Who’s goal is it to be average? Average looking, of average intelligence and so forth. When it comes to social acceptance and self image the last thing anyone wants is to be considered average. Except of course when it comes to our health. Being average is actually the goal. Health is often determined or judged according to averages.
Take blood pressure for example, the average range for blood pressure is 120/80 to 110/70. Mine happens to be 90/60, I work out and am in relatively in good shape. During an annual check-up, the nurse taking my blood pressure was alarmed and said that my pressure was low. I had to explain to the nurse that if she would take the time to read my chart she would see that 90/60 is in fact normal pressure for ME.
What would have happened if I did not know what my personal norm for blood pressure was? I may have been prescribed medication to raise my pressure, which I would most likely have taken without question, because we always listen to the Doctor in the nice white coat, right?
Our health care uses averages as it’s guidelines. Now, do not get me wrong, we need guidelines but that is all they are a guide – not the ultimate answer
I have a client, 49 year old female, who is very flexible – almost hyper-mobile. During rehab for a knee replacement the PT tested her range of motion (ROM) and noted that she had 90 degrees of hip flexion and told her “wow you have healed really well” and was satisfied with her recovery. For the average person 90 degrees of ROM is considered, sadly, as acceptable and in some cases the goal. Unfortunately for my client, her normal hip flexion ROM prior to surgery was 120 degrees. Trusting that the PT knew what he was talking about she accepted the diagnosis. Meanwhile she did not feel like “she was good to go”, again quoting the PT, and was still experiencing pain and restriction. After increasing her limited ROM and eliminating her back pain she said “I had no idea my pain was related to the knee as they said I was healed. I just thought, well this is what getting old was like”. Again she is only 49 years old. Her ROM prior to surgery should have been documented somewhere. Rehab goals should not be to achieve the average. While a surgery such as a knee replacement will present new limitations it should not be assumed that she is only ever going to be average from here on out.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. What Doctor should a female go to when the symptoms of Menopause begin? The standard answer is the Gynecologist. But why? – a Gynecologist, for all intense purposes is a plumber. Menopause is not a plumbing issue it is a hormonal one- women should be turning to an Endocrinologist for assistance with the change.
A gynecologist will most likely prescribe estrogen for all of the women who come to him/her. Here is another important time when a woman needs to know what is normal for her. All women should get a full hormonal blood work up every ten years starting when they turn 20 and put the information away until the time occurs. Then she will have a complete history of her hormones. This would be a more appropriate guide for what she personally needs as a supplement, if any, at this point in life.
It is so important that we pay attention to our bodies as well as our instincts when it comes to our health care. We need to when know something is not right for us personally. We should not blindly accept recommendations for surgery, or reasons for continuing/ending treatment. We rarely follow our instincts because we are unsure and uninformed about our own body. The more connected one is with their own body, the better prepared one is to figure out which health options are best suited for us, indidivually. Knowledge is power, combine it with understanding and confidence the result is a uniquely healthier, you. And there is nothing average about that.