Gesundheitsgier (“health greed”)

When you punch “health greed” into Google translate with the output set to German, that’s what you get.  Kathy and I were talking about activities that make you feel so much more healthy that sometimes you approach them with greed for more.  At the time, we were out for a long walk in the woods, and sure were feeling better than when we set foot out our front door.  Thinking about all the calories burned, muscles used, molecules of insulin sensitized, and heart beats lowered, we thought why not do a whole lot more of this?  A veritable greed for that feeling and those benefits, to be sure.  I said there’s probably a term for it, and probably in German.  And sho’ ‘nuff.

Gesundheitsgier ist unersättlich. Immer noch etwas gesünder werden, mehr Wohlergehen, mehr Funktion statt Verschleiß – Gesundheit, das höchste Gut? Deshalb ficht die Finanzkrise den großen Gesundheitsmarkt bisher weit weniger an als alle anderen Branchen. Die Gesundheitsbranche als Konjunkturmotor?

Which Google translates says, in English

Greed is insatiable. Still getting a little healthier, more well-being, more function instead of wear and tear – health, the greatest good?  This is why the financial crisis has so far affected the large healthcare market far less than any other industry. The health industry as an economic engine?

The author is a German urologist*, who keeps quite an extensive blog.  You can read the rest of his page long comments here

I think his gist is that health becomes so important to people they get greedy for it and seek as much as possible from the medical system, taxing its resources.  He states that a wise doctor can modulate this by limiting his/her use of tests/procedures/medications and spending more time talking, explaining, and reassuring.  Hard to argue with any of that.  I like to think that’s the way I practiced.

*Dr. Günther Heinz Jacobi was an academic until 2008, when he opened his Urologic-Andrologic Medical Practice in Duisburg.  He’s been quite prolific, with 157 papers on Scopus, and several books, for both scientific and lay readers.  He attended Med School at Johannes Gutenberg-Universitāt in Mainz, Austria, in ’77, two years before I got my degree.  Austrian and German medical schools are 6 years, entered straight from secondary school, so ol’ Doc Jabobi and I are about the same age.

And another entry

tendenziell unersättliche Gesundheitsgier zu befriedigen. Zur Rettung des kollektiven Systems fällt einem, der ökonomisch kalkulieren kann, einstweilen nicht viel mehr ein als „Anreize“ dafür zu erfinden, es nicht oder nur sehr sparsam in Anspruch

translating to:

tends to satisfy insatiable greed for health. In order to save the collective system, one who can calculate economically cannot think of much more than to invent “incentives” for not using it or only using it very sparingly

But could we not turn this into something positive?  Sure, if our “Gesundheitsgier” has us clamoring to our doctors for more pills to make us feel more well and more unnecessary tests to find out why we’re not, so it can be fixed, that’s probably not a good thing, not only for the health care dollars it wastes.  More expense, more adverse reactions, more incidental findings unrelated to how we feel or worse, prompting more testing or even – gasp –  surgery.  Could that feeling not be turned into a motivation force?  My wife and I are both hungry for better health, so we watch what we eat, find ways to manage stress, do things that are fun for us, nurture relationships with others, and get lots of exercise.  Perhaps the doctor can have a role not only talking the demanding patient out of tests and treatment, but guiding them to those measures that will help preserve and promote the health they seek.  I think everyone should develop a good dose of Gesunheitsgier, then let it power those behaviors that will get us there.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: