Can Doctors Stop Trying To Make Me Better All The Time?

I’m sick of being told how to make my medical problems better. What happened to the good ol’ fashioned check-up?

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I enjoy being an energetic person and have recently got back into the gym after a very long, non-covid related hiatus. I push my legs, my core, my arms to the limit because I genuinely enjoy the burn and resulting endorphins that come with regular exercise.

What makes me tired, though, is doctors and physios insisting that I am tired because I am not moving enough.

I am an advocate for physical fitness; It has improved my mood, it has increased my appetite (for food and for life). It has been my go-to in times of emotional stress and I sincerely believe in it’s benefits when it comes to improving overall health.

But I know I am not the only one who has entered a GPs office only to be blithely advised that I should consider increasing my physical movements throughout the day in order to tackle unremitting exhaustion that comes with chronic illness or disability. I have even been prescribed exercise! And while this is useful advice, it often comes across as palming off the issue as a way of avoiding dealing with or validating a reality. That there is bugger all either of us can do to improve my physical situation.

A person who goes to the gym for an hour 4 times a week, engages in resistance exercises at home, sets and sticks to reminders set to engage their core/ back/ diaphragm/ kegals, elects the different mobility aid for the day rather than ‘the easy option’, eats well, takes regular air: That person does not need to be prescribed a healthy lifestyle. And especially not by a GP who has fingertip access to their medical history!

Doctors are adept problem solvers; their goal is to get the sick people better. But sometimes I feel as though it is forgotten that they also have all the expertise to keep the healthy people healthy whatever healthy looks like. Especially when it comes to young, healthy people.

The risks of lasting health conditions increases with age and, in turn, NHS England offers regular, free health checks for those between the age of 40 and 70. Similarly for those with learning difficulties over the age of 14.

There is very little in place to monitor the good health of those entering their “prime” despite the increase of risk factors for those between the ages of 20 to 40 including late onset diseases such as Stills disease, multiple sclerosis, motor-neuron disease, cervical cancer, Myotonic dystrophy, pre-diabetes, where early detection and intervention is proven to limit later impact.

Sometimes I do want to spend the valuable 10 mins secured with my GP assuring me that my own approach to my life is actually helping me improve or sustain my life. Sometimes I do want to be told that I am doing everything I can to live as well as possible. Sometimes I do just need a bit of bolstering, a review of my approach, a bit of encouragement from a health professional that knows and understands my individual case.

Personally, sometimes I do just want to be told that I’m doing a-okay without being asked “So what is the problem?”. That it really is okay that I have had to sleep and rest on-and-off for 24 hours in order to function; that it’s okay to be sick and tired of always being sick and tired!

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Philippa Cooper

Furious learner, exploring personal development, mental health advocacy and human connections.