Keep calm and carry on shouldn’t be your health motto, especially when you get a nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach that something isn’t quite right.
From my experience, what seems like a ‘normal’ health (painful menstrual cycle, regular headaches, fatigue, adult acne), are often just mini clues that something isn’t quite right. However, left unchecked they can multiply over time.
When someone gets a diagnosis like autoimmunity or cancer, these conditions are often years (or even decades) in the making. Following a trail of early warning signs (mini clues), that have been ignored or normalized, may have led that person to a place where the damage could have been stopped or reversed.
The journey back to health, when you make a wrong turn and go a block out of your way is a lot easier, then a wrong turn several 100 miles up the road.
The most common ways we normalize our health….
Normalizing: #1: I’ve always been this way.
It’s often hard to determine what is ‘normal’ when the only body to compare symptoms against is your own (or maybe a sibling or partner). Perhaps you have felt like ‘hot garbage’ for years and just suspected that was the health you were given. Just because it has felt like this symptom has been ever present in your life, doesn’t mean it’s normal, it just means it’s been there a while.
Normalizing: #2: It runs in my family.
It’s not unusual for people that have grown up in the same environment, eaten the same food and experienced the same stressors to have similar health concerns. Our genes play a role in the body’s blueprint, but our environment and actions play an overwhelming role in our health — this is often forgotten.
Normalizing # 3: My doctor said this was normal.
Depending on the type of doctor you are seeing, and their training, they are often looking for flags on your bloodwork that are high or low, or symptoms such as infection or bleeding. Their job is often to refer you to a specialist, or prescribe you a medication if something flags. However, what they often aren’t watching for is something trending in a direction, that if caught, can save you a lifetime of medications.
Normalizing #4: It’s because I am (insert getting older, a parent, etc.)
Certainly, years of life does change our health trajectory, but not necessarily in the way you would think. It’s not that your body is getting old, it’s that the symptoms you have been ignoring for years have finally piled up to a point that you are taking notice. It’s not normal to have aches and pains every day, that your hair is falling out, that you are suffering from insomnia, or have diarrhea on a daily basis.
Normalizing #5: Everyone on the internet has the same problem.
When we get that inkling that something isn’t right, the first thing we do is turn to the internet for confirmation or support. The difficulty is that the internet has millions of pages, and deciphering what is going on can be complicated if you don’t have a medical degree (or testing) that can help you figure out what is going on.
Today is the Perfect Time to Take Control and Change Your Health Patterns.
Where You Can Start:
Check with others. Next time you are chatting with friends, ask them if they are experiencing the same or similar symptoms. It might be enlightening to find out that everyone isn’t filled with rage before their menstrual cycle and in fact this symptom is unique to you.
Use the internet for information – but give it a time limit. The internet can be a helpful resource in our health journey, but if after three months of trying any advice found online things haven’t considerably changed, it’s time to call in a health professional (or a few). We all have the ability find videos sharing how to perform surgery online, but realize that doing so may mean it is time to call in a surgeon. Health isn’t something to wait around for to get worse, addressing the issue now, can save you time, money and improve your health outcomes.
Get copies of your medical records. Getting a second (or third) opinion when something doesn’t seem right can be warranted. Having copies of your medical records, and a list of symptoms you have been experiencing on a timeline. This can help your new health practitioner make sense of what has been considered, and what might be going on. One person’s dismissed test can be an eye-opening experience for a new set of eyes.
Whether you have been normalizing a symptom(s) for a few months, or a few years, it might be time to stop hitting the ignore/decline button on your health and start to investigate?
About Dr. Christina Carew
Dr. Christina Carew is a functional medical investigator who approaches health with an out-of-the-box problem solving attitude. Her patients love that she breaks what seems like complicated mumbo-jumbo into humorous stories, and digestible information nuggets. She witnesses that empowering patients to better understand their own health leads to better outcomes and healthier lives.
Christina became a naturopathic doctor after experiencing her own complex heath journey. Her passion to make health “easy to understand” was important for everyone. She is a forever learner, especially around the role our environment on health, how our gut really is the center of many health concerns and that our mental wellness affects our daily living.
An international speaker, a published author, and an outdoor enthusiast. Her husband refers to her as a mermaid for her love of water sports and the ocean.
Follow her at @healingme.ND on Instagram for more health information tips.
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Thank you for helping me on my mission to share ‘health real talk’ and inspire more health ambassadors in the world, just like you.
Remember to put on your own oxygen mask first!