Changing Focus

Lyme disease and other tick borne infection started me down the path I am currently on. My hope was to finish my education, so that I may diagnose and treat sufferers like myself, in hopes they find some healing. But I may ultimately go in another direction.

Initially, I was rethinking my focus because I have recently become passionate about metabolic syndrome and all the associated diseases associated with it. Having fought weight problems on and off since high school, I knew, in my gut, something was wrong with the calories in-calories out (CICO) model. I knew metabolism was far more complicated than a simple mathematical equation. I knew from my very early biology classes that hormones were being ignored in the CICO approach. I just didn’t know how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Until now. Now, I have a better understanding, and I am applying that understanding to my own weight issues, and seeing results.

But I found something out recently. That other patients who are being treated by the same Lyme doc who helped me regain so much of my health, are visiting the EDs in the local area, looking for opioids to treat the pain associated with their illness. And when they bring up this doctor’s name to the MDs in the ED, eyes roll.

Now, I adore this Lyme doc. I think she is brilliant and I hope to learn all I can from her some day. However, I also don’t want to commit professional suicide before my career even takes off by potentially having patients that come to me for help, only to go to the ED looking for opioids, and then have my name associated with that. I do not believe opioids were ever designed to manage chronic pain. There is a law of diminishing returns with opioids, and I would rather focus on the root cause of the pain, fix it, rather than medicate it. To me, that feels like I failed somehow.

Now, this is NOT to discredit the patients who rely on these meds to treat intractable pain. If there are patients out there who manage to have a better quality of life because of them, I think that’s fantastic. But I will not be a practitioner who can manage those cases. I will not finish my education as an MD, and I would need to refer those patients to a doctor with whom I can collaborate with so that their pain is addressed appropriately, by the right professional, while I do what I hope to do to eliminate the root cause — the infection. I feel that pain on that scale would be out of my scope of expertise, and that would be unfair to me and my patient.

It’s upsetting because these ED docs do not know this Lyme doc like I do. They do not know of all her successes in returning patients to good health. They only know of those who come to the ED, looking for relief from their pain. And I dont want to be known among other professionals in that way either. I dont want eyes to roll when someone mentions my name to another medical professional.

When I first started down this path, I thought I knew my direction. It seems there are a few forks in the road coming my way, and I will need to make a decision on which path to take.

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