Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lying To Your Doctor

If you lie to your doctor, they cannot heal you.   Patient heal thyself!

We live on a retirement island and see what happens to people as they age.   They often develop infirmities, both real and imagined.   Many are related to underlying depression.   Some folks convince themselves they have maladies and then doctor-shop until they find one who agrees with their preconceived diagnosis.

For example, Gillian and Sam are married and getting older.   And they have some real medical problems, although for the most part, they are happy and comfortable.   Every six months, Gillian has to go to the doctor for blood tests and whatnot.   So a week or two before the tests, she "studies" for them by changing her diet, forgoing alcohol, and walking a mile every day.   Once the tests are done, she goes back to her normal routine.

To some extent, we all do this.   A week before a dental appointment, everyone regularly flosses and brushes - to avoid a lecture from the dentist on the merits of flossing.   And at least that raises awareness and gets people to floss more, I guess.   And I guess Gillian's health is somewhat better because twice a years she "studies" for her tests.   But on the other hand, the results of the tests might not reflect her actual health condition to her doctor.

Fred abuses illegal and legal drugs.   Since age 16, he has lived in a perpetual stupor of beer and pot, getting high every day of his life.   Not surprisingly, he has mental health issues.   He is depressed and paranoid and is taking anti-depressants and anti-psychotic medications, washing them down with his favorite craft beer.

When asked whether his doctor knows about this - his home-made cocktail of beer, pot, and prescription drugs - he says, "No, the doctor thinks I gave up drinking and pot.   And if I told him I was still doing it, he would cut off my prescriptions!"

Of course, I have to wonder if the doctor is more perceptive than Fred believes.   Doctors have seen it all, and no doubt Fred reeks of pot when he goes to the office.   The bottom line is, of course, if Fred admitted what he was doing to to the doctor, the doctor would say, "you should stop doing that and your life would be 100% better!" - and Fred doesn't want to hear that, because he is a classic friend with the perpetual problem(s).

Shelia has many medical problems, some real, some imagined, some exaggerated.  Her fundamental problem is mental depression.   And she is always on some fad diet, convinced she is overweight, although she weighs 90 pounds wet.  Yes, Shelia has an eating disorder.   And of course, this disorder is not only wrecking her mental healthy, but her physical health as well.

She goes from doctor to doctor until she finds a diagnosis she likes.   Maybe the next doctor will agree with the diagnosis she found online from Web MD!   But of course, when she goes to the doctor, she never mentions her fad diets and poor sleeping habits and lack of exercise.   Again, maybe doctors are more perceptive than we give them credit for, but then again, maybe not.

The point is, Shelia lies to her doctor, often by not telling him the whole story - a lie by omission.  Or if she does tell the story, it is only a half-story, slanted in a particular way.   It is hard to be honest with ourselves, much less honest about ourselves to others, even in the confessional-like atmosphere like a doctor's office.

Until she comes clean about her wacky diet and exercise habits, the doctors won't be able to really help her.  And she doesn't want to tell them the truth, because like Fred, she is afraid they will say, "Silly!  You are bringing this on yourself with all your unhealthy habits!"   She is also afraid he might prescribe anti-depressants, as many people still feel ashamed of mental health issues.  You know, at least Fred is taking his meds - his problem is his self-prescribed extras.

I am not picking on Gillian, Fred, or Shelia - although they would say I was and get very defensive about their choices in life.  And that is a sure sign they have a problem, too.  When you find yourself defending bad choices instead of listening to opposing viewpoints, you have a problem.   I make a lot of bad choices in life - I have documented most of them here in this blog!   I try to make better choices, but when I don't I realize what I am doing in being self-destructive.   Lying about it to myself is only compounding the error.

We all do this to some extent.   We lie to ourselves about our health and our habits.   And this usually isn't too harmful, except that over time, our smoking will kill us, our over-eating will kill us, our drinking will kill us, our drug use will kill us.   Of course, we all die eventually, that is for sure.

But to spend what little time we have here on earth unhappy and in pain all the time, or worse yet,  depressed seems to me to be worse than dying of something after many years of happiness and good times.

Lying to your doctor isn't a healthy thing to do.   If you find yourself doing this, ask yourself why and then try telling the truth and see whether that changed anything.

Hey, it doesn't cost you a penny and what have you got to lose?  Right?