The scientific nature of medicine often tricks people into believing that doctors are so cerebral that they spend all day diagnosing and treating, without much regard for social factors which patients may bring into an appointment. However, it has been my experience that medicine is deeply rooted in connecting with others emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I realize that my personal journey as a physician is colored by the fact that I chose primary care as my post-graduate foundation, as well as the fact that I truly enjoy getting to know my patients. It is relatively common for me to discover that the “chief complaint” which brings a patient into the office is not the main concern the patient has. For example, I may have a patient come to me for evaluation of right shoulder pain and after 10 minutes of speaking with the patient find out that the patient hates her job, is suffering from insomnia and is exhausted from also caring for two small children and an ailing father. What ends up happening is that I will evaluate the shoulder, but will also discuss sleep hygiene and the importance of putting the oxygen mask on herself instead of giving all of her energy to her job, her children and her father. She certainly still has all those responsiblities, but when she neglects herself she drains herself of the potential energy she could be carrying to sustain herself and those she cares for.
Another common scenario is the patient who has gotten out of shape over the years and wants to make a change. These patients may come in for weight management, but in most cases they present to the office with a completely unrelated medical complaint. Almost invariably, I find out that the patient is overloaded, and also has difficulty committing to a specific regimen. This is yet another example of putting the oxygen mask over oneself, and is also a situation in which the patient needs to break the cycle of making excuses which serve as blockades to reaching ANY goals. The too-tired, too-busy, too-old excuses don’t fly with me at all. There is NO EXCUSE which justifies making regular visits to fast food restaurants, skipping meals regularly, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. It is important to realize that such habits are also rituals which the person has chosen to hang onto because they are familiar. It can be quite intimidating to manifest a major lifestyle shift because it requires a person to abandon old habits and patterns and undergo a complete change of mindset.
I honestly love helping people and take my role as an educator and healer very seriously. I also know that I can be a motivator, but only if I can successfully ferret out the psychological issues which hold people back from gaining true fulfillment in their lives.