A prescription I wrote for myself

Only in 1999, OxyContin was marketed with slogan "The One to Start With and the One to Stay with".  This foreshadowed the unfortunate opioid crisis.

There are other powerful advertisement slogans carrying promises of relief from suffering.  Could some of these mindsets lead us to even greater crisis?

Substitutes for water

Coca Cola – Open happiness
Sprite – Obey your thirst
Coca Cola – It’s the real thing
Beer - Where there's life, there's Bud.
Champale Malt Liquor – Champale Makes You Feel Special, Every Day
Remy Martin - Become guest of honor
Red Bull – “It Gives You Wiiiings!”
Dr Pepper – “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?”

Substitute for nourishment

Wheaties – The Breakfast of champions
Frosted Flakes – They're G-r-r-r-r-eat!
McDonald’s – You Deserve a Break Today
Burger King – Have it your way
Kit Kat – “Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat”
Winston Cigarettes – Winston Tastes Good Like A Cigarette Should

Substitutes that extinguishes health warnings signs

Alka Seltzer – I can’t believe I ate the whole thing
Rolaids - How do you spell relief?
Pharmacy - A daily dose of happily better afters.
Pharmacy - Want drug, Meet us
OxyContin - The One to Start With and the One to Stay With

Substitutes that perpetuates the illusion of inadequacy.

L’Oreal – “Because You’re Worth It”
DeBeers – A diamond is forever
Lexus – The relentless pursuit of perfection
Alfa Romeo - Beauty is not enough Power for your control
Chrysler - Drive = Love
Disney Land – The happiest place on earth
Vacation - Happiness Is Just Around The Corner
Vacation - Another Day In Paradise
Approximately four in five Canadian adults have at least one modifiable risk factor for chronic diseases (self-reported tobacco smoking, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating and harmful use of alcohol)
(Health Canada)

“Mental health and physical health are fundamentally linked. People living with a serious mental illness are at higher risk of experiencing a wide range of chronic physical conditions. Conversely, people living with chronic physical health conditions experience depression and anxiety at twice the rate of the general population”.
(Canadian Mental Health Association)

It is my opinion that physicians have the opportunity to engage patients in their moments of pain and sufferings.  In my experience, during these moments, patients are more open to share their illness experience and receptive to my personal wellness perspectives.

  • Healthy behaviour can repair and prevent illness.
  • Healthy behaviour is no more discretionary than compliance with medications, brushing teeth every morning or getting routine oil changes for my car.
  • Role modelling of healthy behaviour is a personal, familial and social responsibility.
  • My needs for healthy behaviour are no different than my patients.
  • My conversation (about healthy behaviour) has the power to change culture (of wellness)

Whether I am in my office or in the emergency department, patient motivated by their sufferings, makes great efforts to present with honesty and a genuine willingness to accept a solution or new perspectives.  If indeed four in five Canadian adults have at least one modifiable risk factor for chronic disease, then I am of the new perspective that by spending time in self-management education and support as well as treating the presenting problem in each patient encounter,  I can potentially quadruple my impact on population health.
I also think by running Physician-led Patient Self-management Education and Support Groups for 15-20 patients at a time; I can further multiply my value by investing more "upstream" in our healthcare system.  

Rationale for Wellness Groups Model at Ajax Harwood Clinic

Weekly Physician-Led Groups creates an accessible and safe place for participants to experience the benefit of regular personal reflection and authentic sharing around two important evidence-based health promotions:
Eat Well Plate
A healthy diet includes at least 400 grams of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day, excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots.   (WHO)

Mindfulness-based Wellness Program
We promote Mindfulness and Meditation as a part of Canada’s Mental-Health Strategy
I believe like myself other family physicians may be in a position to initiate an honest conversation rather than accepting the mindset - that all sufferings are to be avoided and that there are no options but to use substitute to meet my needs real or imagined.

At meetings and conferences for physicians, I share my new way of practicing medicine "stethoscope in one hand and a box of spinach in the other".  To me stethoscope represents technology and treatment; the box of spinach represents education and self-management. I also share the following invitation with all health care providers interested in experiencing "Physician-led Group Patient Self-management Education and Support".  I think this may be one effective way to share my perspective on this subject with others in a way that does not take me away from my practice workflow.

I think wellness is simple but not easy.  My moment to moment awareness is affected by exposure to the media.  I have written myself a prescription as a reminder and will share it with my patients.

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