"He sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present"-The Dalai Lama.

This is one of my favorite quotes. For more than a decade, I would work 65 to 90 hours a week taking care of patients and teaching medical students and doctors in training. I loved it. But it took a toll on my health and my relationships that I can only see in hindsight. As a physician, how could I preach good health and staying healthy when I was not doing the same?

After having my first child, I could no longer be in the operating room 24/7 and gave up my faculty teaching position and research at The University of Pennsylvania to be able to spend time raising her. My passion of wanting to take care of people and helping them become healthy has not changed. I continue to directly take care of patients, but I also take care of them with the pen (or more accurately, the computer). I strongly believe that knowledge about your health can help you to live a healthier, happier and longer life.

The goal of this column is to provide information about healthy living and how to incorporate it into your life in a realistic manner. Prevention is the best and easiest medicine you could ever take. Just last week I had a patient who was scheduled to have his leg amputated above his knee because of poorly controlled diabetes. I also had a 32-year-old patient who had a stroke and was unable to use the entire left side of his body due to poorly controlled blood pressures. He was a contractor and now his life has changed forever. In both cases, I felt helpless and came to tears.

One of my dear friends told me "If you don't take care of yourself, no one else will." Although that sounds a little pessimistic, I think there is an optimistic message to it as well. Who else better to make sure you stay in your best health, than yourself? We have hospitals, physicians and other medical professionals who are imperative in keeping us healthy and treating us when we are ill. But even as a doctor, a textbook author and medical contributor on television, I learned that being in my best health required me to understand what is going on so I could be my best advocate.

Please email me questions and topics you would like me to discuss. I want to be interactive with my readers. I have already received several questions about herbal remedies, mental illness, sleep, medical ethics and alternative medicines like acupuncture that I plan on covering over the next several months.

Dr Nina Radcliff, of Galloway Township, is a physician anesthesiologist, television medical contributor and textbook author. Email questions on general medical topics to her at drninaradcliff@aol.com

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