Lifestyle

BOOKWORM: Author emphasizes plotting for prevention

By Terri Schlichenmeyer

The other day, when you creaked out of bed, your knee hurt for no reason at all.

It wasn’t like you kickboxed in your sleep, but it sure felt like you did. And this morning, you were dizzy just after breakfast. Last week, it was your wrist. Tomorrow, it’ll be something else, but you’re used to it. You’re past A Certain Age, so jelly joints and inexplicable injuries come with the territory, right?

Maybe, maybe not. Author Thomas Goetz says if you arm yourself with information from his book “The Decision Tree,” you can make better choices in regard to treatment and prevention of diseases and injuries, no matter your age.

Every body has “issues” eventually. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else, and if aches don’t arrive now, you know you’ll face them later in life. Still, you know yourself and your body better than anyone else does. How can you become a better partner in the care of that body?

Before you get to that point, understand, says Goetz, that today’s medicine has everything backward. Doctors and hospitals often tend to wait until there’s a health problem, then treat the disease. It’s not completely the doctor’s fault, though: insurance companies generally pay for diagnosing and treatment of disease, but not for warding it off in the first place.

Prevention makes sense “…but it’s far from the norm in health care today,” Goetz writes. “Most people aren’t inclined to think about their health until something goes wrong and forces them to….”

The second thing to remember is that unconventional, outside-the-box thinking is radicalizing our approach to health care by helping us to avoid injuries and problems before they start. We can often take control of our health and sidestep disease risks by paying attention to our own bodies through self-monitoring and information sharing, and with specialized use of technology that we already have.

Goetz believes by using one of those “yes-then-this, no-then-that” charts – a so-called “Decision Tree” – you’ll gain another tool in taking care of yourself. Decision Tree methodology can help clarify the benefits and detriments associated with your healthcare decisions. It helps avoid “toxic knowledge.” Most of all, it empowers you to be completely involved in your body’s care, an idea of which appears to be the way of the future.

Looking for something light to wile away the time in the doctor’s office? Take something else and leave this book at home. It’s not something you can browse. No, “The Decision Tree” demands your full attention.

Using medical history, reports of breakthrough technology and stories from individuals who personify the take-charge attitude he promotes, Goetz presents an intense look at a facet of healthcare that’s already creating buzz.

I liked this book. Though occasionally dry, it spoke to the science geek in me and it offered lots of very intriguing news. Especially if you’re concerned about the future of healthcare, pick up “The Decision Tree.” It may not hold the remedy you need, but it sure can’t hurt.

• • •

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her two dogs and 9,500 books.

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