I recently visited a naturopathic doctor. This was a first for me as I tend to cling to western medicine and its fondness for cutting or removing part of my body as a solution, but I was at wits end (dimwit’s end in my case) because I was told to expect a wait of up to a year to see a Canadian internal medicine specialist who might tell me why every day felt like the end of an epic drinking binge that never took place.
The naturopathic doctor asked a lot of questions, which is hard for me as I enjoy making fun of myself but otherwise feel that I am the least interesting topic in the room. When he had exhausted his questions, without any pokes, prods, thermometers, measurements or blood pressure cuffs, he opened a file drawer, gave a high level view of what he saw as the problem, and pulled out his recommended diet.
Already feeling lousy, I felt even worse as he walked me through the diet. It said, among other things: NO dairy, grains, caffeine, rice, potatoes (any kind), sugar, tropical fruit, juice or, of course, alcohol. To look at it from another angle, I could eat meat, green vegetables and, presumably, bark from a tree.
I tried to buy time while I planned my exit. “So, this diet would be really hard for me because I don’t eat red meat, or pork.”
“Well, there’s chicken and fish.”
“Sure,” I replied, “but half of my household won’t eat fish and loses their mind if I stink up the house making it.”
“Hmmm. Well, there’s the vegetables.”
I wanted to say how Thing #1 would feel about a triple serving of green vegetables for dinner every night but was distracted when he picked up his clipboard and kept asking questions.
“Do you burp?”
“Hmmm. Do you ever pass gas?”
I almost said “only socially” but instead flipped the script and asked him, “Don’t tell me you’re never supposed to burp, or fart.”
His expression, already serious, took a dark turn for the worse. “Never,” he replied.
The look in my eyes must have suggested that I wanted to continue to question his theory. He shut it down by putting his clipboard on the desk and asking me how I would like to pay for my visit.
Not ready to capitulate, I asked him, “What’s the success rate of this diet? I mean, how many people actually stick with it?”
He grinned, probably thinking about a field of green vegetables, and said, “Oh, it’s a really hard diet—one of the most difficult I’ve constructed.” I wanted to point out that he had not answered the question, but the look on his face told me I’d received the answer he was willing to give.
I paid, reluctantly, and actually stuck with the diet for three days. I felt worse by the end of the third day than I had to begin with and secretly wished foul things on those around me who continued to drink coffee, eat cheese and other basic consumption that make life worth living.
I was saved when I received a call regarding an appointment in a few days with an internal medicine specialist. I happily accepted, but also asked how this was happening eleven+ months early. The nurse told me that the last physician I had seen coded me urgent/abnormal (which makes sense on several levels). As a precautionary measure (in that it kept me from doing harm to others) I proactively quit the diet of the naturopathic doc and went to the hospital a few days later for my appointment.
The physician already had my ample medical history on her system. We spent about twenty minutes running through her detailed list of questions based on my history, and then she took my vital signs.
At the end she turned to me and said, “We’re going to need bloodwork, a lot of bloodwork, and we’re going to need to see how your heart and circulatory system perform when you’re on a treadmill.”
I almost let the moment pass but decided this was the time to pull out the piece of paper with the diet recommended by the naturopathic doc. The physician’s eyes widened as she read through it. A few moments later, she politely handed it back to me.
“I already quit this diet,” I said, a little nervous about how she would respond.
“That’s very understandable.”
“So, you’re fine with me eating normally?”
“A well rounded diet with moderation as the focus is a good idea.”
Feeling better by the second, I repeated the high-level diagnosis given by the naturopathic doctor. The physician nodded and said, “I agree that might be the issue, but it can’t be fixed by diet.”
With a newfound respect for the fact that the naturopathic doc had apparently arrived at the same, or a least similar conclusion without the benefit of my files, imagery or vital signs, I went out into the rainy parking lot and also gave thanks that the trees I saw around me that would now, courtesy of the traditional medicine physician, not become part of my dinner.