Monday, May 5, 2008

Practicing What We Preach

Do we physicians practice what we preach? Do we eat little saturated fats, exercise regularly, stay away from nicotine? The average life expectancy in the US is 78 years. It is 70.5 in the Philippines. The difference is mostly due to the scandalously high infant and maternal rates prevailing in our country. In other words, a Filipino physician in his or her 40’s has roughly the same chances of living up to 80 as anyone living in the US. If we could only provide more potable water, vaccinations, inexpensive antibiotics, anti-tuberculosis medications, prenatal care, obstetric support we would be able to live as long as those who reside in Andorra.

What is my point: anyone reading this entry is statistically set to live beyond the age of 75. Of course it would help to lose a little weight, keep an eye out on our lipid profiles, glucose and PSA levels, submit to Pap smears, mammograms and colonoscopies but the important consideration remains that we live lives that are fulfilling and meaningful. How often have we seen nursing home residents with advanced dementia, abandoned by their relatives and totally oblivious to what is going on around them?

It is not simply a matter of living long. What is more important is living well and being able to share our blessings with others. Much like passing the baton in a relay, we must strive to lengthen the lead we bequeath to those who follow us.

If we should preach any particular message, it is that we neither live nor die for ourselves alone.


AZRON said...

I recently went on a vegetarian diet - it has been a lifestyle change - I don't smoke, drink a glass of wine on a very ocassional basis. I am feeling so good after I went on this diet. I eat tofu or soy products. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I love my new lifestyle.

I walk about 1 mile a day - over a mile actually. I drink lots of water


Anonymous said...

From my reading of the literature and watching PBS I learned the following.
Those who live in poverty have a shorter lifespan than those in the middle or upper class. This is more notable in a society where there is so much inequality in wealth distribution.

MegaMom said...

I agree completely: it's not quantity, it's quality. Which really brings us to the question of the end for which we strive, both as MDs and as people.

My husband's grandfather lived to 101 years, still strong - gardening, playing with great-grandchildren - til the very end. And he was not in a nursing home.

I'm not sure I want to live that long. But I am sure that I don't want to end up in a nursing home.

BTW, totoo na 'to. I'm hosting TBR-9 next week. "Mentors, Tormentors." Details HERE . See you!