In 1991, President George Bush (the first) declared today, March 30, to be National Doctor’s Day. In doing so, he designated physicians as being special because they have “the responsibility of keeping in good repair the bodies in which this life is sustained."
Every time I read the former president’s words, I admit that I’m humbled by the reverence he, the most powerful person in America, displayed for members of my chosen field.
At the same time, I have to take issue with the statement that I quoted just before. As doctors, my colleagues and I do have the daunting task of helping restore the health of our patients. Having said that, however, I have to say that the responsibility does not rest solely on the doctors.
In the medical field, and particularly as a Houston podiatrist, I have noticed a disturbing (and growing) trend towards self-treatment among patients. While few people would attempt to ride out a heart attack on their living room sofa, more and more of my patients are only coming to see me after having attempted to take care of their own sprained ankles or broken toes.
Of course, no matter when you come and see me at Tanglewood Foot Specialists, it is always my duty (and honor!) to heal your pain and get you back on your feet. But it would be so wonderful if, on the day devoted to me and my peers, you made a promise to us (and yourself!) that you will always see a doctor if you think you’ve been injured as soon as you possibly can. Playing the wait-it-out or self-treating game puts you at risk of compounding your existing injury, opening the door for more serious and lasting disabilities.