Friday, January 15, 2010

The F in Function

Yes, that's the F word of the day. Function. Although I'm frustrated as well, mainly on the subject of food and the elimination diet I'm to undertake, as per my new doctor's orders, for 3 weeks starting today. Elimination diets consist of fruits, vegetables, grains and a few select meats. That's it! Alcohol, caffeine, and dairy, among some other vices, are not allowed. If all goes according to plan and the next three weeks show signs of improvement, I'm to keep up the plan for one year. ONE freakin' YEAR.

After months of research, consideration, procrastination, and even a blog post on the topic, I finally booked an appointment with a practitioner trained in Functional Medicine. There were only a handful of them in the area and I quickly ran into issues: some doctors were not accepting insurance and another couldn't even put me on a waitlist! A prominent Philadelphia practice required a $575 consultation fee. Another in Montgomery County was charging $250 but believed my insurance would reimburse me at least partially. Yikes! I scored big time when a doctor in my little town of 3,000 Narbs happened to have a dual practice, which meant that I'd only need to make a co-payment. $20 for a functional medicine consult? And I could walk to the doctor's office! Cha ching!

I've often been asked about the differences between functional and traditional medicine. Here's the cliff notes version:

FM looks at the person (work, environment, relationships, nutrition...) and how the body systems function as a whole. Conventional medicine generally involves a diagnosis and treatment of symptoms and is typically broken down into specialties (liver doctor, heart doc, etc...). FM looks for underlying causes of symptoms. FM also explores balances/imbalances within the body. Is a vitamin/mineral deficiency the cause of a symptom in a patient? Would he/she benefit from a probiotic? Is their diet making them sick? Etc...Etc...

I have my own case in point. I had been breaking out for several months for no apparent reason and my dermatologist, without asking anything about diet or considering hormone testing prescribed me a 3 month supply of antibiotics. I wanted to know why I was having this problem and felt the antibiotic would simply mask the real issue(s). My primary doctor at the time (who was not an FM doctor but happened to think and test like them) ordered a blood test for food sensitivities and found that I was producing antibodies to certain foods. Eliminating foods required more work on my part but was much safer than taking an antibiotic.

My current elimination diet is pretty similar to the one Olivia and I did in August 2008 but this one will last much longer. And I won't have anyone to commiserate with. While this new food plan will be good for me, I couldn't get the other F word out of my head as I strolled through the aisles of Whole Foods this morning. I was thinking of the not so great parts of the plan:

* It's hard to go it alone
* Eating out won't be as easy
* Dates will probably look at me funny

Then I thought about the good parts:

* I've done this food plan before and know what to expect (hello temptation!)
* I'll rebuild my intestinal wall (this might be the sexiest thing I have ever written) :P
* I'll strengthen my immune system, which has been compromised, and prevent bigger health issues down the road (fingers crossed).

Alright, that's enough negativity for one day. I'm off to find my friend Will Power. :)


Olivia said...

I may be far away, but I'm overhauling my diet (again), too. Not nearly as severe, but I am here for any and all pep talks!

I am SO proud of you!

Susan said...

You can do this!! Write out all the good parts and post them to remind yourself every day about why you need to do this. :-)