Medicine show

Going to extremes, and searching for moderation -- this week in Table Talk.


Salon Staff
April 14, 2006 2:27PM (UTC)

Families Who Think

Not the Mommy Track: Career Advice for Mothers and Others

EricaYO - 11:30 am Pacific Time - Apr 6, 2006 - #565 of 604

There was a study I remember being in the headlines just a few weeks ago that said that women are going back to work before they are physically ready to.

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I wanted to throw something at the TV.

Yes, we go back before we are ready, because we don't have enough money to stay home unpaid, because we can lose our jobs if we don't, because our insurance will lapse after 6 weeks out -- Jesus, does anyone think we rush back to work to get away from the squalling child, because we like that we fit back in our sexy work clothes and can't wait to get back in the trenches??? We go back because we have to go back while we are still bleeding, while our breasts are leaking and we are too exhausted from night feeds to remember how to do our jobs (even when we love them).

Health and Science

Health questions

Tona Aspsusa - 02:58 am Pacific Time - Apr 13, 2006 - #1773 of 1773

I wish doctors and people in general would *start* by telling patients to be moderate and pay attention to what seems to make them feel more well. Instead of issuing blanket "cut out alcohol," "no more animal fats," "stop smoking" and "lose 15 kg" recommendations or orders.

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OK, for some people a blunt order to change their ways will work. But for many many it won't. It will only be guilt inducing (= add another stress) and leave the patients with a detached feeling from their own health. How many people will take an active interest in their own wellness when they feel set up to fail, or view the recommended life-style as not really worth living?

And it has the added effect of making people not take it seriously when doing or stopping something that really IS a matter of immediate life and death. (See previous rants about medicines and alcohol.)

I happen to have an example of this effect, at least partly, among my SOs friends: bipolar guy, mid-50ies, heavy drinker. pancreatitis. Probably due to the drinking, but decades of heavy medication is also involved. He WILL die from drinking, he has already been hospitalized four times within a year with acute pancreatitis, which locally is kind of a record; apparently patients usually die the second or third time.

For 30 fricking years idiot docs have been telling him he can't drink while on his psych-meds. Bull, as he has proven many times. Sure, sometimes a drinking binge has been a precursor for psychosis, sometimes his liver values have looked bad. But mostly he has been fine (family, employed, all the normal stuff).

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So since for 30 years "you can't drink" and "you shouldn't drink" have proven to not be true, why should he take it literally now?

People do unhealthy things BECAUSE they get some kind of benefit from it. No one eats too much fat or sugar or smokes or drinks just because they want to get sick. We do it because it makes us feel good. Or because it stops us from feeling bad, sometimes in quite concrete physical ways. And sometimes we just LIKE our lives, including our unhealthy habits.

So don't tell us to cut out pizza and late drunken nights, tell us to try switching to a little less unhealthy pizza (like: first step, switch pepperoni to something with less salt and fat, then perhaps try vegetarian etc.) and educate us about how to drink less for the same buzz (it's cheaper! Always a good selling point), or how to drink so we don't feel thoroughly sick for a week afterwards.

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In all honesty, doctors aren't usually the worst when it comes to blanket life-style advice (though there are some not-in-touch-with-reality zombies), but because of laziness or time constraints they do issue far too much boilerplate "live healthy" advice.

The worst offenders IME are usually laymen (and sometimes non-MD health pros) with a serious interest in nutrition. Sorry, I am not interested in popping vitamins and balancing my intake of essential fatty acids with a calculator. Or getting a naturally strong immune system from whatever the latest fad is.

And I do not care to hear how I should eat more super-crunchy, additive free, whole grain, organic, spelt black bread with salt-free lentil paste made with omega-z fish oil! But I might be persuaded to try the graham wheat toast or the carrot buns instead of the whitest-of-white fluff. And *maybe*, just *maybe* test it with blueberry jam instead of my regular 80% sugar Lemon Curd.

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