Michael
Michael

From a young age, we are conditioned in such as way that, when we have an “ouchy,” we want mother or father to come in, scoop us up and “save the day” like the superheroes that they are to us in a seemingly desperate time of need. We are psychologically conditioned to seek an external intervention whenever something goes seriously wrong. Over time, we become more independent and learn how to soothe ourselves and tend to our own wounds. Some of us are better adapted to do this than others, but one thing remains: We must learn how to care for ourselves as best we can, and one of the most powerful tools that we have in doing this is virtual healthcare.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” are important in keeping all of us safe from the spread of the virus, not only for our own safety, but for the safety of our friends, family and loved ones. However, the order to “stay healthy” isn’t limited to protecting yourself from infection of COVID-19, rather it goes for other illnesses and conditions, too. Keeping yourself mentally, physically and spiritually healthy are all part of “staying healthy” and “staying home.” As an unfortunate but necessary consequence, however, our routines on a weekly, as well as monthly, basis have changed significantly, such that we no longer exercise regularly, meet up with friends or go to the doctor as regularly as we should. So, all the healthy habits and routines we once kept before, we are now no longer doing, simply because we are staying home.

You might recall my previous article where I outline some best practices to follow during this crisis:

  • Focus on your health by treating yourself right.

  • Get enough Vitamin D, especially if you are deficient.

  • Exercise regularly, so long as your doctor says it’s OK.

  • Reduce your stress (mentally and physically) by finding your best routine and stick to it.

But what if you still aren’t feeling well? You are not alone. Many people, including those with serious conditions, are skipping doctor’s appointments to the detriment of their own health and safety. The Washington Post reported on April 20, in “Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals,” that an alarming number of patients with heart attacks, strokes and appendicitis have gone absent from the healthcare system since the onset of COVID-19 quarantine measures. While we aren’t sure where these people have “vanished” to, or what their condition might be, could it be that they have simply avoided getting the care that they need?

Clinics around the country, including this one, are moving quickly toward offering virtual care options in lieu of in person visits to which we are all accustomed. As a chiropractor, I have one of the most “hands-on” intensive treatment strategies for combating a variety of conditions, but I also know that frequently, self-care treatment is the best, as long as you know what to do and when to do it. The value of virtual healthcare is in the self-care treatment strategy. In a virtual setting, my role as a doctor changes from that of a superhero, to a teacher — one who helps make sense of the problem and the solution. Likewise, in a self-care treatment strategy, the role of the patient changes from that of someone bound by their condition to that of an active participant, equipped with the knowledge about their condition, and provided the tools required to navigate the recovery process.

For example, several of my patients have come to me for virtual care with seemingly serious injuries that had started small in nature until it quickly turned into something serious. At the time, they weren’t sure if they needed to go to urgent care because of the severity, but after a taking their history and doing an exam, it was clear to me that their condition was benign and could be managed at home. By the end of the session, they were reassured and experienced significant relief and are on their way to recovery. While not all conditions can be helped at home, many of them can be, and it’s the role of the doctor to help make that determination.

While we hold our hopes high for a vaccine and/or effective treatment for COVID-19, we should all do our part to help avoid the spread of the disease, as we are all potential asymptomatic carriers, and promote our own health and well being, which is equally important. And just because the rest of the world seems to be shutting down to contain the spread, doesn’t mean that you or I should also sacrifice our biggest ally that we have in this fight against the virus — our health and well being. By continuing your health journey by virtual means, you are helping to beat the virus and all its healthy living disruptions. With this pro-active approach, you will be investing in your health, by learning not only about what you have, but what you can do about it; and right now, getting some self-help might be just what you need.

Dr. Dan Michael is a chiropractic physician at NW Sports Rehab in Madison Park.