This is the most useful piece of advice this blog is likely to ever include, if not the only (advice is overrated, that’s an opinion, not advice): perform a thorough, objective analysis of your symptoms before a doctor’s appointment and tell them everything. They know everything you don’t and you know everything they don’t. They know about health but nothing about your health. You know nothing about health but everything about how you’re feeling. Figure out where it hurts, when it hurts, what helps, what doesn’t. Then spill all that information and leave it to them to sort through.
I was doing that regarding my knee, which hurt after a few short runs a month ago. I told him icing it doesn’t help. Then I stopped myself because I wanted to be precise. I said icing it doesn’t seem to help. Maybe if I didn’t ice it, it would be worse. Later I caught myself making the same mistake when I told him icy hot didn’t help. I corrected that and said it doesn’t seem to help, maybe the icy hot was preventing it from being even more painful.
I’m currently reading a philosophy book, The Rebel, by Albert Camus, and I realized reading philosophy, besides being enjoyable as you’re reading, has a positive effect on the way you experience life. This potential throwaway moment felt profound. Suddenly my dead father felt in the room with me. In seventh grade I started up baseball, again, having given up after my first year of eligibility. (Having gone that first season without hitting the ball. I didn’t say without any hits. I said without hitting the ball. I still remember nearly getting a foul tip, that year.) I remember trying out my cup in full uniform before the first game. I must have had some understanding, either learned or innate, of the importance of my balls or I recognized protecting them as a symbol of crossing a threshold in growing up. I knocked on the cup with my fist, but I still felt something. I knocked harder. Sure enough, I still felt something. So I showed my dad. I knocked on the cup as hard as I could. “I can still feel something.”
“Yeah?” my dad said, “so take it out and try that. See how that feels.” And he laughed.
I think a nice life lesson can be found in that. Now you could take that too far and develop a things could always be worse philosophy, which is rather dreary, but that’s not the necessary take away. I take it as a lesson about precision. The cup didn’t completely keep me from feeling my knocking with my fist but it was sure helping. My knee hurt. I was icing it and it still hurt. That didn’t mean the ice wasn’t helping. So far this life lesson applied to a philosophy of life doesn’t show a path to bliss but it’s useful in taking measure of your life. Consider what you might be missing, what you might need, but counter that feeling with an appraisal of what you have. If nothing else this will better position you for moving forward.
Update: since writing this I finished The Rebel, it was excellent. Also my knee is nearly pain free.