Increasingly, I’m seeing increasingly bizarre diseases. What are the effects of bizarre foods and medicines that we are giving to people? Conditions like systemic erythematous lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia are escalating in incidence and severity and they are getting more bizarre than ever
A young man shows up, complaining of 3 years of disability due to generalized, diffuse, ill described pains that started after an ankle injury. After a simple ankle surgery he started to have pain almost everywhere in his body, back, neck, hips, elbows, hands, knees, ankles, feet. He has had pain and discomfort in almost every joint and every muscle group in his body.
In fact he shows me a complicated drawing of a stick man that he drew, where everywhere in the body that hurts is marked by xxx’s, dashes, lines. I look at this bizarre drawing, and it is a slightly frightening moment – because the drawing is bizarre and the figure looks like a voodoo doll.
He reports nervousness, insomnia, anxiety, anger issues, nightmares. He has a stuffy nose, nasal congestion, tremors. He lies on his couch almost everyday when he doesn’t have to work. He is 33 years old.
“All of this started after you broke your ankle?” I ask.
“Yeah, I guess so.” He says.
Having seen thousands of people, from White House Chief of Staff, to Victoria Secret models, homeless people to addicts, I am strangely pulled to believe this person. And having being doing this for over 15 years, it’s less about technical details but more about intuition and experimentation, drawing outside the box, thinking a solution that works rather than what is dictated. In conversations like this, I sit deeply back in my chair with the arms hanging about. I might look out the window to look at the bird or the flowers. There is something that tells me to believe him even just a little bit. No, he’s not totally making this up, I decide in my head. But no, he’s not telling me the full truth either.
CNN shows a special report on COSCO, the supermarket in America that sells everything in bulk. They show that Costco large cartons of ibuprofen containing 1000 pills. Who needs to take 1,000 ibuprofen pills for pain relief? Does anyone find that bizarre?
Why are we marketing supersize muffins, donuts, drinks, to fatten people in a multi-billion dollar industry. And then the fattened people develop diabetes and they come back to support the multi-billion dollar diabetes treatment industry? Almost every other person that you meet at the airport is overweight. Does anyone find that bizarre? People drive everywhere and we hire people to cook, clean, and shop for us. Then we go to the gym to have another adult to watch us to lift dumb bells and squat. Does anyone find that bizarre?
Someone once told me that whatever problem that a person has now – somewhere, sometime in human history someone else has had a similar problem.
All right. Let’s go to the Yellow Emperor’s Internal Cannon – the classic, landmark textbook written approximately 2000 years ago, written and used by Imperial Court Scholars and Physicians who were summoned to the Imperial Palaces treat the Yellow Emperor and his Imperial family, dating 200 CE.
We read about the 72 channels, the 300+ acpuncture points, and the integrated channels that run through the body, including the 12 Primary Channels, the 8 Extraordinary Vessels, and the 12 Divergent Channels. These have been described through the slow accretion of observation, recording and testing, over a largely unbroken period of over 20 centuries, surely one of the most remarkable recorded historical traditions in world medicine, known as Chinese Medicine.
Maybe it is hocus-pocus but maybe it’s under utilized. But in any event the textbook describes the conversations between the Yellow Emperor (Huang Ti) and his physician (Chi Po), hence it is a historical (actually legendary) account. The Emperor was portrayed as a true Renaissance man. He designed a cart based on the big dipper, designed a series of musical notes and instruments to play them on, but his great love was medicine, which is shown in the conversations he has with his physician, during which he asks about everything imaginable. One of the questions the Emperor asked was, “Why do we not live as long as 100 years old?”
And the answer that the Court Physician gave was fantastic.
So, I say to the young man, “So, what are we going to do?”