I usually spend Wednesdays writing about the stuff that we put in or on our bodies, but this week I wanted to touch on something that’s arguably even more important: the people that we trust with our bodies. This of course includes lovers, body workers, trainers, teammates, chefs, and more - but this week it included a surgeon for me.
An avocado pitting injury landed me with a severed nerve and artery at the end of last week ushering me into the operating room this week, which was pretty terrifying considering that - like most professions - my career relies on the use of my hands. And it was a bit daunting to know that a lot of what I do fitness-wise requires my hands; boxing, weight training and yoga - especially my quest for the (handstand) press - are on hold. Thankfully there are things I can still do with a little creativity... check out my hands-free workout from Monday here.
As a doctor, it’s always interesting to be on the other side of the equation. It’s usually me relaying my competence to patients, assuring them at their scariest moments that they are in good hands, and using verbal and nonverbal communication to comfort them. And I hear it all the time… patients who aren’t satisfied with their doctor or who have undergone a transgression at some point that has them wary of the entire system.
When I met my surgeon, I was almost instantly confident in him. He had a calm demeanor, spoke to me respectfully and informatively, was tolerant of all of my questions about recovery time, splinting, immobilization and returning to work and sport.
I guess the point is that my job has put me in a unique position to see that we are sometimes not as discerning with those with whom we trust our bodies as maybe we should be. We tend to show a lot of discretion when it comes to physicians, but maybe less than we show with lovers. Or trainers. Or chefs.
My advice? Cultivate a genuine interest. To say to ask questions is far too simplified and can turn into questioning others and their integrity, competence or intentions, which is not where I want to go with this.
Cultivate a genuine interest in your lover's (or lovers') notion of safety, contraception, disease prevention, consent, and about his or her expectations of the relationship.
Cultivate a genuine interest in what to expect from your body worker, how other clients have responded to the treatment, and about his or her experience.
Cultivate a genuine interest in how your trainer can modify for any injuries you have, his or her commitment to gym safety, his or her expectations of your athletic ability (express yours as well!). Be vocally in inquiry how to use equipment properly, how to stretch, and what recovery methods and dietary changes might be best for you and maximize your athletic performance.
Cultivate a genuine interest in how your teammates are feeling. Are they able to support you in practice, a game, match or bout (and you them)?
Cultivate a genuine interest in how your food was prepared. If you have questions about allergens, be kind but clear.
Cultivate a genuine interest in tests, medications, operations, and any and everything else your doctor recommends to you. Be interested in his or her experience with treatments and procedures as well as side effects, adverse outcomes, recovery times and return to work or sport.
No one who has your best interest at heart should be offended by your interest or inquiry.
By all means, ask kindly and inquisitively (no one takes well to an accusatory tone and that's not in the spirit of genuine interest).
The take home message: our bodies are so precious and we are only given one, exercise discretion with those with whom you trust it. There are phenomenal and caring people out there who want to treat you and your body with respect and love - find them and let them.
Comment below with any experience, tips or questions about cultivating interest in and exercising discretion with those with whom we trust our bodies!
*This was typed pre-op with minimal one-handed revisions made afterwards.