December 4, 2013
Yesterday I noticed there was a new sign on the outside of our hospital notifying the public that bringing a gun into the hospital was not welcome. No kidding.
There are signs all around us. Some we pay attention to, others we choose to ignore.
Some signs should never be ignored-- like a red stoplight. Recently I was almost killed when a guy blew through a red light. I had waited my usual two seconds after the light turned green before I proceeded into the intersection. (Thank you State of Illinois’ defensive driving course). I had just enough time to stop with a good 2 feet between the man’s car and mine. The man appeared bewildered and confused and I truly think he just didn't see that the light had turned red. He wasn’t paying attention.
It's funny because I was thinking aboutsuperpowers at the time. I was wondering what superpowers people have, and what they can do on a daily basis to effect change. I was also thinking about how short and brief life can be. Then BOOM! Well, almost boom. Fortunately not a single person was hurt, no cars were damaged, and I was able to proceed after the gentleman backed up out of the intersection. But again it reminded me how quickly our lights can be snuffed out. My superpower that time was good peripheral vision.
There are signs all around us for our health as well.
If we choose to ignore those signs and proceed into the intersection, we might crash. It's a fine balance between deciding which signs to heed and which ones to ignore. If we look at every single sign on the road, we will become distracted.
Sometimes signs seems more of a suggestion. If you do the speed limit when everyone else is doing 80 mph, you're more likely to get into an accident from someone tail-gating. On the other hand, ignoring the speed limit in a school or park zone is a BAD idea.
It's as difficult sometimes to know which signs our bodies are giving us and whether or not to pay attention to them.
Some people never learn what “normal” is. Normal is not “perfect.” Normal is not being free of symptoms or signs. Everyone has aches and pains. It's knowing when to be worried that is the trick. Is this pain my heart? Is this pain my chest wall? Could this be a blood clot? Is losing 30 lbs without trying good? Or bad?
Our parents/guardians help when we're younger to cipher out the background noise our bodies are constantly putting out there. Growing pains, catches, itches, hiccups, colds with runny nose and scratchy throat, cramps in our muscles, feet and hands going to sleep in certain positions–all are things our elders teach us how to deal with when we’re kids.
There are however certain signs one should never ignore. A mole that's changing in size or color. A lingering cough. Unexplained weight loss. Urinating frequently, painfully or with blood. Changes in the color of or blood in your stool. New daily persistent headaches. Flashing lights in your eyes. Unexplained weight loss. Uncontrollable nausea and vomiting with abdominal pain.
We learn which signs to ignore through experience and through the help of experts like our parents or our friends or our doctors. The trick is not blowing through the red light. Not missing the signs.
That's kind of how disease can sometimes be too. All of a sudden the light goes from amber to red, the hoarseness became vocal cord cancer. The weight loss is lymphoma. The mole is melanoma.
AND BY ALL MEANS...Talk to your doctor. And your Mom.