Close this search box.

Act On The First Straw

There is an idiom that has been used for hundreds of years, but not so much recently: “THE LAST STRAW”.   This refers to the latest in a series of unpleasant or undesirable events, and makes you feel that you cannot tolerate a situation any longer.  The actual expression is “IT IS THE LAST STRAW THAT BREAKS THE CAMEL’S BACK” and this seems to have originated around 1786.

Some examples of the “LAST STRAW” concept:

  • A baseball manager has seen the umpire make a bunch of bad calls and finally the “LAST STRAW” occurs when his star player is called out on strikes with a questionable last strike call.  The manager runs onto the field, screams and kicks dirt on the home plate umpire and gets ejected from the game
  • A person is waiting way past the appointment time at a doctor’s office, gets finally called back by staff without any apology and the “Last straw” occurs when the patient then has to wait undressed in a gown for many more minutes.  The patient gets dressed, walks out and tells the front staff he/she is never coming back and will leave a very negative review on Google.
  • You are at a restaurant, the wait staff is rude, the food comes out late and the “LAST STRAW” is that the food sucks.  The person asks for the manager and demands that no charges are incurred for this disaster.

Now, to the healthcare arena.  Often, people will not “act” on a series of symptoms until a “LAST STRAW” event.  Here are a few examples:

  • A person has been experiencing abdominal pains for many months but the “LAST STRAW” is that the pain is causing lots of nausea and vomiting.
  • A person feels short of breath with exertion but the “LAST STRAW” is when on a family outing, that person cannot keep up with anyone
  • A person is feeling an occasional chest pain but the “LAST STRAW” is an episode when the pain does not go away and dizziness occurs.




These healthcare “LAST STRAWS” will prompt the person to seek medical help, and if the symptoms are severe, an ER visit will occur.

I am urging everyone to NOT wait for the “LAST STRAW” but rather, act on the “FIRST STRAW”.  I am referring to not straws on a camel’s back, but rather, the first symptoms you experience that may suggest a severe underlying disease.    I am not suggesting you run to the doctor every time you feel a slight headache.  However, if any new symptoms occur that seem out of the ordinary, it is best to seek a medical opinion.

In healthcare the “LAST STRAW” can mean the “LAST BREATH”.  Act earlier!

And this is not the “LAST STRAW” but rather the “LAST SONG”…enjoy Edward Bear.

Other Blogs