(Not) Following Doctors' Orders

| Updated: November 27, 2018

It’s generally accepted that doling out advice is far easier than taking it. Doctors are no exception, as we found when we (nervously) asked physicians to confess to advice they give their patients but don’t follow themselves, and they gamely replied. “It’s often been said that nurses and doctors are the worst patients,” confirms Patricia Palagi, M.D., who reveals her vice below.

“For me, it is sleep and chocolate. I confess that I like ‘bad’ chocolate. Not the dark chocolate that people go to such lengths to try to find some health benefits from—plain old Hershey’s kisses. Love the flavor (waxy!), and there is great satisfaction in unwrapping each one and having that little burst of delight hit my tongue.” —Matthew R. Handley, M.D., family medicine, Group Health

“I think the rule I violate most is not turning off technology one hour before bedtime. I think use of computers, TVs, texting, etc. results in a lot of the sleep problems I see…but I still find myself catching up on work close to bedtime.” —Eric Seaver, M.D., family medicine, Group Health

“What I tell my patients: ‘Try to attain some balance in your life!’ What I do: Sleep with my phone next to my head, work through lunch.” —Katherine Brown, M.D., family medicine, The Polyclinic Downtown

“Getting good-quality sleep is a huge healthy habit I reinforce with my patients, but I’m probably the most sleep-deprived person I know. Working on it, though.” —Greg Sharp, M.D., internal medicine, The Polyclinic Madison Center

“Despite my personal M.D.’s advice or listening to my own, I cannot stop drinking the Dew—Mountain, that is. I have tried and failed numerous times over many years. I hear it from everyone: family, friends, coworkers and, every six months, my dentist. I think after all these years I have personally sponsored an X Games. —Patricia Palagi, M.D., family medicine, The Polyclinic Downtown

“We often say, ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,’ but honestly, I can’t remember the last time I ate anything before 10 a.m. I drink my morning coffee and then, off to work.” —Barbara Detering, M.D., family medicine, Group Health

“How to sleep-train their newborns. I can describe the techniques quite well, but was never brave enough to do it myself!” —Mary Weiss, M.D., family
practitioner, Swedish Medical Group