Written by PathologyPrevention
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GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS: You’re the deciding factor in shaping your quality of life, not your money, not your friends, nor even your family. Your past is in the past. Your future hasn’t happened yet. It’s the you of now that determines your quality of life today. It’s common to think of our quality of life as a product of yesterday and feel a certain amount of helplessness in impacting this quality today. But you don’t have to wait for tomorrow, start experiencing a better life today.

   “Where your head is, your body follows.” This was taught to me by a motorcycle instructor, many years ago. But not really. I could say it wasn’t until after my first accident, when I totaled my Harley Heritage, that I was really taught this law of the physical universe. I remember seeing the landscaping trailer turning wide into my lane. I remember focusing on it as I was pushing to the outside of my lane. I just kept staring at its metal frame as a crossbeam pushed up against my leg, snapping it in slow motion. It was only then that I quit looking at the trailer, took back control of my bike, looked forward and controlled what was left of the accident. You’d think that I’d have learned my lesson. But not so. It seems I need to learn it over and over again. “Where your head is, your body follows.”

   When it comes to quality of life, the lesson is just as true, “Where your head is, your body follows.” Our thoughts, mental health, and attitude all contribute to our ‘Quality of Life’ experience as we experience it. Change these things, and we instantly change our current experience. The Health Guardian practices are like this, they produce instant change. It's true they also impact your future quality of life, but keep your head focused on now – your body will follow.

   Who is your Health Guardian? You are. You may not be a very good one, but you can be. According to the CDC in 2019, 6 out of 10 Americans suffered from a chronic illness that could have been preventable by a Health Guardian. It’s not too late, regardless of your current health, you can have an impact on your quality of life. By focusing on any one of these Health Guardian practices below, you will instantly change the quality of life you're experiencing, and begin a fantastic journey that will change your health and future quality of life.

Health Management Practices- Learn and begin using modern devices, increase capability through pantry living, use software to gain efficiencies and effectiveness, utilize the best finance practices and health insurance for your needs, and leverage time management principles for your advantage.

Caregiving Practices- Learn first-aid techniques and prepare for emergencies. Experience the benefits and value of physical therapy. Recognize the activities and skills you can acquire as your own principle primary care provider. Gain standardized clinical practices so you can better function as a primary care team member.

Lifestyle Practices- As you focus on your cultural wellness, even before real changes are observed, you will gain hope, and experience a sense of wellness and belonging that is real. This will give you the strength to address chronic illness and social wellness. Before you know it, you will be driving your own change initiatives to improve your future, but they will also impact the way you experience your now.

Nutrition Practices- Collect recipes as if they were medical prescriptions. Combine them for great meals that you enjoy. Share a good meal with a friend, how do you feel? Add the use of medical herbs, and capitalize on needed minerals, and vitamins. Combine these nutritious and enjoyable meals into a custom diet for you and your quality of life.

Mental Health Practices- What’s the truth? Who are you? What is your personality? Turns out that there are multiple models. Each one looks at us through a different lens that helps us perceive things about ourselves that we may not have known. This insight helps us see the world differently and enjoy a different quality of life.

Physical Health Practices- Have you ever felt like screaming, “What’s Going On!” The unknown causes fear, uncertainty, and stress. This is a poor quality of life. Learn more about your organ systems, and you can have a greater understanding of life. You’ll also be in a position to work with other professionals in a complimentary health environment.

Spiritual Health Practices- Find your purpose of life, establish a world balance, learn to benefit from meditation and stress reduction, strive for and experience self-actualization over and over again, and build upon an emotional foundation. This quality of life can be experienced now, but over and over again.

Environment Practices- You, as a Health Guardian should control as much of your environment as you can, while dealing with what you can’t control. The environment can be examined at many different levels in the systems hierarchy, externally and internally as a body, lower level organs, tissues, cellular, and even within the cell as your DNA and epigenetics.

   As a Health Guardian, we improve upon our abilities performing these various practices. We can base our efforts on a formal health evaluation, or just start with what feels the most right. It really doesn’t matter, other than starting. Once you begin, you will immediately feel an increase in self-reliance and decrease in helplessness. From there, you will experience a better quality of life, even if it’s just an improved attitude. But in time, this will evolve into improved wellness. The challenge is to stay engaged, reach higher and higher levels of performance and experience a fuller life. It doesn’t matter how much overweight you may be, what your blood sugar levels are, or condition of your heart. You can and should enjoy what life you have, and you might even surprise yourself and your medical team as your chronic diseases begins to take a backseat to your quality of life.

ISSUES: All these improvements are not without their difficulties.

