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30 Oct

Physician heal thyself...

It has been my experience that regular brushes with minor illness help to keep health professionals grounded and in touch with the health concerns of our clients. 
For example, a routine session of healthy gym work has resulted in a revisitation of my old friend, the lumbar spondylosis (low back pain), after a less-than-stellar attempt at a routine lift. 
Now, back pain is one of the most frequent presentations to health practitioners, with the vast majority of episodes self-limiting, with or without any form of treatment. Despite limited scientific rigour, some choose to take medication with over-the-counter analgesics or anti-inflammatory medications, with others choosing to visit allied health professionals. 

In my own case, I use this insightful interlude to re-examine the things in life I take for the simple act of defecation. Now those familiar with recurrent low back pain will attest that the expulsion of a stool takes on a whole new perspective, as any attempt at trunk rotation or muscle contraction elicits the most exquisitely painful lumbar spasm. And the follow up paperwork is rendered nigh impossible! Our European colleagues were obviously well versed in this, with the bidet their most sensible response. How ironic it seems, that in the era of President Trump we should remember, at this time, that toilet paper was an American invention. Hmmm...Suffice it to say that my fellow low back pain sufferers should consider an aperient as a useful add-on management strategy to any active therapies considered for this affliction. 
And should I mention the putting on of shoes and socks.....clearly a challenge when one cannot bend to inspect the navel, let alone the feet. I am now the proud owner of several pairs of moccasin type footwear (be gone cursed laces!), with the (now trendy) ‘no socks’ look. 
And as for cutting my toenails...I think you get my drift! 

My take home message to our clients; we the health professionals, mere mortals one and all, suffer the same afflictions as Joe Public, perhaps even more so. We significantly outstrip the public in terms of misuse of substances, and self-harm, and suicide events. We are not good at taking our own advice. We are as humanly fallible as any other. Recognition of our human faults, I feel, can make us better at what we strive to achieve - empathy for our clients, and the best outcomes for those who seek our care, that we can reasonably achieve.

Dr Alan Underwood

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