Carla’s Letter to the Reader

from "A Nurse Practitioner's Guide to Smart Health Choices"

You are invited to come on a journey of self-discovery that will improve your health and leave you with a sense of well-being and confidence. This book will help you uncover your unique health risks and show you how to reduce them. It’s important that you know what your health risks are. Health risks are risky because they have no symptoms. You may feel perfectly fine until the day you are diagnosed with a chronic disease or some catastrophic event like a heart attack, stroke, or cancer befalls you. But if you learn what your risks are and use your behaviors to reduce them, you can actually turn these risks into opportunities—second chances—that will both reduce the danger from your risks and improve your health at the same time.

Staying healthy is a choice and you make it with your behaviors. Understanding medicine helps, too, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to accomplish that. With the right information and a little motivation, taking charge of your health and healthcare is actually pretty simple. Regardless of your current state of health, better health is waiting for you. Reading this book and working in partnership with your health practitioner will make you an expert on your own health and the kind of healthcare you need.

If you ...

  • struggle to control your weight
  • smoke
  • have high blood pressure
  • have high cholesterol
  • have diabetes
  • have metabolic syndrome (or if you don’t know what metabolic syndrome is)
  • have heart disease or family members with heart disease
  • suffer from stress, anxiety, depression, or fatigue
  • want to feel more vibrant, healthy, energetic, and alive

This book is for you.

I’ve been a Registered Nurse (RN) for more than 20 years and a Nurse Practitioner (NP) for more than 10. From emergency rooms to intensive care units, rehabilitation facilities and now in my private practice, I’ve seen more suffering, grief, disability, and premature death than I can bear to recall. Most heartbreaking of all is that most of these tragic events were preventable; they didn’t just come out of nowhere. Uncontrolled health risks were warning signs that had flashed alarms for years before the catastrophic events occurred. But my patients didn’t see them coming. They didn’t recognize their risks or act on them until it was too late. Over and over I have watched the lights of understanding come on, but only after something terrible had happened. Knowing that these tragedies could have been prevented is what prompted me to write this book.

I want to lift the mysterious veil of medicine for you. Medicine is not rocket science and it’s not magic. Mostly it’s common sense. Read this book and you will understand your health and the kind of healthcare you need just as clearly as your health practitioner does. It gives you access to the same treatment guidelines your health practitioner uses. This book is written to be used over and over. Keep going back to it again and again until it is dog-eared and coffee-stained and you know everything in it. It is a friendly guide that will enlighten you about your risks and help you decide what you should do about them. It will inspire you and help you make the behavior changes that will do you the most good based on your own unique risk profile.

Understand at the outset that self-care begins and ends with you ... it doesn’t come from your spouse, your health practitioner, or Lady Luck. You give it and you take it. Understanding that, you will finally understand that medicine is powerless to keep you healthy. The best that medicine can do is treat you after you have already become sick. You are the only one who can take care of yourself to keep yourself healthy and well. I encourage you to take this book home with you. It will change your life.

Carla Mills, ARNP