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Exercise Forgiveness Friendship Grace Healthy Living Love

What’s Your New Year’s Strategy?

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My tradition with my children at the start of a New Year is to walk through the old calendar and remember the year past. What did we do? Where did we go? What days did we celebrate? What events did we survive?

We ask ourselves, “What acts of grace did we receive through the love and kindness of others?” and “What did we ourselves do for others?”

What were our best experiences and what were our most challenging?

What did we learn? How did we grow?

I’ve taught my children to seize each day – to be open to spontaneity and the beauty of each day, and to grasp the fleeting moments we have to help others and make a difference.

My children are now old enough to recognize that we seem to accelerate in our passage through time. Each year passes more quickly as does each and every day. To use our time most wisely, we must be more deliberate, consider what matters most and walk in the direction of our dreams.

The holidays were a time for celebration but also an opportunity to reflect.

What are your goals for the coming year? What is your strategy to achieve them?

My friend wants to eat more healthily, and his strategy is to eat a salad each day. To keep it fun and interesting, he will use a variety of ingredients, including nuts, beans and fruits.

My patient wants to improve her cardiovascular conditioning. Her strategy is to start aquatic fitness classes at our community pool. To stay on track and make it social, she’s going to go with a friend.

Another wants to improve his relationships, and his strategy is to express his positive thoughts and feelings about others. He plans to follow the example of the Dalai Lama who said that he may still get angry but he won’t hold a grudge.

Not everyone is keen on New Year’s resolutions. In elementary school, I had to make a list each year. Many grownups have given up this ritual because of memories of failed resolutions.

But I still make my list of priorities after considering the most important areas of my life.

Because our time each day and week is precious, for everything we add to our list, we must remove something else. How can we decide what to do and what to stop?

Ask yourself, “What brings greater value to my life and the people around me?”, “What must I do?” and “Of my current activities, which are really a waste of my time?”

Consider four questions.

  1. What should I do more of? Stretching? Strengthening? Cardio exercise? Calling old friends?
  2. What should I do less? Eating out? Snacking? Driving? Drinking with friends? Watching TV? Working and playing on the computer? Looking at my phone?
  3. What should I cut out? Smoking? Napping after supper? Hanging out with bad friends?
  4. What should I add to my life? Language lessons? Meeting new people? Creating art or music? Writing?

This is your life. This is your year. This is your day.

What will you do with it?

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. For more on achieving your positive potential in health: davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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Making the Most of Every Medical Visit – a free public lecture

The Burnaby Division of Family Practice presents

THE PATIENT-DOCTOR RELATIONSHIP:  MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MEDICAL VISIT

Dr. Davidicus Wong is presenting a free public lecture on Thursday, December 18th, 2014 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Byrne Creek Secondary School  7777 – 18th Street, Burnaby.

RSVP to lcullen@divisionsbc.ca or call 604 259-4450

Dr. Wong will discuss:

  • How to work with your doctor to achieve your goals.
  • The key information you need to know about every prescription, test and treatment.
  • What you should know about your medical history.
  • Screening tests – What tests do you need and when?
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Burnaby Division of Family Practice Empathy Empowering Healthcare Healthy Living patient-doctor relationship Positive Change Preventive Health Screening Tests Self-care

The evolving patient-doctor relationship

When I was in medical school, physicians used a now archaic term to describe patients who didn’t follow doctors’ orders: noncompliant. I laugh when I think about what the old time doctors meant. The patients didn’t bend to their will?

In our society, the authoritarian physician is an icon of the past. Doctors’ orders are more likely what they’re having for dinner at White Spot than what they’ve instructed their patients.

The patient-doctor relationship has evolved into collaboration. Though the physician may be an expert on matters medical, patients are experts on their own lives and the most appropriate decision-makers.

A little better is the term now in vogue for patients following through on agreed plans: adherence. But calling patients nonadherent suggests that they didn’t stick to the plan as if they broke a contract. This implies a judgment and a belief that deviance from the goal is solely the patient’s fault.

I have a better word for patients who are successfully achieving their goals: engaged. If a patient returns for a follow-up visit not having achieved a goal to eat healthier meals, quit smoking or begin an exercise program, that patient isn’t noncompliant or nonadherent. The patient is not engaged.

Patient may have become disengaged from their goals by unexpected road blocks – an injury while exercising, a family emergency or other obstacles, some unpredictable but others that may have been anticipated.

