Health: Bringing your best to a new year

As we grow older, each year seems to pass more quickly.

When I was five years old, a summer seemed to last a year; now each season passes in a flash. As we accumulate years in age, each year, month, week and day becomes a relatively smaller proportion of the time we have experienced. And maybe we’re not as attentive.

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Yet with each new year, as I review the old calendar, I am always surprised with what has happened in the span of just one year. The media recapitulates the big world events with retrospective spins, but what matters most to you and me are our personal experiences.

There were birthdays, anniversaries and many other celebrations, time spent with family and friends and plays and musicals seen with my wife.

There were hard times too. I looked after two dear patients who died from the most aggressive cancers. Though palliative care is a special opportunity to give my best in the worst situations and care for a whole family when they need it the most, each visit to home and hospice takes its toll. I die a little with each death.

Last year, my wonderful Aunt Cecile passed away in hospice. Though we miss her deeply, we were fortunate to have had the time to express our love and say goodbye.

There were changes in our relationships — meeting some for the first time, saying farewell to others, a deepening of some friendships, a drifting apart with others.

Taking stock of the old year is practice for looking back at one’s life.

Before moving on, I ask, “What am I most grateful for?”

I reflect on the good fortune not just the bad, the wonderful, kind actions of others, my gracious patients who entrust me with their care, my colleagues who support me in our shared calling, the many good people I have worked with to improve the health of our community, my best friends and my family.

What have I survived? How have I been helped? How have I helped others? What have I learned? How have I grown? The answers are measures of a year and of life.

Entering this new year, what will we do differently? What activities should we do more of? What should we reduce? What should we cut out all together? What can we create?

This life and each moment are precious. We have nothing to waste.

This year, I’ll be continuing my work with the Burnaby Division of Family Practice in our free public health lectures. On Friday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m., I’ll be presenting, “What You Should Know About High Blood Pressure” at the Confederation Community Centre at 4585 Albert St. in North Burnaby (near the Eileen Dailly Pool and McGill library). Register online with lcullen@divisionsbc.ca or call Leona at 604-259-4450.

Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper. For more on achieving your positive potential in health, see his website at davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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