The Dirtiest Word in the English Language is Not the ‘F’ Word
I am not a prude, I do cuss at times, sometimes probably too much. But in all deference to the F word, the dirtiest word(s) in the English Language are actually personal responsibility. Give me a chance to elaborate here.
We live in a country that might be the wealthiest in the world, we have supposedly the best medical care on the planet and as a country we are sicker than ever. Yes, I blame a large part of that on the food industry that puts so many forms of sugar in food that it’s outright disgusting.
Heart disease and diabetes are now considered inflammatory disease and according to Robert Lustig, sugar is the number one reason for an over reactive immune system.
The Apathy/Personal Choice Paradox
After 33 years as a dentist, having listened to patients over the years, I feel that most Americans when faced with a medical issue would rather the paramedics show up, fix them without going to the hospital and then give them a magic pill so they don’t have to change their lifestyle. Don’t you dare utter those dirty words (personal responsibility) in their direction- that is offensive!
But then when leaders step in to help the apathetic public make better choices, they cling to their right to choose. Remember when NY mayor Bloomberg wanted to limit the size of soda sold?
Let me ask you this, would you let your kid play Russian roulette? Of course not! But this country insists they should have the choice of food. It seems to me that equates to a really a long game of Russian roulette.
How does dentistry fit?
I think we can all agree that dental hygiene is the oldest form of preventive care in our country; it is over 100 years old. And yet, if you look at the statistics, preventive tactics have been an utter failure. Is it because hygienists can’t do their job? Absolutely not!
It is because (to be blunt) the public just doesn’t care.
Now maybe the new research linking the oral and systemic system might start making an impact…but I have learned not to hold my breath.
I have been practicing for over 33 years, for the first 30 years I would take it personally when patients didn’t take my recommendations; after all they were seeking my advice as their health care practitioner.
I know it is a little late in life, but I discovered that no matter how passionate I am about something I can’t make people change to conform to my vision of their health care. Either they want to change or they don’t.
Are YOU who you should be?
What I have learned is that I can only lead by example. You can often see my walking around the office with a softpik in my mouth. I eat well and exercise. My patients see me walk the walk after I talk the talk.
My challenge to you is this:
Look at yourself. Are you really a picture of health? Or does your message conflict with who you present to them? If you do not look like the picture of health why would a patient listen to you, it’s like saying “do what I say not what I do”, and that, my friends—we know doesn’t work
Health care reform starts with each of us. Let’s lead by example and be the profession that embraces those dirty words: personal responsibility.