Happy Gratitude Season!
I know the next 6 weeks can be full of joyful happiness as well as a deep sense of grief, of togetherness and yet isolation, of hopes for things that can be and mourning of things that have passed, and so much more.
I hope that this post finds you well and squeezing every drop of enjoyment out of the last few weeks of 2022. And as we naturally move into a season of stillness with the winter solstice coming up as well as the natural reflection of the New Year, it seems like the perfect time to share with you a frustration that turned into a soul stirring call to change my vocation...and to share with you a glimpse of what can be.
Side note - this isn't one of those limited time, must act now, FOMO messages that are currently flooding in via email and text. This new offering is here to stay and will be at this price point until the first day of spring - March 20, 2023.
I was introduced to the concept of a Gratitude Journal over a decade ago when I was struggling with burnout as a PA. The concept was simple - at the beginning of the day remind yourself that each day is a gift and that wonderful things are coming your way. And at the end of the day write down 3 things you are thankful/grateful for that are unique to that day.
That's the key word. You can't keep repeating your kids and significant other and pets. The reason? This limitation makes your mind reach and stretch and find new things each day. Weird things. Things like being happy you saw the pile of cat vomit before you stepped in it or finding gratitude that the impatient person driving behind you did NOT hit you - instead of focusing on the fact that he almost did!
Additionally actually writing these down helps cement the feeling in your mind - and who doesn't love a groovy notebook? I just found a site.....but I digress.
I invite you to pause reading and grab a dedicated notebook and pen. Think about a place you could keep them to be visual reminders to use them each and every night starting tonight. Do you need a reminder on your phone? I did until it became a habit. When would be a good time to spend 5 minutes in quiet reflection on your day to not only document your gratitude but also sink into that yummy feeling while you write it down? Could you dedicate a few minutes each day until the end of the year to give your brain time to gently retrain how it phrases your day's events? It may not be easy...I think around day 3 I hit a brick wall trying to find happy things. Now, I can often fill my quota before lunch!
Now that you are back, please feel free to read on about the epiphany that changed the course of my life.
The most frustrating thing to me as a patient was having bothersome symptoms - ones so bad that I went to that annual physical JUST to talk about them. Of course, the doctor agreed to run some of the labs on my list (never all of them - insurance limitations, ya know?), but the call back was always "everything looks fine"...and that was the end of the investigation.
The door was closed. Labs were 'fine'. So I guess I was too?!? I sure didn't feel that was true. But conventional medicine didn't have anything for me since I wasn't sick enough for a diagnosis. This cycle continued for years with symptoms increasing and answers feeling like they were slipping further and further away. My health felt like these grains of sand...where was I going to be when they were all gone?
I kept being given the advice to do the VERY same things that I had already told the doctor I was trying to do without results: eat less; exercise more; lose weight. The final straw when those exact notes were put in my chart with a new doctor who I had told flat out "I've cleaned up my diet to the point that nothing is left to change. I am exercising 5 days a week, but nothing is improving - I'm just exhausted all the time now. And weight loss seems less likely than finding a unicorn in my living room when I go home".
There wasn't much to be grateful for it seemed. I felt like this balloon - I wanted to soar and feel amazing, but I was just deflated and sad.
And then, on a day full of struggles and low on inspiration for gratitude, it hit me. I was grateful for the lack of answers and abundance of questions. I was thankful for those doctors who blew off my concerns. I was overjoyed that I wasn't sick enough to have a diagnosis, but also stubborn enough to not accept 'fine' as being good enough for me.
My friends, that's why I started this functional wellness journey - for myself, my family, and now you!
And just like in the image, I couldn't see the road ahead of me...but I knew what was behind me and was happy to be heading a new direction.
You see, the truth is that the conventional medical community looks at labs VERY different than the functional medical community.
And we both have our strengths.
Your doctor can diagnosis a disease and put together a treatment plan - maybe even one that saves an organ or your your life. They are amazing at emergency and life threatening situations, and I always recommend having a physician look at your labs especially when results are out of conventional range. But because of how the system is structured, most physicians stop there and don't progress to uncovering the reason and work to reverse it nor do they (typically) raise a red flag about a brewing problem when there is still time to easily reverse it.
But a functional medicine approach to labs is very different. We look at relationships and look for balance...or a lack thereof.
You see, those very same labs you get at an annual physical hold a lot of clues. When you look at them in a functional light, you can see imbalances and places that suggest that your system is struggling BEFORE that struggle gets so profound that an illness can be diagnosed by your doctor.
The most common diseases in our country are lifestyle driven, and they don't come out of the blue. For example, there are clues to type 2 diabetes for years, even decades, before numbers climb out of the reference range and you get a label applied to you. In these annual labs, we can see how your adrenals are responding to your life, if you are digesting and absorbing the food you eat, and if you are actually hydrating your body with all of that water you drink, and more. We can even see signs of specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
These everyday annual labs help me put together a plan to strengthen those weak spots and help your body rebalance as well as develop a customized plan with you to address lifestyle choices that may be standing in the way of your best health.
Together your physician and I can make a formidable team for your health.
I'm so happy to announce a new stair step into this health journey for you - one that shines a light on your labs in a new way AND correlates them with your symptoms. It's the first step to a full comprehensive review, and you can apply the cost towards that comprehensive review if you decide you want to take the next step. It's also a good first step if you are looking at a group program because it gives you more insight into YOUR unique needs and challenges as well as your strengths.
I invite you to schedule your Introductory Level Health Review with Labs today and get the most information you can out of those labs you have!