We've all had those patients. You just want to roll your eyes and say "seriously?" Why is it that some patients have such a hard time just complying with what they are told to do by their doctor? Specific instructions can be gone over again and again with head nods and "um-hhm"s all day long, yet when they go home, none of that actually happens. It can seem strange, and down right frustrating to medical staff to see that same patient show up down the line with multiple more issues that are a direct result of not following instructions that were clearly laid out. They were told of the damage that could happen if they did not follow the medical advice given, yet they chose to ignore all instruction and do what they wanted instead. It makes you think... do they like being sick? Do they enjoy being a patient in the hospital? I don't get it! Why won't they follow simple instructions to help themselves? What is wrong with them???
And then comes the best part. They complain about the problems that have directly resulted from their own non-compliance. It can make you want to scream. We could easily lose our patience at this point. It's like dealing with a defiant toddler who then has a temper tantrum because he got in trouble from not listening to your rules. Sound familiar?
Then let's look at ourselves. Are we really any different when it comes being compliant in our own lives with doing things we KNOW are beneficial for our own health? Not always. How often do we say things like "Yeah, I know I should exercise, but I don't feel like it", or "I could eat better, but I like sugar too much", or "I don't have time to food prep and take care of myself... I'm too busy". That's all well and good, until we start saying what comes down the line: "I don't know why I just can't lose weight... it must be because I'm getting older", or "I wish I could keep up with my kids, but I just can't", or "I'm so frustrated that I have heart disease (or... fill in the blank); why do I have to be sick?". Then we complain. We complain about not having the outcomes we wanted for our own health, yet we often completely ignore the clear instructions we've all heard before on how to avoid the messy outcome we ended up with. Don't complain about the results you got from the work you didn't do. Isn't that what we would tell our patients? It seems so obvious looking at a non-compliant patient in this instance, yet it gets a bit uncomfortable when we turn it onto ourselves. We know what we need to do. Are you happy with the results your getting? Or are you complaining about your current situation when you've been non-compliant all along? It's something to think about.
We wish we could make patients promise to comply with medical advice, don't we? It would be nice. How about making that promise to yourself? It' time. Time to start listening to all that advice we've heard for years about the benefits of regular exercise, eating fresh foods, keeping our own stress levels in check, and actually being responsible for the results we produce. If we don't, then we're no better than those non-compliant patients that make everyone crazy at work. Don't be one of those in your own life. Take a stand and make that promise to yourself.
READY... SET... GO!!!!
Terri Wentzell is a registered nurse with more than 20 years of experience. She is also a certified personal trainer, wellness coach, fitness nutrition coach, and sport yoga instructor.