No, not the whole family dinner thing, though that too has definitely become more and more rare.
It was summer of one middle school year or the other, and I had come home from a basketball camp with a sprained wrist (and a small trophy, but that’s another story). My parents are both doctors, so the news of my injury wasn’t alarming or even that exciting. In minutes I was outfitted with this new brace, and I have to admit that what it lacked in comfort and style, it certainly provided in stability. Nonetheless, it was a 2×4. And thank God I didn’t have to wear it to school.
Similar instances came up throughout my childhood – tape instead of stitches, going to school with colds, and avoiding X-Rays at all costs. (I still do this, because as my dad would always remind me – Knowing whether it’s broken or sprained won’t change anything, Erin; the healing process is the same. Plus, they charge an arm and a leg for those things.)
I would never say that my parents were neglectful in my health. No, confusingly, they were more protective about things like rollerblading, 4 Wheelers, and trampolines than most parents (because, as they would also remind me, those were some of the main causes of countless injuries they had treated). And my mom is still my long-distance doctor, the first person I call when I need medical help or advice.
Whether it’s due to the financial burden healthcare always seems to impose OR the fact that my parents’ DIY style of treatment has rubbed off on me (I’ve often said that I’m a doctor by association) OR the idea that I’m 25 years old and still delusional about my own physical invulnerability, the fact is I’m sometimes too hands-off about seeking treatment, getting check-ups, dealing with pain.
But I’ve had some wake-up calls recently. The aches and pains of friends turned into more serious life-altering issues. My own exhaustion (potentially due to anemia) as of late. The reality that my livelihood is dependent upon my body – and that sustainability isn’t something to keep externalized; it’s an integrated system that includes me. Yes, we are so much more than our bodies. But we are our bodies.
It’s hard to know where to go from here, in part because there are some other realities to consider: the healthcare system can be hard to navigate – 1) finding practitioners who are compassionate, knowledgeable, and affordable is a challenge (though not impossible!) and 2) there’s still an obvious bias towards specialized reactive medicine as opposed to holistic preventative care.
Ultimately, I think we do know our own bodies best. But we’re not always ready to listen to what they have to say. So in the spirit of dancing (farming, running, swimming, hiking, making love in every sense of the word) together 50 years from now, let’s encourage each other to open our ears, to dig deep (but not too deep – and always ergonomically), rest, stretch, and be patient patients when we need to.
with love and every intention to do some morning yoga,