Doctor, heal thyself

So yesterday I mentioned “firing” my doctor. I’d been seeing her for about five years, and rather liked her.  Then I broke my ankle, got mad, and lost almost 50 pounds. At my next scheduled physical, she congratulated me on my weight loss, and I commented that I was planning to maintain that weight for a while, but that I ultimately wanted to lose 10 more pounds (which I have since).
She looked at me and said, “Oh, you don’t want to lose any more weight!”

I blinked and looked at her. She looked back at me and informed me that my BMI (body mass index) was a number that I happened to know was far lower than what it actually was. Let’s see…I knew how much I weighed and how tall I was, and so did she. She had medical training, and I did not. Yet I was the only one in the room who apparently knew how to read a BMI chart. At this point in the story, I feel it’s appropriate to mention that she was overweight, bordering on obese.

When I left the appointment, I was fuming, for three good reasons:

  1. My faith in the medical profession, which so far had not done wrong by me, was sorely bruised by this example of ineptitude.
  2. Someone who should know better AND could stand to lose some of her own weight told me I was too thin, when I was not, by every objective standard. Even at my current weight, I have a reasonable buffer before I cruise into the “underweight” category on the BMI charts.
  3. I was going to have to find a new doctor, which is always a big hassle. 
It took me a lot of research and word-of-mouth inquiries, but I finally found a doctor I could relate to. She’s my age, in great shape, and totally understood me when I looked her in the eye and said I was 100 percent dedicated to doing whatever it takes to make sure that when I am 70 years old, I am not taking a handful (or worse, a medicine cabinet full) of prescription medication. Prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I am all about prevention.
In fact, I am so crazy about prevention that I’ve just expanded my healthcare roster. I’m going to start seeing a naturopathic physician. I’ve long had a dual respect for both conventional western medicine and alternative medicine, because I think they both have good things to bring to the healthcare table. But I’ve never sought out alternative care before now.

My poor body been under assault lately, what from major abdominal surgery (along with the general anesthesia and narcotic pain meds) plus the problem that made surgery necessary in the first place. I want to make sure I am doing everything I need to do to support my healing. I also need to get to the bottom of a mystery: When I was in the emergency room, the blood tests they ran revealed that I was low in potassium. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Me? The person who eats more fruits and vegetables in a day than most people eat in a week? How is that possible?

Anyway, I know that clinical nutrition is an important part of the curriculum for naturopathic medicine students, unlike their allopathic (traditional western) medicine counterparts. And the irony is that while I’ve been studying nutrition on my own for some time, I have yet to study it formally (still building the foundation with all those chemistry and biology classes I’m taking). So I’m not quite up to the task of treating myself in analytic detail.

I’m actually pretty excited about the appointment. I’ve been doing more reading about naturopathic medicine, and it really promotes optimal wellness. Since I’m a really healthy person*, this seems right up my alley. Stay tuned.

* OK, sure. I tend to break ankles, injure shoulders, require surgery, and could use a frequent user punch card for the ER, but I can’t remember the last time I had the flu (and that’s without getting the flu shot), and I didn’t have a cold once last winter, even though I took mass transit every day and sat in classes with a bunch of sneezing and coughing students.