The Effect of How We Talk About Our Bodies…to Ourselves

I hear it from my patients often on our initial meeting, “I think we’ll just have to cut it off.” Of course, they’re always half joking, but it carries come truth.

Some of you who follow me, like the science, and so do I. But I can’t get on my soapbox about how I treat you as a whole person and ignore the mental, emotional side of what I see, and help treat. So, if you usually tune out to my “hippy-dippy” stuff, bear with me on this one. I heard the following story from a course instructor a few years back, and it’s in my heavy rotation of stories in the clinic.

A guy calls his physical therapist because he had just come from the dentist. The dentist had told him that tomorrow he was going to have to extract his tooth, it will probably be a lengthy and painful procedure as there are a few cracks in it. The guy asks his PT, “Any advice for me, doc? I know this isn’t you’re area of specialty, but you know more about the body than anyone I’ve ever met. So, what can I do?” She tells him, “For, this procedure, it’s going to cost a chunk of money, you’ve had to take two if not more days off of work for this, it is an easy thing to be angry about, but don’t be mad at the tooth. Think of your tooth as a friend that you’ve had since you were seven years old, that you’re not going to see again. You are the one that ate the popcorn that cracked it. It did not betray you. Don’t say ‘f_ you’ to the tooth. Thank it for the good times, the nice smiles, the good meals. Say goodbye.” So the guy does that. The next day, the dentist is astonished. The cracked tooth comes out in one piece.

If you know me, you know I like stand up comedy, and I like this story that exemplifies the same sentiment.

Comedian had breast cancer & a double mastectomy. She jokes (as all comics do to mask pain) that “I always would make fun of my small breasts, but it’s like they had a secret meeting, got together and decided- Let’s kill this b!_.”

So the next time you are headed for a joint replacement, try thanking your current joint for good times you’ve had. If you are headed for a non-surgical path to recovery, same rules apply, try to look at the ‘cans’ and not the ‘can nots’ because dissociating one of your body parts from your total self, has its own negative effects… but that’s another story for another day.

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