Doctor, Heal Thyself

Image ID : 17044590
Copyright : stockyimages

One thing I never thought about before I went to medical school was how much I would be exposed to various illnesses as a physician. I guess you could say it’s an occupational hazard, but it can be downright frightening when you are exposed to some of the most virulent microbes which circulate in communities and in hospital environments. You’re bound to catch something at intervals.

Most people think of hospitals as disease-riddled, and they’re pretty much correct. But there are other places which have the potential to make you too weak to whip a gnat.

One of the worst environments is the pediatric setting, in which walking Petri dishes, also known as children, traipse into the clinic and somehow fling their nasty germs onto you. Before you know it, you are struck with a horrific infection that require an army of medications before you begin to feel human again. I remember spending the majority of my time in every single pediatrics rotation I completed, whether it was as a student, intern, or resident, so ill that I spent my days feeling like I had been hit by a truck, with a pressure cooker for a noggin, fuzzy-brained and miserable from whatever pathogen those little brats had brought to me.

Another microbe-filled gathering place is urgent care, a setting in which I have worked regularly over the past couple of years. Last year, when I was working more shifts than ever, I contracted three upper respiratory infections which progressed to bronchitis, and developed acute gastroenteritis (stomach flu) twice. Thank goodness I always get a flu shot every fall, otherwise I am sure I would have been hit with influenza as well. I see patients who are so sick that they can barely stay awake during their exams, people who have no business being out in public.

I recently saw a young female patient with a 103 degree fever who looked very ill, so I tested her for strep throat and influenza A&B. The nurse on staff asked if I wanted both, to which I replied, “Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if both tests lit up like Christmas trees.” And they did. She actually had both influenza A and streptococcal pharyngitis. Poor girl.

It’s my duty as a physician to care for others, and I take it very seriously. But I will admit that my attitude towards my own illnesses is similar to the attitude of the Black Knight. My attitude is that it’s “only a flesh wound”, or “just a scratch” when I am ill or injured, so when I finally break down and admit that I am ill or injured, I am definitely in a bad place physically.

I suspect this attitude is similar to that of other physicians. So keep that in mind when you see that your provider is under the weather. We are only human as well.

Seated Stretches To Energize You

Source 123rf.com
Image ID : 25045947
Copyright : Andriy Popov

If you work at a desk job, you probably don’t think much about stretching your body and recharging it, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your body and your spirit.

Though I think it’s always best to step away from your desk to increase circulation, stretch, and reset your mind, I know that isn’t always an option. So here are a few stretches which you can do while sitting at your desk. I challenge you to perform these stretches right now as you read this blog post so you can see how easy and quick they are.

NECK CIRCLES:
Inhale, then exhale while dropping your chin to your chest.
As you slowly inhale, rotate your head to the right, bringing your right ear near your right shoulder and stretching the muscles on the left side of your neck.
Keep rotating until your neck is fully extended and pause, then rotate your head while slowly exhaling so that your left ear is now near your left shoulder and you feel a stretch in the muscles on the right side of your neck.
As your chin reaches your chest, finish your exhalation and pause.
Continue in this manner for 5 complete revolutions, then switch directions and perform 5 complete revolutions. Bring head to neutral and take a deep inhale, then slowly exhale.

SHOULDER SHRUGS
With arms at sides, inhale, then raise both shoulders near ears and hold for a count of 5.
Forcibly exhale through open mouth while quickly dropping shoulders.
Repeat 4 more times.

GRIP AND RELEASE
Make fists with both hands, holding for a count of 10.
Spread fingers out wide, holding for a count of 10.
Repeat sequence 2 more times, then shake hands out for several seconds.

OPEN HEART
With bent elbows, reach behind your lower back and clasp your hands together.
Aim to keep your palms together at all times.
Move the shoulder blades together.
Then straighten the elbows.
See if you can lift your arms up, away from your back.

NOTE: If this move is too difficult for you, hold onto a towel or belt, then pull arms outwards to add tension, then lift your arms.

Doctors Are Detectives

Image ID : 14903561
Copyright : ostill

There is tremendous responsibility in being a physician, and I take it very seriously. Any time I walk into a medical facility and see patients, I know that the patients and staff are all counting on me to assess patients fully, make proper diagnoses, and provide appropriate treatments. Basically, I know that I MUST make the right decisions at all times and be at the top of my game. Talk about pressure! Nevertheless, the thrill of solving a problem is so rewarding that it quickly eradicates any feelings of anxiety.

I just read Atul Gawande’s excellent book, Being Mortal, and I love this passage in which he very aptly describes the satisfaction which can come from being a physician:

“You become a doctor for what you imagine to be the satisfaction of the work, and that turns out to be the satisfaction of competence. It is a deep satisfaction very much like the one that a carpenter experiences in restoring a fragile antique chest or that a science teacher experiences in bringing a fifth grader to that sudden, mind-shifting recognition of what atoms are. It comes partly from being helpful to others. But it also comes from being technically skilled and able to solve difficult, intricate problems. Your competence gives you a secure sense of identity. For a clinician, therefore, nothing is more threatening to who you think you are than a patient with problem you cannot solve.”

The truth is that pretty much every physician has come across a case which he or she could not solve, one which necessitated a discussion with a specialist, or a lengthy literature review to aid in diagnosing the zebra who walked into the office that day. Physicians are human, fallible, and though they usually have the answers to the puzzles which are constantly presented to them, they may find themselves stumped every now and then, and that is a dreadful feeling.

It is an honor to serve humankind as a problem-solver, and I will always strive to keep my clinical acumen as sharp as possible in order to provide the best medical care.

“Fitness California Style” Is Available Through Amazon Prime!

I’m honored to be a part of this fantastic project which is now available through Amazon Prime Video! Best yet, Season 1 is available to watch for FREE to Amazon Prime members. Hosted by CSCS, IFBB Pro, martial artist and actor Ian Lauer.

Click on the link below to access all 13 episodes in Season 1!

https://www.amazon.com/Full-Workout-Dumbells-Bench-Babaganoush/dp/B07FVMN3FS/ref=sr_1_2?s=instant-video&ie=UTF8&qid=1532898241&sr=1-2&keywords=ian+lauer