How to Use a Functional Medicine Practitioner

I have visited this subject in previous blogs but I have just read a very interesting case study of two patients with horrible fibromyalgia issues and I think the subject must be broached again and again. If you or anyone you know suffers from the wracking pain of fibromyalgia and the resulting exhaustion of the accompanying chronic fatigue you, too, would feel my fervor regarding the subject of functional medicine/integrative medicine. However, everyone or better said anyone with medical issues such as autoimmune disorders, cardiac issues, infertility, cancer, etc. can benefit from seeing a functional medicine practitioner, a licensed MD who specializes in functional/integrative medicine and will from here on out be referred to as a FMP.

Typically when a person visits their general practitioner or even a nurse practitioner the medical person will look at a brief medical history of the patient they see before them. They will have been given no more than 15 minutes to visit with this person and provide a diagnosis and I am told sometimes the doctor never takes their hand off the door knob. How much thinking or caring goes in to a diagnosis given on the run? The easiest path is always the path of least resistance and hardly anyone will or can resist taking a miraculous little pill, so guess what? This medical person will reach in to their pocket and pull out a pad of paper, scratch some words on it, sign it, give it to you with instructions to take it to your pharmacy of choice and send you on your way.

Do you know (or have you experienced it personally) that some people end up taking pharmaceutical products that actually counteract each other? Or that they end up with a cupboard full of pharmacy products that are costing them (or us) a bomb but they haven’t even addressed the medical issue? The case study I just read was depressing as these two women had been put on psychiatric medicines, pain medicines, acid reflux medicines, etc. (and I am not exaggerating about the etc.) and still their symptoms did not abate and both cases got much worse. They both thought they were losing their minds and the medical people they saw corroborated their suspicions instead of doing the right thing.

This is the point where you as the patient have to have done your homework. You have to understand that this physician means well but medicine is a big business now and there are bills to be paid and equipment to be used to pay those bills, so they want to use them be it in a surgical setting or elsewhere. They don’t or won’t take time to thoroughly examine your situation and if and when you start asking questions (because you have done your homework) they will get irritated and downright rude. I have heard that people are told “you aren’t a doctor” or “do not mention that name again in this office” if they ask questions or mention people like Joe Mercola. If this ever happens to you, excuse yourself, grab your clothes and leave. Go home, turn on your computer, Google “Functional Medicine Practioners” and make an appointment with the one nearest to your location.

Why? You will instantly see the difference because the first thing you will do is fill out a health history like no other you have ever filled out. I seem to remember that Dr. Rob Bruley’s was 24 pages long and included questions like “Do you clear your throat often?” or “Have you experienced any major life changes recently?” right down to the number of daily bowel movements you experience. These questions will be carefully examined by your FMP before you are even seen in the office and a course of action will only take place after you have also had at least one hour and a half appointment in their office, face to face. Don’t be taken aback by the offer of a glass of water, or even a tissue to wipe away your tears of relief. Someone is finally listening to you and they don’t even have their fingers on the door knob.

Next the FMP will try to make things better as soon as possible but this may not be an overnight solution. They may prescribe pharmaceutical products to temporarily alleviate your anxiety or pain, after all they are MDs, so they do understand that once in awhile a pill really does help. What they will do that your GP doesn’t do is try to find the underlying problem not just apply a bandaid that will eventually fail and leave you with a gaping hole again filled with aches and pains that will require one more pill with all of its side effects and conditions. You will most likely have a full blood panel ordered, a 4 stage stool test, mucosal barrier tests and heavy metal tests. You may also need an Estronex test or Cortisal/DHEA test or even an Iodine loading test. The tests requested by the FMP will depend on how you filled out that lengthy questionaire and what tests they feel will peel off the layers and expose the underlying cause of your problem. Your insurance may or may not pay for all the tests but if you are seriously ill the cost of the tests is nothing when compared to giving in and losing this battle altogether. Don’t forget there are a plethora of case studies out there where people have sought treatment, been given treatment at great expense, the treatment fails and they go bankrupt trying to pay for failed allopahtic care. Bite the bullet and pay for the tests you need it will be cheaper in the long run.

Once the tests results are back your FMP will schedule up to 3 hours of time to thoroughly discuss a plan of action. You will walk out of the office feeling drained (admittedly of money as well as emotions) but positive. Someone has listened to you, taken action and hope reigns anew. In the case of these two women in the study I read they had both suffered for years with paralyzing pain, dizziness and anxiety. They both were on some of the strongest pain meds you can take and neither one got relief without increasing the strength or adding this pill or that pill and those just exacerbated other issues. When they finally found a FMP and followed through with recommended tests they found that they were both taking zero pharmaceutical products, their pain was gone and their future rosy. Just in case you are interested, one had undiagnosed autoimmune thyroiditis and the other had a bacteria that was harbored in the mucosal lining of her intestinal tract. Both patients were treated in very different ways despite having the same issue of fibromyalgia and both had successful outcomes.

When considering this recommendation remember I am a lay person just like you, I am not a doctor. I have health concerns much the same as you do and I see a FMP because he was the only one who understood that I understood and would listen to me and work with me. He was never threatening or condescending and I can honestly say I have never seen his fingers touch a door knob for anything except to keep  our discussion private and to allow me to leave when I feel all questions have been addressed.

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