Some Things I Have Learned From 26 Years As A Physician

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This article contains some pearls of wisdom I have learned from practicing medicine for half of my life and spending time with thousands of patients.

Intuition is Everything: A patient should always believe and trust in their own instincts. Don’t let a provider tell you are fine if you think differently. No one knows your body better than you.

Increased Pace of Medicine: The demands on physicians have increased exponentially over the years. So before you visit your doctor, prepare carefully. Create a one-page synopsis listing your medications, medical problems, allergies, hospitalizations and operations. Keep copies of your pathology reports, scans and laboratory results. Most patients assume this to be the responsibility of their physician. Not so, because some of your lab work may be in hospital system A and some in hospital system B. Your provider may only have access to half of your labs or information.

Looking Younger: Are you thinking, “buy this laser procedure, add this filler to your face or put more botox in your system?” These procedures can certainly help, but the simple truth is “you are what you eat, drink and inhale” and sunshine destroys the skin. The skin never forgets a tan or a burn. It doesn’t matter how you got the tan or the burn- via the suntanning bed (an absolute no-no in my opinion) or from the sun. You will pay for the sun damage in the price of wrinkles, liver spots, broken blood vessels, skin cancers and skin that bruises with the least amount of trauma. Use a facial sunblock daily-a physical sunblock which blocks ultraviolet rays. Be aware of the types of facial fillers which are on the market (a filler is an injectable material used to fill facial wrinkles)- some of the fillers stay in the skin for the life of the patient while some are reversible. Personally, I only advocate the reversible fillers. Exercise, limit your intake of alcohol, and don’t smoke. Of course, there are many aesthetic procedures and skin creams which can lessen wrinkling and improve the texture of the skin. Lasers can photorejuvenate the skin by ridding the body of liver spots and broken blood vessels.

Acne and Nutrition: I was trained that acne was the result of hormones, bacteria, genetics, etc. Such factors do drive acne to a certain extent, but consuming a nutritionally sound diet is paramount to helping my patients with acne. My advice: Eat organic, fresh in-season foods without preservatives, herbicides, pesticides and hormones. Limit dairy and be sure your milk products are organic free of hormones and antibiotics. Decrease the amount of red meat you consume and be sure it is organic and grass fed. Avoid processed foods served in boxes, cans and plastic bags. Avoid sodas, sugar, high fructose corn syrup and non-nutritive sweeteners. These and similar measures can be of great help in controlling acne.

Laboratory Testing, Scans and Biopsy Results: Every time I do a biopsy, I tell my patients that “No news means nothing.” I tell my patients that if they have not heard the results from my office within two weeks, they should call my office for the results of their biopsy. Many patients believe no news is good news, but it might be a harmful omission instead.

You Are What You Eat: The facts are simple – we are living longer as a society but we are living sicker. We are developing more diseases with our typical western diets and sedentary lifestyles. We are surrounded by fast foods and poor nutritional choices. I encourage you to read your food labels. Notice the ingredients, notice the packaging, notice the country of origin. Know what you are eating and read about these so-called “natural flavors” in our foods. I highly recommend that we stay vigilant about the we eat and about the ingredients added to our foods.

I believe strongly that we need to inform ourselves about nutrition, create a balance in our lives, disengage or become less reactive to daily stressors, create friendships, exercise our bodies and breathe deeply. And, get eight hours of sleep a night; it’s so important to aging well and maintaining health. I truly believe that we could change the health of America if we all began to take our health into our own hands and fill our minds with knowledge and inquisitiveness.

Dr. Donna Corvette

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