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Stuff Happens

I got some really surprising health advice from one of my doctors recently: “Don’t rush to the doctor. Sometimes stuff just happens.” And I totally appreciated the perspective.

When I was telling him about a recent health symptom of heartburn, I asked if I should seek a follow up with a specialist. This is when he explained that sometimes our bodies just do stuff or react to something or just have a short-term issue. In his opinion, we don’t need to rush off to the doctor for every single health discomfort. When it becomes repetitive and bothersome is when we should seek some more counsel and testing.

Going overboard on diagnostic tests

I think growing up I just became used to going to the doctor all the time. Sometimes I did feel like paramecium under the microscope. I was constantly (at least it felt like it) being poked and tested. They wanted to find all my ills, test all the currently available treatments, apply copious amounts of physical therapy—all with the goal of scientifically discovering my flaws so they could ultimately repair them. I am the living embodiment of medicalization. All my problems were chalked up to medical dysfunctions that must be resolved.

Unfortunately, it’s really not that simple. Rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t have a cure. (And they also never found one for me. Har har!) We never figured out where my illness came from. We never got to the bottom of all my ills.

Taking a step back

Over the years I learned to take the foot off the gas. I didn’t need to see the doctors as much, as long as I had a stable treatment (now, that’s another story!). I did need checkups to make sure my medications were not causing too many problems and to keep an eye on my general health. But I didn’t need to be a guinea pig anymore.

Deciding when to see a doctor

Generally, I do lean towards moderation and as few doctors’ visits as I can manage. Sometimes it still feels like a lot. I have annual appointments, such as my physical and eye checkups. Visits to the podiatrist a couple times a year. Dentist at least twice a year. I see my rheumatologist at least four times a year. When you tally these visits, which are completely reasonable, it does add up. And, of course, you have to throw in the occasional emergency like colds (or pneumonia) and RA flares.

It’s challenging having so many doctor visits

Part of my resistance to checking out my sleep problems was this very issue. Where is the time for adding a new doctor? But it has helped me to diagnose and treat my sleep apnea. So the balance is hard to strike—when to react and when to just watch a quirk of the body that may or may not be a new health concern?

Striking a balance with doctor visits

It helps to have my doctor remind me that “stuff happens” because I have experienced it. With my RA, I have weird joint issues, pains, and so forth all the time. I don’t call my doctor unless it doesn’t resolve in a reasonable time, because I know it’s a quirk of my illness and that there is little (or nothing) my doctor could do.

Bodies react and adapt to things

I need to remember with my body (or anyone’s body) that we are all different and strange. Our bodies are reacting or experiencing different things we can’t see all the time. Nature is wonderful in that we adapt and heal. Sometimes we just need the time and space to do that. Sometimes if we continue to feel unwell or hampered we do need to seek medical treatment. Other times we just need to accept quirks of our bodies that may be unique from others. After all, stuff happens!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 months ago

    Kelly it is so difficult to know exactly when to go see the doctor or not. thank you for the tips. Next time I do not want to go I will give Sheryl this blog and your number.

    If a really angry woman calls from Indiana, I suggest do not answer.

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Ha ha ha, Rick! Thanks for the laugh and the warning (and Richard thanks you too)! I will try to tell Sheryl a few jokes if she ever calls while angry. 😉 Does she like bad knock-knock jokes?

    One thing I can say from personal experience: if Richard says he thinks I need to go to the doctor I better go, as I will regret it otherwise! 🙂

    Best, Kelly ( Team Member)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips moderator
    2 months ago

    I am not kidding do not answer. Hey Sheryl scares me.

    a lot.

  • David Advent moderator
    2 months ago

    Thank you for this reminder, Kelly! As someone who is prone to hypochondria, I worry so much about the smallest things happening to my body. What’s that weird feeling in my feet? Is this another flare? And away goes the snowball. But, like you mention, it’s important to heed the advice that things just happen sometimes. And that that’s okay.

    Wishing you the best,

    David ( Team Member)

  • Kelly Mack moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks David! It’s a tough balance to strike, but I figure we can sometimes use the reminder that stuff happens and its not always bad. 🙂 Hope you are doing OK! Best, Kelly ( Team Member)

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