Lately I've been hearing a lot of friends and family bemoan the fact that their loved ones are too stubborn to come in and see me. The irony is, these people usually need me more than the people they are trying to convince! It's kind of funny to talk to a friend who is hobbling around with hip pain and complaining that her husband has back pain but keeps putting off making an appointment at my clinic. "I think you need me, too," I say...and she just shrugs. "I'll get around to it at some point. But he really needs to see you-he can barely stand up!" And then she limps away. I know people who are chronically sick, who purchase gift certificates for sessions for their friends and family to experience acupuncture-but put off making an appointment for themselves. I also have patients who schedule, but then call to have a family member come in their place, because they don't want to see their parent/spouse/child suffering. I don't know whether these people are in denial of their own level of pain, or they just tend to put others first. You know what? I'm going to play the optimist here and see all of this as pure altruism. But, while I do applaud the selfless sentiment at play here, I want to share an oft-used analogy regarding this attitude: If you are on a plane and there is some sort of issue, would you put the oxygen masks on everyone around you, before you place one on yourself? Of course you wouldn't; after all, if you pass out, you won't be able to help anyone else. So, in that situation you would need to take care of yourself first, and then assist others.
You should be viewing your health from the same perspective. If you are sick, in pain, exhausted, and miserable, you won't have any resources to help those around you. Too often, we tend to take ourselves for granted and place more value on other people. Well, the new year is at hand, and it's time for a new attitude to prevail. You deserve to be as healthy as you can be, and to enjoy your life to the fullest. Whether it's a change in diet, a new fitness routine, or a weekly visit to an acupuncturist, don't be ashamed to invest in yourself and your health. The healthier you are, the more you will have to give to others!