It’s time to “Get Smart” about our health! I am Special Agent, Sue, and I am on a mission to learn about Integrative Medicine. This powerful path to wellness is not classified information, but navigating all the resources can be overwhelming. I will fight my way through to the details we all can use to be well. Since diagnosis (Stage IV Rectal Cancer) my plan has been to hunt down, not only the best team of agents, but investigate anything that might hinder “Operation Get Well”.
In addition to this job, I am a mom, so my days are filled with doctor appointments, running errands, and spending time with my kids….you know …life. While carrying out my daily assignments, I had a meeting with someone of particular interest. It was a scheduled appointment and recommendation I received through my oncologist. I have been anxious to meet this “special agent” for some time and yesterday was the day. I could not be happier or more grounded in this discovery I’ve made about my “care team” and this new doctor elevates my confidence in my future, like no other. “Operation Get Well” is a go.
The practice is Integrative Medicine and the “special agent” that heads up this area is Dr. Russ Greenfield. The Center of Integrative Medicine defines Integrative Medicine (IM) as “healing-oriented medicine that takes account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapies.” Dr. Russ was a conventional MD before he became a leader in this practice. IM does not dismiss conventional medicine, but integrates the two for optimal wellness.
When I first walked into his office, he was excited to share a website he had found – it was http://www.longdistancehero.com. My blog!!!! THOUGHTFUL! Taking the time to acknowledge my efforts as a survivor was so exciting. His willingness to learn about me and my journey spoke volumes.
We’re now sitting at the conference room table and ready to get down to business. My hour and a half consultation was my time to suck as much knowledge out of this doctor as possible. That’s how we approach doctor appointments…. right? Not this one! Our visit was a relaxed, exciting conversation that rejuvenated my soul. The topics on the table were diet, supplements, spirituality, rest, and exercise… My Wellness! Since the focus of IM includes all aspects of a person’s lifestyle we had a lot of ground to cover. I will break these down into multiple blogs as my “mission” unfolds.
We started our discussion with diet and that is what I’d most like to share today. I have heard many times that the focus in healthcare is to cure the sick, but the current focus is shifting to being and staying well. I have a terminal disease, but I am in the best shape of my life. Clearly, that makes no sense, or does it? I can be well, but still have a disease.
On to the diet. Do not panic… this is not a “diet” in the true sense of the word… I am going to call it “Gastronomic lifestyle Enjoyment Modification”. I am Italian and the essence of our being is food… we use it to celebrate, comfort us, and it’s always an excuse to get together. Well you are not about to take away the very thing that makes this soul happy. Instead, it’s dietary awareness and the ability to heal through food. I have practiced this since diagnosis and Dr. Russ and I were meeting to go over this wellness plan to make sure that it will not interfere with the chemo.
So the first thing Dr. Russ wanted to clear up before we talked food is that he doesn’t believe in a “diet of disallowance”. Can I have an Amen please! Now we’re talking… and we did … for an hour and here’s a little of what I learned.
Most of us do not eat as well as we should. We intentionally commit gastronomic crimes on occasion…and we usually get away with them. Now there is nothing wrong with splurging on a special meal…I mean go big or go home. The question is how often are you stealing cookies from the processed food jar? They are making TV shows about it, that are meant to be entertaining… Biggest Loser, among others. What the doctors in the practice of Integrative Medicine have found is that many of the food choices we make create internal inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation is an open door for many diseases, cancer being one of them. So a focus on anti-inflammatory foods is one of the many tickets to board the train to being well, reducing internal inflammation, and reducing chronic illness. Now this isn’t a magic bullet, this is not temporary… this is a lifestyle change. So hop on board… we are going for a ride.
If you choose to accept this mission, you will be transported (not literally…sorry) to an international location where eating and drinking and being in the moment is a way of life. Of the places I choose…top on my list are ones known for food….Italy and Greece are top on my list. A Mediterranean diet is gastronomic lifestyle enjoyment at it’s best. It’s all about relaxing, eating well, being in the moment, and enjoying food and friends. Now take this image and head back to home base… you have some work to do.
And so ” Operation Get Well” begins. Out with the processed foods and in with the foods nature intended for us to eat… fruits, and veggies being the largest part of what we incorporate into our diets. Whole and Cracked grains, Pasta (al dente) and beans. The list goes on and finishes with red wine and dark chocolate… again how awesome is this mission!!!! I encourage all agents to refer to Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. Here’s the thing… take this slowly. Only modify one or two elements at a time. Becoming overwhelmed with this pyramid or lifestyle change may create stress and frustration and when it does, your automatic response will be to abort the mission. Dr. Russ was very clear about this in our meeting and I couldn’t agree more.
We are so very fortunate to have “Special Agent” Dr. Russ here in Charlotte. If you or anyone you know is battling cancer or any number of chronic illnesses and have an interest in incorporating Integrative Medicine and Conventional Medicine as path to being well, please go to Dr. Russ Greenfield’s website. If I am lucky enough to have this blog travel further than the Queen City, go to Dr. Russ’s Healthy Resources page. The ‘Integrative Medicine’ links at the bottom of the page will take you to websites allowing you to find other doctors across the country that have studied this amazing practice.
Wishing you wellness.