Why I Help People and those with Diabetes, and How I Got Here
I grew up in southern Oregon, in a blue collar town of loggers, mill workers and truckers. It was a good place to grow up. We lived on 10 acres and my dad had a dozen race horses. All year long, my nose ran like a spigot when I had to muck (clean) the horse stalls. Instead of allergy shots, I was taken to an 'alternative' doctor. He ended my allergies to hay (literally hayfever) in a couple treatments.
Having played high school football, I had my share of injuries. For that and other unrelated conditions, I saw that doctor from time to time and he always made a huge difference in my health.
My mother, God rest her soul, suffered from multiple nervous breakdowns when I was in grade school. I would stay with a friend, often for weeks, just being told Mom was going away for a while. Actually, my mom was sent to the Oregon state hospital....the same one as in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". She had that same Electro Shock Treatment. It made me sob, thinking of my mom when I watched that movie. When Mom was released she lacked her passion and personality. After several trips to that hospital, my dad could not take 'her erratic behavior', so he divorced. He told me you need to marry someone 'strong'.
I had a talent for school. I graduated top of my class in high school and got a scholarship to Oregon State University with plans to be a builder. I earned a degree in Civil Engineering and worked in California building large oil tanks and water pipelines. But the job just didn't satisfy my need to make a positive contribution to society. I needed something more tangible, more personal and with more profound results.
Thankfully, when I was in college, my mom found a very special doctor. He was very thorough and worked holistically, although trained as an internist. His tests showed that she had suffered from a prior stroke. The symptoms had precipitated her nervous breakdown. The doctor had found the root cause of her mental instability. He supported her cardiovascular system and she recovered her sense of humor, personality and passion and went on to enjoy the remaining years of her life.
Witnessing my mother's return to life changed my idea of health. Looking for the underlying cause agreed with my logical engineering training. I also thought health care should be focused on wellness. So I became a doctor of chiropractic, like the one that stopped my allergies. Again, I graduating the top of my class.
Early in my career, I focused on sports injuries, fitness and endurance enhancement. I treated athletes from high school to professional and Olympians. I did triage at the Ironman in Hawaii and delivered a lecture to the International Endurance Sports Symposium on naturally enhancing endurance performance. This paper drew attention from researchers in Asia and Europe.
Then I had a patient that forever changed my focus on health. She looked like Catherine Hepburn. She was tall, attractive, intelligent, had a sharp wit and she carried herself with a regal posture. She had a limp from her hip that made her self-conscious, caused by bone degeneration secondary to Diabetes. She met a man who saw past her shyness and her disability. They said they both knew from first sight that they found their 'soulmates'. They married. Over the next four years of knowing her and her husband, she was as happy as could be.
However, her diabetes ravaged on, undeterred, and deteriorated her kidneys. They spent many nights at the hospital as she did dialysis. She and her husband came to our house for dinner after one of these long episodes. She excused herself from dinner and went out to the back yard to watch our young kids play. We all watched her in wonder from the window as she really connected with our kids. She passed two weeks later.
She really impacted me. At that time, I did not have the tools to help her, but she gave me the passion to search for those tools. I learned early in my training about ‘Functional Medicine’, which is not 'medicine' per se, but rather a paradigm of care for chronic health conditions. It's practiced by all pedigrees of doctors, MD's, DO's, DC's, ND's, and nurse practicioners and most of the doctors you see on PBS.
Functional medicine has many specialty areas of care....like diabetes. I have been studying and practicing this model since 1992. Now, after years of study and having helped countless patients, I significantly and routinely help many people with Type 2 Diabetes. For 'Catherine', I am forever grateful. I still see the athletes, mostly weekend warriors now and I see people of all ages for a variety of conditions, but I have a special passion for diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes is our country's number one health burden. Our current system FAILS to address this growing crisis. Did you know we rate 37th in the world in treating chronic health issues including Type 2 Diabetes. We are behind countries like Uganda and Nigeria. It's pitiful. Type 2 Diabetes kills twice as many people yearly than breast cancer and is attributed to nearly half of all heart disease, our nation's number one killer.
The problem is our model of care for chronic conditions is the same as our acute care model, like infections. The model is drugs. We take half the drugs used worldwide. That model just just doesn't work for chronic health conditions.
The Functional Medicine model does. Thankfully, many doctors before me set out to change this dilemma. Now, after years of study, 'practice', and a few discoveries of my own, I routinely see incredible outcomes among my patients...true healing. True wellness. True 'Health Care'. I also thank those few patients, that from time to time, really challenge me, driving my passion for continued learning and improvement.
I know my personal contribution to changing chronic health care is small, but it is important. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I applaud you for your determination to get healthy.