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Making Good Health Decisions
 
By : Tim Frymyer
 
 

I'm always amazed at how people will do just about everything except that one thing that will help them out the most. For example, when I was in school, people would develop these elaborate ways to cheat on exams instead of just studying. If they spent just half the time studying that they spent trying to come up with a full-proof way to cheat, they would passed rather easily. I find this true in the workplace as well.

Many times I hear employees complain about their boss or their administration. Why? Well probably because they've been asked to do more with less. As a result, many employees respond by doing less, just to make a point. Perhaps they find one little road bump in their day and decide that is the one event they'll use to "stick it to the man". However, if they would just buckle down and decide to be more efficient, they'd probably exceed their bosses expectations and come out of it with a raise or even a promotion.

The same concept is true in healthcare. How many times do you see people at a fast food restaurant, who are overweight/obese, and they're getting the #5 Combo value meal, with a diet soda. Is that person really trying to lose weight? Is that person just trying to put on appearances? Maybe they just like the taste of diet soda over regular soda. Regardless of the reason, it speaks to my point. Why would they value size a combo meal and get a diet drink when they could have just had a healthier meal at home? Now I know there are a lot of extenuating circumstances as to why people do what they do, but this article is primarily addressed to those people who are trying to get something for nothing. In the end, they actually make their health and personal financial situation a lot worse off.

Okay then, what would be a prime example of this person? Since I am a respiratory therapist, let me bring you some of my personal experiences with patients.

1. One gentleman told me he drank Dr. Peppers because they were fairly cheap to buy. The local grocer had them on sale all the time. So he was being fiscal in his selection of a beverage, which I cannot argue with. However, he has difficult to control diabetes. Because of his economic selection on the soda, he was making another economic selection regarding his health. He routinely had to visit his physician for his out of control blood sugars, he was missing work, and his pharmacy bill was through the roof. Suddenly that little money he was saving at the grocer doesn't look like much of a savings. Because his diabetes was so poorly controlled, he began to have a host of other symptoms that come along with it. These required additional trips to the doctor and pharmacy too.

2. Now lets look at a lady who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day and complained everyday that she couldn't get her work done like her peers did, but she felt she deserved a better raise, despite having the worst productivity in the office. Part of the reason she had such poor productivity was because she took 4-5 smoking breaks during her shift. Each break lasted about 20 minutes. That means she was trying to squeeze 8 hours of productivity into just over 6 hours. This meant she was always rushing around and giving sloppy work. So not only did she have poor productivity, but she was making a lot of errors in the process. Her response to management was that she needed those smoking breaks because the job was too stressful. I can see why, unfortunately, she couldn't. This woman is at risk for losing her job because of her decision to buy cigarettes. She hadn't quit yet, because she thought cigarettes were cheaper than the treatment to get her off cigarettes (which, of course, is not true). So instead of owning up to her limitations, she ends up making excuses.

3. Lastly, we see a man who was morbidly obese. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 420 pounds (that's my best guess). He is constantly taking work off because of his bad back and knees. I think we all know why he has these problems. After several cortisone injections he finally decided it was his weight that was causing his joint and back pain. He had a lap band surgery and lost about 150 pounds. We were all very proud of him in the office. He was making real headway. Then something happened. We noticed how his lunches were becoming bigger. Then we noticed him taking snack breaks during the day. Then we saw him go into the bathroom to "purge" himself of what he had just eaten. In no time at all, he was back up past his pre-surgical weight. Now he's once again getting those injections and taking time off from work. He might as well taken several bags of money and threw them out the window.

What is my point in sharing these stories? Well, I guess I just wanted to peel the scab off a little and show everyone the ugly truth behind our decision making. We love to complain, we love to blame other people for our situations and we don't like personal accountability. As a result, we are bankrupting the heathcare industry, depleting our personal accounts and teaching our children some rather distasteful and life threatening habits. Every personal health decision creates an economic impact, not only on ourselves, but on those we work and live with.

For example, if people quit smoking, we'd save the US health industry $193 billion per year. Think about that for a second, $193 billion - per year!