The kind, gentle old family practitioner keeping an eye out for the patient's overall health is a thing of the past. These days, doctors are as swamped with HMO paperwork as they are with patients.
The New England Journal Of Medicine reports the average doctor's appointment lasts less than 22 minutes. An American Medical Association report cites patients changing health insurance providers as a reason few have the same "family doctor" watching over them year after year. It's becoming the patient's responsibility to keep an eye on their own changing health, guide their doctors, and do their own bodies "preventive maintenance."
Never has this been more true than with attorneys. Lawyers often focus on developing a good reputation and a respectable practice. While hard work and dedication are admirable -- and indeed required of legal professionals -- maintaining good health is essential, too. Without it, being a top practitioner, or even meeting minimum expectations in your practice, will be difficult, if not impossible.
In his book, Medical Crisis: Secrets your doctor won't share with you, Dr. Anthony Martin asserts that breast cancer and prostate cancer are nearly 100-percent preventable. It takes more than five years for most cancers to grow to the size of the tip of a ball point pen. By the time cancer is found by routine blood tests or feeling a lump, the patient may have missed precious time.
"Your car has dashboard warning lights to alert you that the oil is low, or you're out of gas," says Dr. Martin, "The body has those same warning signals. You just have to know how to read them."
Here are some warning signs to find out if you are on the path to cancer, stroke or other illness:
1. Energy. "If you've been tired for three weeks straight, your body is trying to tell you something is wrong." Long-term fatigue is tied to red blood cells. Red blood cell problems can lead to liver, kidney or brain trouble.
Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a simple blood test.
2. PH Balance. 70-percent of the human body is water. Water, like in your swimming pool, is either acidic or alkaline. An unbalanced PH (Potential Hydrogen) is a breeding ground for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and pre-mature aging.
Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a saliva test.
3. Free Radicals. The body produces free radicals as a process of detoxifying itself. When balanced, they are used by the immune system to destroy bacteria and viruses. Unbalanced free radicals can lead to cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, arthritis or Alzheimer's.
Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a urine test.
4. Inflammation. You need cells to "puff up" to stop bleeding -- but too much can strangle the arteries and cause coronary heart disease. Fat cells are a side affect of obesity. Too many fat cells or cells that are too "puffy" can lead to asthma, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Check yourself: Ask your doctor for a blood test.
5. Nutrition: Are you going out to eat too much? As a busy practitioner, finding time to eat a healthy lunch can seem impossible. But cooking your own food has numerous health benefits. Many websites that advocate healthy eating will tell you to cook for the week. Bake up some chicken and steam some vegetables Sunday night, and pack them up for the week. Make it easy. Get a Crockpot recipe for chili. Just make sure it’s something you like, otherwise what’s the point?
Check yourself: As your doctor to check your cholesterol levels.
Most doctors know these warning signs, but few sit back to contemplate how these symptoms work together to affect your health.
"More than half of people who make appointments with their doctor complain of fatigue," says Dr. Martin, "But doctors rarely bother to ask why you're tired, or how that affects long-term health. They (doctors) wind up prescribing sleeping pills, or dealing with the short-term effects of exhaustion. They don't stop to think that lack of energy is a big, red, flashing warning sign that something is seriously about to go wrong with the body."
Dr. Martin suggests once you've got a realistic idea of where you stand -- you can start giving yourself the antidote. "Change your attitude, change your diet, change your exercise habits and change your supplements."
"So much of what Americans are dying from these days is 100-percent preventable," says Dr. Martin. "