How Functional Medicine Saved & Changed My Life

My medical records could fill up several filing cabinets spanning several decades. From mysterious rashes, cerebral edema, hypoglycemia, psoriasis, and most recently over the last 5 years Lyme disease and Chronic Inflammatory Syndrome. The long lineup is a painful list including infectious disease, rheumatology, endocrinology, cardiology, pulmonology, chiropractic, internal medicine….and too many more to count. Been there, done it.

You can say I’ve been around the block a few times with just about every kind of medical specialist there is.

Seeing upwards of 20+ different doctors and specialists in the span of 5 years I have grown a new appreciation for waiting room décor, overhead music, and warm smiles from strangers. The five years of needle pricks, IV’s, lab draws, MRI’s, CT scans, emergency room visits filled my calendar replacing the social activities that used to crowd it. It’s been no easy feat, and in many ways I stand amazed that my heart is still beating. Lyme may not have killed me but lack of the will to keep on going almost did.

Sadly, I’m no stranger to this reality…there are millions suffering right now as I did too.

Just one in a large crowd of needy souls I was shuffled around in a broken medical system that segments our ailments into separate systems, prioritizes band aid solutions, and overcharges on behalf of greedy insurance companies. It’s a maze you don’t want to get lost in and a reality that is challenging to navigate. Your sense of autonomy is lost and you begin to feel like a lab rat in a science experiment. The alternative was to lay down and succumb to the ravishing effects of the Lyme that permeated every cell in my body.

Or was it?

I stumbled along for years desperately trying to find the will to survive. Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia I was offered pain medication, physical therapy, and told that my quality of life would never be the same. My cabinet was cleared out and prescription pills lined the shelves and overwhelmed my schedule trying to keep up with it all.

I figure that my physicians would make the connections and would properly diagnose me in no time.

I assumed they would understand why I felt horrible all the time and that the extreme dietary changes and targeted natural antimicrobials would help me feel slightly better. I was frustrated to hear my physicians communicate that diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors had little to do with my ailments. I was even more disturbed to later learn that the 2010 "Nutrition in Medicine" project surveying 127 accredited U.S. medical schools revealed that physicians receive around 20 hours of nutrition education in medical school. I was exhausted and fed up with a broken medical approach to health and sick care rather than healthcare.

I had reached a breaking point.

I was desperate for change. A friend who had witnessed my suffering introduced me to the Functional Medicine approach when she recommended a new doctor. It was an introduction that not only saved my life but changed my life! Within the two hours of my first visit, I was asked a series of questions going all the way back to my childhood, examined top to bottom, and then met with the physician for an entire hour. I had grown quite accustomed to the 15-minute time frame I had with all previous physicians and rehearsing my whole life story summed up into a span of 5 minutes, so this was a little new to say the least!

Functional Medicine Changed My Health

Throughout my visit the physician took the time to ask about my environmental exposures, past and present medications, childhood health, diet and physical activity, relationships and stress and much more. In an attempt to find the root cause of my ailments my life was examined and laid completely bare. There I was telling my whole life story to someone who took the time to get a full and complete picture.

Someone who cared enough to sit with me and really listen.

I walked away from that first visit feeling that not only was my health about to radically change but my life as well. My mind was blown! Through a root cause approach rather than a pile of prescription medications my approach to healing had a new makeover. Removing that which was harming me and adding in that which my body needed my body was given the opportunity to do that which it was made to do…. heal.

For the first time in years my Lyme disease was properly diagnosed, environmental factors were addressed, and the approach to healing was comprehensive.

The Functional Medicine approach believes the body is made to thrive when health is addressed from not only the ground up but rather the roots up. Looking down below and factoring in how the mind, body, and spirit are all interconnected lends itself to total body transformation. For those of you not familiar with functional medicine, The Institute of Functional Medicine website describes it as “a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.”