I suffer from anxiety and I have for long as I can remember. In addition to anxiety, I also face a whole slew of autoimmune conditions. (Note: I use the term “suffer” loosely, as I am fully committed to trying to take control of these issues and not letting them take control of me). Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
At times it can be incredibly frustrating, as I feel like my body is literally fighting against itself both physically and mentally (which I guess in a sense, it is). Most doctors that I have seen have seemed more interested in throwing a pill at the problem rather than figuring out why it is happening and what could be causing it. Make no mistake, I am a huge proponent of modern medicine and am in awe of the scientific and technological advances that have come over recent years. However, I am not so keen on the one-size fits all or quick-fix approach that I all too often seem to encounter. I am also not so happy about not always getting the full story from certain physicians (and while I am not a medical professional, I do have basic reading and comprehension skills and can identify a number of times I wasn’t fully leveled with by my physicians based on labs or reports).
I am a marathon runner for godsakes – I am not afraid of hard work or lifestyle changes. I am not afraid of a challenge. I also have no doubt that certain conditions that I have will continue to require traditional medical treatment. But what I can’t believe is that there isn’t anything I can do to help mitigate some of the impact of these issues.
|This is my most favorite comic from The Oatmeal. Running is one of my outlets!|
This is what has really piqued my interest in integrative medicine. In a completely oversimplified explanation (again, I’m not so great at the science aspect of things) integrative medicine is more patient-centric looking both at lifestyle (e.g. diet, sleep, exercise, emotional and social well-being) as well as the biological underpinnings of certain diseases. Specialists in integrative medicine will often ask a lot of questions about you in addition to running comprehensive blood work panels (looking for potential red flags beyond the “typical” markers). They will also suggest treatment options that include experimentation and change (such as cutting out certain food groups) to see what may be a trigger.
In my own journey to better health, I am incredibly fortunate to have finally found a knowledgable support team that I trust. About a year ago (when I was spending 3+ hours in the car a day), I stumbled across the Health Geeks radio podcast. For the first time, I felt like somebody was inside my head, understanding my frustration with none of my providers ever looking to the “why” or telling me things that I could be doing to help take control over some of the symptoms. I found that in nearly every episode I listened to, I had an “ah-ha” or “hell yes” moment where I felt like finally things were starting to click into place. At the time I started listening, I had never spoken to Paul or Brian but had merely seen a link to the podcast on my running group’s Facebook page (now I have had the opportunity to work with both on my own personal health issues – and can highly recommend both as practitioners as well). The podcast proved to be a great place to start (since I could do it while I was driving *yay multitasking*) and prov a solid foundation for learning where I can learn more about the areas that I am most interested in.
Now that I have a much shorter commute to work (about 10 minutes each way) I have much more time to read. I have also rediscovered the amazingness of the public library (why yes, I would like to order my book online, have it pulled, and come and pick it up at my convenience, for free). Currently, I am reading Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath. The premise of the book is “how small choices lead to big changes,” and discusses the author’s own diagnosis was a rare disease at age 16 and how he has mitigated its symptoms by eating healthier, moving more, and sleeping better.
I am not a health professional (as I’ve said before, if I was science-smart I would have gone to medical school, not law school). I speak solely from my own experience, reading, and from what I have learned from those who are far more educated than myself on the subject. Always consult with your own doctors/ health specialists with questions or concerns that you may have.