When I went to school the first time I knew I was going to do something health related to enhance human longevity. At first, with several degrees in Molecular and Cellular Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology, I felt I would be best served in clinical research. It was hard to hear, but without a Ph.D. in those fields, you are relegated to “taking out the trash” so to speak. I could find better employment income flipping burgers. Fortunately, I was able to roll those degrees into a pathology program as a clinical laboratory scientist. It was here I gained first-hand experience on how the medical system works, from direct trauma to chronic conditions and terminal diseases. It baffled me day after day how many patients came into the emergency room or remained in the hospital for conditions that were 90% preventable.
In questioning many of these patients after they were stable, many of them knew fast food wasn’t healthy, or that going and going without breaks was taking a toll, but rarely had any doctor or adjunct medical personnel sat down with them, explained how they got in their current condition and devised a plan of correction. I knew there had to be a better way.
I grew up as an overweight kid. Luckily, I could run fast and be quick with my brain. In second grade a lot changed. I was hit by a car while riding a bicycle and spent a great deal of time recovering from this traumatic brain injury. Fast forward to middle school. While playing football and being the running back I was clobbered by a man, well, not technically a “man” per se—he was 15 years old was 6’ 4” tall and weighed 240 lbs., which was close enough in my book. Looking back, that injury was a concussion but was before current concussion protocols. Before high school, I considered my options of getting clobbered more and instead played soccer and ran cross-country. I chose sports with less physical contact.
Running cross country, road races, triathlons, and track and field opened up a door to college I was never certain would come to fruition. When it became time to go to college there were numerous roadblocks in my way for programs for which on paper, I had qualified. I was too short and didn’t have a fast enough 400-meter time. Even though other times were on par, or above, for scholarships, my G.P.A. wasn’t a 4.0 and my extracurricular activities that included volunteer stats and an Eagle Scout with three palms were not merited enough to get into desired Pre-Med programs. Multiple times coaches told me I was too short, too slow and on one college visit to a Big 12 school, I was told I had no business being a doctor or even going to college. Believe it or not, I was told by one coach I should highly consider driving a bus.
I’m sharing this story because we all have challenges. How we respond to challenges defines us. I have yet to have a patient come into my office without them (challenges). Also, I have not had a single patient say, “I need this pain or brain fog to go away so I can be a better parent, spouse, employee, or be more productive,” but that’s really why people seek help. Rarely, it’s self-inflicted. Most of the time, it’s gaining the knowledge and education on how to make subtle changes that deliver big gains in your health that makes all the difference.