Musings of a family doc starting her own direct primary care practice while fumbling around trying to raise a plant-based family
This story is shared with the permission of my patient, who is de-identified here
Mrs. M is a tough cookie, a strong-willed woman in her 50's with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and a bit overweight. She had been working like crazy for many years in the service industry and was exhausted, thankfully she was ready to retire and sell her business. I initially saw her in September for an acute visit because her feet were hurting---again.
Gout had been flaring up so much over the past several months that a once active woman on her feet was suddenly wearing a boot and couldn't walk without excruciating pain.
I didn't understand why her gout suddenly had been getting worse. Why now? I only had 30 minutes allotted for the visit, but I dove deep.
Turns out she'd been started on a medication the previous fall for her blood pressure which is known to increase the chances of gout. So i took her off of it, and we increased the other one she was already on.
Once we got her gout flare under control, we sat down at her return visit and I asked her, "How do you think your lifestyle plays into your gout flares?"
The led us to a conversation with her and her husband that lasted about 40 minutes. I ended up recommending 1 thing: watch the Forks over Knives documentary and when we meet again next week, we can talk.
She was completely floored. As for most people (including myself), the documentary was eye-opening.
From that time on, we met or talked regularly, doing intensive therapeutic lifestyle counseling. She dove right in to making changes: finalizing the retirement, taking a fun road-trip with her husband, and learning as much as possible about how to incorporate more plants into her diet.
Fast forward to today. She came into clinic for a follow-up, about 2 months since we first started working together. No more gout flares. Her blood pressure was normal despite having run out of her BP med for the past 2 days. She has drastically cut down on animal products and dairy, she cooks fresh food, is mindful about her relationship with food, and has become present and engaged in decreasing her stress levels in her new life. Her labs are the proof in the non-dairy pudding
When I had initially met her, I didn't know what to expect from this no-nonense woman who had given all of herself for so many years to her job. But today, as I was leaving the clinic room, she stood up and hugged me, saying "Thank you for having faith in me."
She's the one who had faith, trust, and patience, in herself and in me as her doc, and I am filled with gratitude to be a part of her journey.