They may also become disengaged when they are not adequately prepared and supported.

They may never have been engaged in the first place if they did not choose their own goals.

The keys to successful self-care and self-improvement are personally chosen goals that matter to you, the anticipation of potential obstacles, and collaborative planning and support.

Recognizing that much of the medical information in the media (in print, online, on television and radio) is commercialized, sensationalized, biased and incomplete, the Family Doctors of Burnaby have launched a public health education program to raise health literacy.

The Empowered Patient program is designed to raise general knowledge about healthy living (proactive, preventive self-care; healthy eating; healthy relationships; and physical activity), enhancing patient-doctor relationships, and improving self-care for health in general and in the management of chronic conditions.

Our goals are to provide all members of our community with the information they need to live healthy lives, get the care they need from their healthcare providers and effectively self-manage their health. We anticipate a reduction in the burden of chronic disease in the future and envision a healthier community of empowered individuals.

On Thursday, December 18th at 7 pm, I’ll be speaking in the library of Byrne Creek Secondary School. The topic: The Patient-Doctor Relationship – Making the Most of Every Medical Visit. I’ll share some practical tips on how to work with your doctor to achieve your goals; review the key information you should know about any proposed treatment, prescription, test or procedure; outline what you should know about your medical history; and summarize important screening tests – what tests you need and when.

The presentation is sponsored by the Burnaby Division of Family Practice and is free to the public but because space is limited, register online with lcullen@divisionsbc.ca or call Leona at (604) 259-4450.

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Compassion Emotions Forgiveness Friendship Love Parenting patient-doctor relationship Positive Change real love Relationships

A healthier way to love

Belle

Disneyland has always been a favourite holiday destination for my family. When my daughter was small, we could spend more time in lineups to meet her favourite princesses than to get on the busiest rides, but fairytale magic had no power over nature; we would often arrive at the front of the line, when a princess had to take a break. It happened so often that my daughter started to harbor grudges against Cinderella.

Disney has raised generations of women with more positive identification with princesses’ and their stories. Virtually every young woman I know has a favourite Disney princess.

Some may still dream of the magic of true love’s kiss.

Unrealistic expectations can set us up for disappointment. Falling in love is like a psychosis that prevents us from clearly seeing the other as a real person: qualities are exaggerated and faults minimized.

In the grip of infatuation, we may not be capable of making rational decisions. If patients with advanced dementia, delirium or psychosis are not able to make their own medical decisions, should those madly in love not be allowed to get married (at least until the end of a cooling off period when a prince turns back into a toad or a beast and has the opportunity to leave the lily pad up once too often)?

When infatuation fades (as it always does), many ask with sober reflection, “What was I thinking?”

When the honeymoon ends, we become disenchanted and “happily ever after” becomes work. We can start competing with one another and keeping track of what we compromise. In the leger of what we give and take from a relationship, we all lose.

To avoid disappointment, should we give up the search for the one true love who is our perfect partner and soul mate?

The love we seek is an emotional, spiritual and social ideal but is within our reach. The love we have sought from someone else is what we must nurture within our own hearts. It is unconditional love.

It is like a physician’s unconditional positive regard for his patient, wherein the needs of the patient take precedence over those of the physician. The wellbeing of the other comes first.

We are human and we love imperfectly. More often than not, our affections for one another are conditional. If our partners disappoint and displease us, we hold back our love. We project our own ideals and identity onto our children and if they fail to live to our standards and rules, they may feel we love them less.

Unconditional love does not judge but easily forgives. It is like a best friend who knows everything about you but accepts you and loves you anyway; who tells you what you need to know, sees the best in you and pushes you to live your potential.

We are human and we love imperfectly, but we must accept ourselves and the love we have received as imperfect as it may be. Our world is not perfect but there is still beauty in it. We are not perfect but still worthy of love.

By nurturing unconditional love, we may live more happily ever after, accepting ourselves, improving our relationships and becoming better parents.

As an exercise to develop more unconditional love, picture first someone you care about and say, “May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.” Then picture in turn someone you feel neutral about (no particular feelings whatsoever), someone you have a quarrel with, and yourself, while saying, “May you be happy, healthy, peaceful and safe.”

If you practice this exercise regularly, you will become an agent of positive change – beginning first in your own heart and spreading to the world around you.