Fast Food vs Fast Healthcare: Is Speed a Factor in Our Well-Being?

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We’ve all experienced it before: waiting for our favorite movie to come out (if you’re a huge Star Wars fan like myself, you know what I’m talking about) to waiting in line for a chance to grab the latest iPhone 7 that was just released.  Well, it’s no different in our healthcare system.

We have all waited for hours to be seen by an emergency room physician, only to be handed a prescription for an anti-inflammatory, painkiller or muscle relaxant and then sent home to “rest”.  As a youngster, I remember my parents and I waited for over an hour and a half past our scheduled appointment time at the family doctor’s office just for a regular check-up! That was the last time I’ve seen him and now, as a physician myself, I value each individual’s time and make it a priority to keep on time, thanks to my amazing front staff.

A Need for Fast Healthcare…?

Our daily pace has escalated more and more each year, due in part to the expectations we place on ourselves from work life, home life, balancing family commitments and community service.  We’ve gone from a “fast food” society to the modern digital age, where we want everything instantaneously. Forget email, text or tweet me when you get this!

When someone comes into the office with a complaint, the most common question is, “Doc, can you help me with this problem I’m having?” The second most common question is, “How long do you think this would take?” For some of us, time is a luxury to have and they can’t afford to take time off work for financial or other reasons.  For others, it’s a mindset — the most difficult decision is whether or not you should take the time to adequately heal yourself.

Health Is Not a ‘Quick Fix’

We need to realize that our bodies do not respond to a ‘quick fix’. We’re not designed that way at all. When an injury is involved, a fracture for example, the priority is to stabilize and set the fracture right away, if need be.  This may involve x-rays, examination by the ER physician, possibly a consult with an orthopaedic specialist and a trip to the fracture clinic to cast for 6-8 weeks.  Afterwards, there’s physiotherapy and rehabilitation to ensure the muscles are adequately healed to support the injured area (this is what happened to my younger niece this summer, when she fell from the monkey bars just before school started).

If it’s a complex issue involving some length of time to support the body throughout the healing phase, we just can’t expect the body to return quickly to its pre-injured state.  It’s similar to the analogy of ordering ‘fast food’ vs good ‘old fashioned’ home style cooking.  

Now, for me, as a foodie who enjoys and appreciates good food the way my mom used to make it, this situation is a no-brainer.  The same must be said for the way our body needs to heal.  

The best thing we can give ourselves is the time to completely recover from our ailment, otherwise the condition itself may worsen and become more complicated.  This translates to a larger financial burden — not just on the worker’s paycheque, but directly on the employer’s lost time and productivity as well as the overall cost and financial drain on our healthcare system.

The Three P’s — Persistence, Perseverance, Patience

I always say to my patients, “Remember the 3 P’s, or Pillars to health and overall wellness: ‘Persistence’, ‘Perseverance’ and above all ‘Patience’”.  When it comes to our health, this is the mantra we need to apply to all life fundamentals.  We’re not all born with patience but, as I said earlier, time is a precious gift in this busy world… Yesterday was past, today is the present. That’s why each day is a gift!  What are you going to do with your gift today?

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