If you read my story you may remember me mention functional medicine. I’ve already had some questions about what it is, how do I find a practitioner, so on and so forth. so I figured I’d lay it all on the line for you guys about my first appointment and my opinions of Functional Medicine (FM) as a whole.
We’ve all experienced those stereotypical Dr’s appointments. The nurse calls you back into a cold room where she weighs you. You always ask if you should take your shoes off, like that’s going to make a difference. The nurse then asks if you’ve started taking any new medication or if you may be pregnant. After all the questions have been answered they slowly back out of the room and tell you the doctor will be with you in a moment, yea…right. Usually, you end up sitting on a cold table in a backless dress for twenty minutes hoping every last twitch of the door handle will be your salvation. Only to have the doctor see you for five minutes and promptly walk out. Take this whole situation I’ve described above, crumple it up, and throw it in the trash. FM is nothing like this, especially when it comes to appointments.
Every time I go to see my FM Dr. I see her and only her for at least an hour. Yes, you read that right my doctor sits with just me for an entire hour. FM is a holistic approach to medicine. They care just as much about your mental and spiritual health as they do any physical symptoms. This requires a lot of insight into how your feeling and what you’re thinking.
Before my first appointment I had to fill out a questionnaire. These questions ranged from have you ever had any surgeries (typical) to how satisfied are you with your mental health (not so typical). These answers were then sent to my Doctor two days before our appointment so they could be reviewed and my time at the appointment could be used wisely. Before I even walked in the door there was more attention put on me than any other Doctor I had ever seen.
When I arrived that day my Dr. spent the first fifteen minutes doing a basic physical: weight, blood pressure, heart beat, etc. Then we simply sat and talked. She wanted to know what I wanted to get out of this whole experience, why I had come to see her. My answer was very cut and dry. I wanted to see if the monster in my head (my phobia) was causing all of these digestive symptoms or if there was actually something more I could be doing to heal my body. For someone with anxiety or a fear/phobia there is nothing more terrifying than to think everything is all in your head. I needed to know once and for all is this something physically I can work on, or did I truly need to focus heavily on my mental state.
She said I seemed very healthy to which I agreed with her. However, she said the symptoms I described were not normal. It was stressed to me how many people just assume casual stomach upset is the norm, when it’s usually not. Most of the time there is an underlying cause to the problem. I was handed multiple sheets detailing tests I was to have done (my Dr. does no blood draws in her office) most of them were blood panels and one was extra fun. She handed me a box, in this box were test tubes, gloves, Ziploc bags, and french fry baskets you get from the bowling alley. I was to gather ‘specimens’ of my daily bathroom habits for three days. Oh, and they had to be refrigerated. The monster in my head fought with this notion. She wanted me to put poop in my fridge! Next to my food! Needless to say it got its own shelf which was thoroughly deep cleaned after the ordeal was over.
I could complete the tests in my own time and once all the results were in we would sit down again and go over every result line by line to find our course of action. I left that appointment feeling nervous but so very excited. I was taking control of a situation I had thought was uncontrollable. Much of my anxiety revolved around that exact feeling, being out of control. This was empowering, I could feel the monster cowering away from this knowledge. Maybe I could get it to be quiet for good.
A word of caution to this tale (90’s kid name that Disney movie!) as I said FM is a holistic approach. Because of this it is not a one size (or one pill) fits all solution. This approach can take months or sometimes years to have a concrete picture of what is affecting you. It also requires you to work on all areas of your being not just the physical ailments. FM is based on the concept that everything: mental, spiritual, physical, is related and if one area isn’t at optimum health the others will eventually fail. Common suggestions for a “prescription” when you leave your appointments might be meditating or doing yoga, or deep breathing. This course is truly a journey and a complete lifestyle change. Don’t let that scare you away! Take the chance and find out if this route is right for you.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with FM or if you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them. I’ve listed out some helpful links below if you would like to deep dive into some information.
How do I find a practitioner? I found mine here.
I want to learn more about FM where do I go? Here is the Institute for Functional Medicine‘s website. There’s lot of great information there!