We Need Conventional and Functional Medicine

This is a personal story, a journal entry if you will. I'm writing this from bed. I have three, two-inch incisions in my abdomen and it takes most of my strength to sit up. I've been on prescription pain killers all weekend, there's some residual anesthesia running through me, I'm jumpy and uncoordinated but I got some sleep last night for the first time in three days. This is one of those times when rolling with a process that's out of my control is the only choice. 

The last two weeks in particular have been an ordeal of medical emergencies. First I had a cliff jumping accident the day before I was supposed to head to the East Coast for a visit. One disaster of a visit to an emergency room in Colorado Springs left me with no pain management beyond OTC ibuprofen and I told myself I could handle it. By the following night, ibuprofen wasn't enough. Despite reluctant cooperation when my boyfriend wanted to take me to another emergency room, I went because he was right that I couldn't handle the pain on my own.

Accepting help from others has been a huge theme for me since moving to Colorado in both tangible and spiritual ways. Once I gave in on what I couldn't handle myself, I got pain relief, caught some sleep, and made it home to the lake I grew up on. Came back to Denver, spent the week working on exams, everything was on the upswing. Then, went on a third trip to the emergency room except this time I asked to go. Three times is a charm, right? 

Some dull pain I had for a few days became excruciating in a matter of a couple hours on my lower right abdomen. It's neat to be studying functional nutrition and medicine right now because I'm getting better at self-diagnosing but I also fear becoming a hypochondriac sometimes. 

The scan to look at my appendix incidentally showed that I do in fact have a small spinal fracture from said cliff jumping accident, something x-rays from the week prior didn't quite see. Anyway, suspicions were right about my appendix. Around 4:45 in the morning I had my appendix removed. Not ideal, but sometimes I have to trust my intuition that what I believe in isn't always what I need. There wasn't time to risk using functional medicine for this one. Upon discharge I went home with incisions gluing my abdomen together and one less organ in-tow. It's tough to walk, eat, laugh, and sometimes breathe but I have had the best of care and I'm wildly thankful.

Since I haven't been sleeping (thank you, narcotics), I have had a lot of time to rationalize these experiences with myself. I also had time to get worked up about my period disappearing after these incidents, feeling my immune system be weak after surgery, the bouts of elevation sickness I've had recently, and viruses fought. As with most things, making space to heal is key. 

I think these experiences have softened and humbled me again in dealing with the human experience. Something I will need to practice compassionately next year when I get my MNT license. I notice a tendency in some functional medicine practitioners/advocates to totally disregard the conventional medical community and vice versa. I get that, because conventional medicine does tend to take a lot of extreme measures without considering the whole body or preventive care. I could go on for days about it. But on the flip-side, the methods of functional medicine don't always deliver timely or conveniently. There's a call for conventional medicine and functional medicine to both exist and to work together.

In short, I won't be jumping 20 feet off of a perfectly fine rock anytime soon. I will be treating my liver well and getting rest. I encourage you when you become frustrated with a new or unfamiliar situation to remember that there is often grace in both discretion and trusting intuition. And in regard to medicine, I'll leave you with some thoughts I mulled on from my bed. Weigh the options of emergency situations with your timeline in mind. What's reasonable for your pain management, well being, etc. Preventive care is the stronger suit for a good majority of functional medicine protocols, and that's where you'll find me trying to guide others in my career.