  • Many health professionals are skeptical about working with layman. Earning respect and maintaining credibility is a constant issue for the Health Guardian. This can be overcome by choosing your primary care team and sticking with them. You need to develop a lasting rapport and relationship of trust with them. They need you, and it won’t take too long. Help them out, realize that’s what is going on, and it will go much smoother.
  • Your Health Records are your greatest asset. They provide a baseline for evaluating effectiveness of treatments, and a foundation for communication. Once the team knows you take your responsibility of record keeping seriously, you’ll be surprised how much credibility you gain.
  • There exist public randomly controlled trials on most conditions you will face. This is great that you have this information available, but it creates a burden for the Health Guardian to review and be aware of. Nothing will hurt your reputation more than citing YouTube instead of a clinical trial.
  • Evidence based practices require you to do your homework. Know how to gather evidence, and know how to conduct a self-examination. Way too many patients want to be the Grand Poobah without doing their homework, exercising discipline, or taking the time to properly communicate.

   It’s a good thing that you don’t need to know everything before starting. Practitioners can be difficult to work with, but they can become complimentary to your own pathology prevention efforts. Remember, you’re not trying to replace them. In fact, you're trying to make their job easier, so both of you can be more efficient, and effective. If successful, you will spend much less time and money taking unnecessary tests and redundant office visits. In the end, everyone is happier, with far less diseases, and stress in their lives.

STRATEGIES: There exist at least six differing types of strategies, with categorization based on differing criteria such as responsibility, commitment level, or sponsorship.

  1. Responsibility This category of strategic approach is divided by the level of responsibility a Health Guardian is willing to accept. Some assume total responsibility for their primary care, only working with specialized care providers. They put a healthcare plan in place that includes all aspects of pathology prevention practices, and then begin executing on that plan. Other strategies involve gradually accepting responsibility for different aspects of your health, implementing what things you’re prepared to do now, and slowly do more when ready. In the meantime, relying on other professional primary care givers to fill in the gap. At the far other side of this category is the “grease the loudest wheel” strategy, where you wait for a problem, and then let the specialist’s and insurance companies deal with it.

  2. Complimentary vs. Alternative Medicine This categorization bases looks to the core philosophy of care being given. If the Health Guardian implements a pure Alternative Medicine practice, then they will look to replace traditional primary care with alternative methods to address causes of, and not symptoms of, disease. They will rely less on randomly controlled clinical trials, and more on anecdotal remedies. The Complimentary strategy looks to augment the primary health team and contribute in areas that are seen remedial by the traditional staff. There are many strategies found somewhere in the middle of these two extreme approaches which can find ways to compliment each other.

  3. Sponsorship This categorization bases looks to the sponsorship of the effort. As an example, many larger health insurance providers are finding that preventative health is good business. They partner with their clients by recommending practices, provide training, and even provide financial incentives for practice activities and accomplishments. The Health Guardian’s priorities will be at least somewhat guided by their pathology prevention sponsor.

  4. Emergency Preparedness is yet another categorization bases. Some Health Guardians begin providing basic first aid practices, and over time migrate to general emergency preparedness activities. A typical path is to expand out from Emergency Preparedness to the rest of Caregiving, Physical Health, Nutrition, and Management.

  5. Experience is a common bases for categorization and strategy. Many people begin their development journey as a Health Guardian with what they’re comfortable with. This may be formal training, family history, or friends that have some level of experience. Whatever the experience level is, there will be holes that need to be developed. Even if you were a brain surgeon, you’d need to spend some time filling holes in your experience level in one practice or another. We develop like an amoeba, extending a pseudopods out in a seemingly random direction, slowly becoming more well-rounded.

  6. Demand is the sixth categorization bases. Many people begin their journey because of a specific illness or chronic disease that needs to be addressed. As they learn more about a holistic or systems approach, they learn what they need to. To make this effort more sustainable, they learn tangent practices. Before long they are balancing all the practices at varying degrees of competencies. 

   The trick to a successful strategy, regardless of its categorization, is having a clear and elevating objective or purpose that can be accomplished, and the development of an execution plan and budget. The objective should be able to be completed with in six months. It should be ‘elevating’, meaning that you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something significant- something that you can be proud of when your done. Something you would like to tell someone about. Try breaking large objectives into smaller ones, and do each one separately.

   Be realistic about the amount of time you must commit to, and allocate funding based on what makes sense. Realize that you'll most likely have to make a sacrifice to find the time to do this. Make some hard decisions about how much is enough, and then secure the time and money to assure your completion. The top two reasons for this type of project failure is lack of execution clarity, and lack of funding due to poor estimates.

NOTE: Your strategy should be supported using project management best-practices found within the Management Practices. These practices have been developed by industry, spending billions of dollars each year in projects. Of course, they would want their projects to succeed. Your quality of life is at least this important. Take your efforts seriously and manage your efforts.

INTERACTIONS: "No man is an island," your efforts will impact others. Try to engage others so that they can anticipate changes. Also, it’s always better for people to feel like it’s their initiative, and not “my crazy Dad’s project”. Communication is important, a roadmap that others can collaborate on will help keep the interactions positive. You may also want to consider a conflict resolution plan. A strategy diagram that graphically illustrates the expected function of your impacted friends and family helps break the ice and sets expectations in a fun way.

WARNING: As with all change, well intending friends and family will have many reasons why your plans won’t work. Give them time, do everything you can to help them understand your intentions. Be willing to let them disagree with you, and don’t require them to make changes with you.

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