Usually, he takes me to his office after the exam to chat, but today we talked in the exam room.
"Everything looks good," blah blah blah. And then he said something that gave me pause.
"You know that exercise can be an addiction, just like drugs or alcohol," he said.
I felt a little defensive.
What is it with medical people and judging patients for our lifestyle choices? I once saw an orthopedic surgeon for knee pain and he told me the 20-25 miles/week that I run was excessive. Let me judge you, Dr. Chubs.
What is the expectation for athletes?
Speaking as a fellow medical professional, it's my opinion that most medical professionals don't know what to do with athletes. Athletes come in injured and we pull them from their sport without addressing the mechanics that caused the injury. When patients come in for well checks, there's not a lot for us to tell them. Low pulse, low blood pressure, normal BMI? My NP training was all about treating illness and disease. Sure, we learn about prevention. We are supposed to promote prevention. But most of what we do is geared towards steering unhealthy patients towards a healthy lifestyle. What happens when we see a patient who is already doing everything right?
We don't know what to tell them. Instead of praising them for making healthy choices, we tell them they're overdoing it. Maybe we even tell them they have a problem or are addicted.
I looked up the signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug addiction and substituted running. I don't want to make light of addiction because it is a very serious problem. You can chase the link if you want to learn more about addiction.
But I have to admit that I found it kind of amusing how well running fit into some of these statements. Tell me you don't have an addiction to running: