does not sound logical. We understand the simple solution is for this man to change his lifestyle. We recognize that this man is making excuses and presenting his situation as something outside of his control when there are actually many contributing factors to their disease that he does have control over. When we look at it this way, changing our lifestyle almost sounds like a shortcut.
The first step we need to take is to recognize our choices. Our habits, the food we eat, the activities we participate in daily are all a matter of choice. What we decide to do each day can change. We can eliminate some of the foods our doctor is telling us is contributing to our disease and we can add some of the foods our doctor is telling us will improve our condition. We can start to walk a half hour each day and increase the amount of physical activity each week. We can begin to cut down on smoking. Smoking cessation programs can be found in most communities. Smoking less is better than continuing to smoke at our current rate if quitting cold turkey sounds too intimidating at firsts.
When we are faced with a serious health diagnosis we need to remember that our health and the outcome of our treatment are in our hands. We can decide to use the power we have over our lives and our decisions to support our health or we can continue to choose to support disease. We need to choose to attempt to change what has created the disease instead of investing our time and money into masking our symptoms. One of the greatest risks to our health today is our false beliefs of how powerless we are over our health.