Setting Personal Health Goals

Best health destination? Personal health goals

I have secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and so I have personal health goals. I want to progress as slowly as possible. I want to live at my peak capacity. I don’t want to mess with my pathological optimism. And I keep I want to keep blowing my horn (I have a baritone sax. I play baritone sax). Now my whole health team, so my family, my doctors, other clinicians, my friends, my readers. They all know my health goals and they’re helping me to reach those goals. So, what am I doing to reach my health goals? I take my meds as they’re prescribed. I work hard to maintain my strength and balance. I have an exercise routine that I do every other morning. I walk 3,500 steps a day. I wear my brace on my left leg whenever I’m outside. I rest when I’m tired. I do meaningful work for a few hours a day four to five days out of seven, if not seven out of seven. I go to acupuncture and chiropractic once a month and massage every other week. I play my baritone sax three to six hours a week. I actively worked to reduce manageable stress. And I keep my team, and the main people on my team are my family and my neurologist and my PCP (primary care physician). I keep them informed as my status changes. So, these are things that I do to reach my health goals.

Personal health goals. Hard or easy?

Now I talk with people, a lot, about reaching their health goals. Nobody has an easy time coming up with their personal health goals. It’s really not how people think. But it’s really pretty simple. People who are well, want to stay well. People who are acutely ill — so they have a broken leg, they have a headache, they have a stomach ache, they have a cold — they want to get over it. And then there’s people like me who have a chronic condition. We want to manage as best as possible and have a meaningful life.

If you’re well. Stay well

So, of the people who are trying to stay well

  • They want to drink more water
  • They want to eat well
  • They want to get enough rest
  • They want to be active every day
  • They want to manage stress, manage weight
  • They want to have the best relationships possible
  • They want to live within their means
  • They want to complain less
  • They want to do meaningful work
  • They want to participate in the community
  • They want to take out the garbage, people want to be able to do their chores
  • They want to be able to empathize
  • They want to celebrate success
  • They want to enjoy lifeAcutely ill? Get over it

People who are acutely ill and they’re trying to get over it

They want to do the same as people who are well plus

  • Take their medicine as prescribed
  • Manage pain
  • They want to adapt to the change in function
  • And they’re trying to get some more rest

Chronically ill? Live best life possible

And then there’s people like me who are chronically ill, who are trying to manage as best as possible

  • Going to get help
  • They’re going to build a team
  • They’re going to enlist a Care Partner
  • They’re going to become an expert in their own condition
  • They’re going to pay as much attention to the people who help them as they can
  • They’re going to join a support group
  • They’re going to prioritize what really matters
  • They’re going to give themselves a break

I don’t have personal health goals

I get a couple questions that are really common. One is: “I don’t have personal health goals. How am I gonna come up with some?” That’s a really good question. I didn’t come up with my health goals when I first started thinking about it by myself. Actually, my neurologist, when I met my first neurologist, he said, “you know I don’t know you that well. I want you to come back and tell me what’s important to you.” So, I gathered members of my family together and we talked about it. They helped me come up with the list that I gave you. I was talking to some friends this weekend and they said well I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. And you know it’s different than that. For me, a goal is I want to fit into my favorite vest. I got a gut and I can put on weight and then I don’t fit into my vest. Well, I don’t like that. So, I want to fit into my vest. Some people want to fit into their dress, some piece of clothing. People want to reach a milestone. I want to go to my granddaughter’s wedding. people have functional goals. I want to walk five thousand steps a day. So, it’s more immediate and more functional than “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Difference between medical and personal goals?

Another question that I get that’s really common is, “What’s the difference between medical goals and personal health goals?” That’s another good question. Medical goals usually come from diagnoses. So, I have MS. The goals are diagnosis based So, you have bronchitis, you have ulcers, depression, cancer, or whatever. It’s about treatments and it’s about protocols. And it’s about taking your meds, keeping your appointments, following the protocols of the particular diagnosis. But personal health goals do overlap. Like I said. So, take your meds, keep your appointments, get your lab work, those are overlapping. But we are not our diagnosis. We have aspirations. We have values. We have priorities. We aspire a function. We have financial concerns. We have personal safety concerns. So, all of these things were complex and so, our goals are different often than medical goals. All right so we’ve been talking about personal health goals and the importance of personal health goals for navigating your personal journey.

Appreciate your time. Keep the faith. Onward.

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