Editorial: John Patrick Grace: Health care reform we need depends on you
10/09/2013 - The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON - The health care reform we truly need is individual, as well as corporate (or societal). In other words, what can you, the reader, do to help the cause?
Awareness: What is the state of your own personal health as of today? Do you know your own and your family’s health history?
Are you prone to heart trouble, kidney trouble, a certain type of cancer? These are important risk factors. Nutritional and lifestyle adjustments recommended by your physician can help.
Do you know if you are diabetic? Apparently, most people with Type II diabetes — the acquired kind, not the kind you might have from birth or Type I —do not realize they have the condition. If you suspect diabetes, blood tests can give you a Yes or No answer.
If you are overweight or, even more seriously, obese, what are you doing to correct this very definite threat to your health and longevity? Weight Watchers can help.
So can work with a personal trainer, as at the YMCA, St. Mary’s or Cabell-Huntington hospitals, or elsewhere.
Be aware of sugar addiction — especially as relates to soft drinks, snacks and desserts. Cutting way down on your sugar consumption can make a major difference in weight control and in your general hea lt h .
If you smoke, resolve to stop. Your doctor can suggest effective programs. Or you can research solutions online. There are many viable approaches .
I have never met a former smoker who has successfully kicked the habit, long term, and yet regrets doing so.
Be careful with your prescription medications. Abusing these — or taking a multitude of pills prescribed by two or more doctors, with zero coordination — can easily lead to disability or even death.
Put yourself under the care of a competent dentist. Neglecting your dental health will inevitably lead to systemic consequences affecting other parts of your body.
Please get some exercise. Too many of us have turned into couch potatoes. Or else we have jobs where we sit at a computer all day long, then get in a car and sit some more while we ride home. Then we park in front of the TV and soon it’s time for bed. Walking (and up and down slopes will help) 20-30 minutes a day can do wonders.
The regular healthcare tips columns in this newspaper have, over time, passed along a wealth of good advice, from my perspective as a former health editor for a North Carolina newspaper. They are well worth paying attention to and taking to heart.
If individuals would take responsibility for their own health, and see healthcare practitioners regularly and follow the treatments prescribed (including weight loss and smoking cessation), the nation’s healthcare costs would plummet dramatically.
We would, collectively, prove the wisdom of the old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We would be able to stop arguing over whether Obamacare was a good idea or not. Each person’s taking individual responsibility for his or her health would solve virtually every societal healthcare issue we might imagine.
We’d be much healthier —and happier — as a nation. Better at work, better in our home life, and better able to pull together and help the country prosper.
So let’s do it.
John Patrick Grace formerly covered health and religion for The Greensboro (N.C.) News and Record. He currently is a book editor and publisher based in downtown Huntington and teaches the Life Writing Class.