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Dr Duncan

Dr Duncan says...

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I was walking through the Chittering Valley countryside recently with a group who were walking from Subiaco to New Norcia. It was a “big day in the office” for them as they had to cover 26kms and this section of the trail hadn’t been walked before, but they were a great group of people, the weather was fantastic and the recent rains had made the surrounding scenery stunningly beautiful.

We had stopped for lunch, some removed their boots to reveal swathes of dressings covering painful blisters: others sat on logs in the shade of the pine plantation and munched on their sandwiches and there was a great sense of peace and unity amongst them. This was a group of people most of whom were in their “golden years” and who, only a few days earlier, had been total strangers to each other. One of the ladies spoke up and said: “Do you know, I’ve suddenly realised that one person can make a difference in this world! The people who had the idea for this walk have had an effect on all of us, and walking this trail will have an effect on all those who use it in the future. I’m from Queensland, some of you are from NSW and Victoria and many of you are from WA, but we will all take something special home with us when we have finished”.

And it is true: we can have a positive impact in our own worlds, whether that be in the family, at work, or in the wider community or country: and it’s not just those able bodied people who lead the way.

Thanks to the privilege of being a family physician for many years, I have had the opportunity of meeting some truly inspirational people. One in particular, is an amazing guy who is a “high level” quadriplegic, and relies on a respirator to do his breathing for him, as well as needing 24 hour care to feed, dress, turn and attend to bodily needs. And yet this young man learnt how to sail a dingy on the Swan river: he loved it so much he used his compensation money to build a special boat so other spinal injury patients could experience the delights too. He also goes to SE Asia where he sponsors an Orphanage and gives talks to schools on living with disabilities.

Despite his enormous personal challenges, he is a very happy, well-balanced guy – apart from supporting the All Blacks!! – and has truly made a difference in the world.

Over the years I have seen a trend in health care from the times when people only went to the Doctor when they were really ill – and there were some who were too afraid to go because the Doc might find something seriously wrong with them  - to the modern times when there is no doubt that some people attend surgeries or A&E Departments for trivial reasons.  We have to remember that medicine has come so far in an amazingly short time: it is less than 100 years ago that Doctors were probably killing more patients than they cured! 100 years ago, the most common diagnosis was “fever”; and “leeching” and “bleeding” were only just going out of vogue – so it’s not surprising that older patients were still afraid of going to the Doctor! Nowadays, a significant proportion of people seem to think that being healthy is a natural way of life and if it “goes wrong” then you go to the “Doc” and she/he fixes it, whether it be a cold or a cancer.
There is no doubt that in the last 100 years we made enormous strides in medicine: we have discovered antibiotics, vaccines and Xray machines: and we now have Hi Tec, computer assisted equipment that enables us to diagnose and treat diseases that in earlier generations would have proven fatal.

Even more exciting is the awareness of preventative medicine and of how the individual can make a difference to their own lives through the choices they make: and that’s where we at HBF want to help change peoples lives. We want to make a difference to the world here in WA by helping to promote “Best Practice” in personal health care through physical activity: through stamping out tobacco smoking: through education on the harmful impact of alcohol: through programs that help people who have battled cancer and heart disease stay well: and by supporting those organisations that have been established to support other chronic diseases such as the Asthma Foundation and Diabetes WA.

We want to use every tool available to get the right information out to the people who need it most. Over the weeks and months ahead, I will be writing on subjects that I hope will be relevant to many people here in WA: I value your feedback – because this is “all about you” – and the best form of advice is the personalised advice!

Spread the word: together we can change the world!

Article written by Dr. Duncan Jefferson. More articles here. For more information on health care and private health cover, visit HBF Insurance at www.hbf.com.au.

The content of these articles is not tailored for any particular individual's circumstances. The author does not take into account your physical condition, medical history or any medication you may be taking. Any advice or information provided by the author cannot replace the advice of your health care professional. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent those of HBF unless clearly indicated.

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