How Will I Look Back on My Medical Decisions?
Hindsight is 20/20. Surely, at some point in your life, you've made some kind of mistake that, in the moment, seemed like a good idea. Before doing whatever it is that you did, you weighed all the possible outcomes of the decision you were about to make, and based on all the information you had at the time? It seemed like a great idea. But then, somewhere down the line, you realized that you had actually made a huge mistake. You realized this because you had since come into possession of new knowledge regarding that choice you made some time ago. There is absolutely no way you could have known what you know now back when you made what you would later regard as an absolute blunder, but still, you just hate yourself for it. Hindsight is 20/20 though, right?
Regretting health-related decisions
I worry about this when it comes to my life with multiple sclerosis (MS). I've only had MS for just under ten years now, but already I can think of several health-related decisions that I've made in the past that I now regret even though at the time? Knowing what I knew? Those choices made total sense and seemed like the best option. But now? Now that I've lived through some of the consequences of those choices? Well... if I could only go back in time... but... yeah. So instead, I can only wonder, "What would my life with MS be like now if I had done things differently?" or, more importantly, "In ten years, what will I wish I had done differently?"
Small choices change the course of our future
Of course, the decisions we have to make in our everyday lives can seem like pretty small and insignificant ones right now. Sleep in or go for a walk? Work out or watch TV? Eat a healthy meal or order takeout? Our future life with MS will be the sum of all those little choices. Choices that, when looking back on someday, probably won't seem so "small." Choices that can also involve some pretty significant decision-making, like what treatments you decide to try to manage your MS with. In the early years of my life with MS, Tysabri (natalizumab) seemed terrifying to me, but now I only wish I had started it sooner. Maybe if I had, my level of disability would be much lower? I'll never know, but I'll always wonder.
(Really quick, I don't mean to make it sound like making "better decisions" is ever easy or even within our control.)
Every decision is a seed planted
Every choice that we make is like planting a seed; we're probably not going to see anything come of it tomorrow or even in a week, but what about in a year? A decade? Eventually, in time, that little seed that you planted will become a huge tree. Changing your diet might not change how you feel in a day, week, or even a month, but maybe in a year, you'll notice a difference? Maybe in five or ten years, you'll be much better off than if you hadn't? All the little choices we make right now regarding our health could have a huge impact on where we'll be in regards to our MS in 10 years.
Foresight suffers from optic neuritis
Will I wish that I had taken diet and exercise more seriously? Will I wish that I had changed doctors? Signed up for clinical trials? Experimented with more alternative therapies? Will I look back on the choices I'm making now and wish I had done things differently? Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight seems to suffer from a minor case of optic neuritis.
Looking back with gratitude instead of regret
I have no idea if what I'm doing to fight my MS today will be something I look back on and wish I could travel back in time to change. I can only do what I think is best based on the information available to me today, and I hate knowing that I'll almost certainly look back and think, "Oh well, hindsight is 20/20." My hope though, is that more often than not, I'll look back and think to myself, "I'm so glad I did what I did and started doing what I started doing."
Do you find yourself looking back?
I know that a lot of this is easier said than done. It's not as simple as going to the gym or staying home to watch a movie. Obviously, things that are out of our control (like how we feel on any given day or even our financial situation) have a huge impact on the choices we make about our health, but my point remains the same: even though I feel like I'm doing my best now, will I later look back on it and think I could have done things differently? Do you find yourself looking back on your past MS-related decisions with regret? Do you worry about what you'll think in the future about what you're doing now regarding your health? Or does it not at all bother you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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