The allopathic medical student that I am was taught to follow evidence-based algorithms for unveiling clinical mysteries. Considering that implies we are also taught numerous different diseases to fit those protocols, the hypochondriac that med school brought out in me, had a few health scares recently. Despite knowing the epidemiology of terminal diagnoses in my demographic group, I still took my symptoms (for simplicity I’ll just say some swollen lymph nodes) and found a way to trace them through these protocols to come up with cancer diagnoses left and right. Luckily, I had enough sense to be calmed by a history, physical exam and CBC (complete blood count) with a PCP (primary care doctor). I mean, who knows, I could still have cancer. After all, technically we all have cancer cells in our bodies at all time (yes, future blog entry waiting to happen), but the only diagnosis that was concrete after this ordeal was “stressed med student syndrome”. Yes, I made that up and it won’t be found in Robbin’s Pathology, but it fits the bill perfectly. In fact, even without a methodologically ideal research study, I feel confident in saying it’s a very prevalent condition among this population. I decided to flip this over-darmatization into a better cause and make myself into an example of self-healing.
I believe my “hippie-ish" habits are contributors to an overall healthy lifestyle and probably keep my stress in check… most of the time. However, I feel motivated to take my self-health to a new level. How so, you ask? Again, the details are a future blog entry you’ll have to wait for. For now, I’ll describe these changes as even more intense nutrition and lifestyle modifications. The intensity refers to the increased commitment of learning, cooking and overall doing. Trying to “clean up my act” on the health front is really just another inquiry. Will this way of life work for me? Will I feel better? Will I like it? Will I stick with it?
And, yet again, through the process of questioning, I’ve discovered what matters most is in the moment. In this moment, I feel empowered. I’m proud of myself for taking strides to a healthier lifestyle, for wanting to take control of my own health, for committing to something regardless of the time investment it is on top of already existing time restraints in my current schedule and for just plain trying something new. Go me!
As for future potential, from a scientific standpoint, there are too many confounding variables here to assess accurately. I could end up feeling better solely based on my newfound empowerment. Improvements in my health could be spontaneously correlated (after all, this is an experiment with a lonely sample size of 1). I could even end up a subject included only as “intention to treat” as there’s no current certainty I’ll stick with these changes “to a T” (in fact, it’s almost certain that I won’t as lifestyle should change, in my opinion). Perhaps that empowerment of this moment is enough on its own to feed into potential future positive effects? I believe that some of these considerations, or confounders, such as self-empowerment and change of lifestyle habits in general, in fact are at the root of what many people call “hippie” medicine. Others may call it, integrative medicine. However, does that make it any less significant (even if not speaking in terms of statistical P-values)?
So, I pose to you… considering one would assure to the best of their ability no obvious major risks or harms; does the possibility of future outcome of an action matter as much as the certainty of positive outcome that exists in the present moment?