FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE: FINDING A DOCTOR WHO UNDERSTANDS
I’m sure I’m not the only one. I have many friends who deal with chronic health conditions, but can’t seem to find a real solution. These conditions may not be completely debilitating, but they’re certainly an annoyance. Perhaps you deal with occasional bloating. Maybe it’s that reoccurring rash or skin problem that doesn’t seem to ever really go away. Or it’s that migraine that you get every fortnight. We go from doctor to doctor, practise to practise, only to be given a some drugs or an ointment, before we’re ushered off to continue with our daily grind.
But do these symptoms go away? Not really. They do temporarily, but they never truly disappear. This is what happens when we just mask our symptoms with band-aid fixes instead of addressing the ROOT CAUSE of the problem. And honestly, it’s not so easy to find a doctor who does that.
I spent years going to various doctors to address some of my health issues. I went to see multiple gastroenterologists (bloating and bowel problems), dermatologists (skin concerns) and even an endocrinologist (hormonal issues) in a quest to improve my health, but was often disappointed, or should I say exasperated, when a few diagnostics were run and it was determined that there was nothing that wrong with me. But, I didn’t FEEL fine. Don’t get me wrong, I could function. I could go and do my every day errands. I was, and still am, incredibly active and consider myself fit. But I knew that I wasn’t at peak health. I knew that I could feel better, and I refused to accept that this was just part of life, and I had to live with my symptoms forever. “Your blood test shows that your hormones are normal”, I was told. “You’ve got some symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome), but there’s no cure for that”, one doctor pronounced. “You can just use this steroid cream when you break out in a rash”, said my dermatologist.
So when doctors can’t help, what do most people do? Well, I started doing my own research. Frustrated with the lack of understanding, vainly searching for ways to improve my health, I spent hours and hours devouring information available on the internet, as well as watching documentaries to figure out what was going on with me. After some time, I came to the conclusion that my symptoms were all related in one way or another. The problem is, the doctors that I’ve been seeing only specialise in their respective fields, and don’t communicate with each other.
Enter functional medicine. This is what I was looking for. Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, and addresses the whole person, instead of an isolated set of symptoms. Practitioners actually spend time with their patients and look at their whole medical history and other lifestyle factors which could potentially influence their long term health. This approach considers each patient as UNIQUE, instead of applying text book answers to every symptom that comes up. Jackpot. This is what I needed.
I can’t quite explain to you the excitement and relief I felt when I had my first consultation with Dr Eca at LifeScience. Prior to my appointment, I had to fill out a comprehensive document which covered my entire medical history (from birth)! It asked questions about my mental health and state of mind. When I finally sat down with Dr Eca, we looked through the document together, to pin point when certain symptoms came up, and possible reasons for it. For example, I had a knee reconstruction when I was 16 as a result of a ACL tear whilst playing soccer. I had never thought about how an operation could have been the catalyst to some of my stomach problems. Well, turns out that when you have a major operation, you’re often given strong antibiotics to prevent infection after surgery. Antibiotics can be life saving, but they can also upset the balance of the bacteria in the gut, which can lead to a host of problems… say whaaat?!
So right now, I’m at the beginning of my journey with functional medicine, and I’m so excited and curious to see how this can help me navigate onto a path of wellness and peak health. I’ll be taking a few diagnostic tests, and I’ll be sharing with you my experience in the hope that it will help others on their journey too. Upwards and onwards!
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