Am I brave, or am I just following the evidence with a holistic approach?
I wanted to share a comment a patient shared. It came from deep insight and compassion. She shared that I had a lot of bravery for stepping out of the box in my approach to caring for patients. She has been a patient and a provider in the medical system for most of her life, having seen multiple doctors, including specialists and primary doctors, only to be deeply frustrated and decide to never even bring up her chronic issues to her doctors, also known as masking. She has suffered from profound fatigue, pain, and brain fog. All these have led to disability and deep frustration.
Before visiting with me, she had listened to several of my podcasts and nearly the entire audiobook. She enjoys learning much more by listening and watching than by reading. She had listened to the podcast where I recommended writing down your story going back to childhood. She came in with five pages of her history detailing her plight from infancy to the present, highlighting her physical, social, and psychological experiences. She shared salient medical signs and symptoms, including constipation and insomnia in early childhood, migraines and dysmenorrhea in adolescence, and developing into profound fatigue in adulthood after having her daughter with waxing and waning symptoms of what now would be understood as fibromyalgia.
She only recently was reluctantly and finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Her primary care doctor referred her to my podcast, as other patients have seen me with success.
We were able to discover comorbid issues, discussed the implementation of a healthy lifestyle, and validated that her story is important and unique yet shared in common with what many with fibromyalgia have endured.
As a clinician who has worked in several areas of medicine, including mental health, she found that how I implemented a holistic approach to caring for people, in general, was evident. She saw how, for example, in her experiences in mental health, they were not looking beyond the head to the important interaction with the other organ symptoms and their complex multidirectional interactions.
In less than a week, she reports having significant improvement with education, lifestyle changes, treatment of restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and ADHD. She felt the education also has been beneficial. She encouraged me to get involved in teaching the next generation of doctors and hopes that this will be shared with the broader medical community not only locally but throughout the country and world.
So, I have pondered her comment about being brave in stepping out of the box with a well-researched, comprehensive whole-body approach to caring for fibromyalgia. I have been interested in this puzzling and too often stigmatized problem for years. I have naturally incorporated and appreciated the longitudinal lifespan approach often missed in fibromyalgia care. I have been caring for infants through adulthood for almost 27 years as a doctor and going on to get certified as an internist and a pediatrician. I have always been passionately curious, which has led me to go beyond surface-level understanding and be on the cutting edge. This passion has included clinical lipidology and the complex understanding of atherosclerosis, the number one killer of adults. It led me to the realization of the limits of medications and the beneficial role of a healthy lifestyle.
This same curiosity and compassion have been brought to helping those with fibromyalgia and related problems.
So, am I brave, or am I just following the evidence and then confidently implementing them?