Tuesday, January 5, 2010

20-20 Vision Staring 2010

As we start a new decade, let us see what “2020 vision” may have in store for us, according to a landmark issue in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

“As a result of rigorous scientific investigation, several therapeutic and preventive modalities currently deemed elements of complementary and alternative medicine will have proven effective. Therefore, by 2020, these interventions will have been incorporated into conventional medical education and practice, and the term ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ will be superseded by the concept of “Integrative Medicine…”

“[By 2020] most human diseases will be understood at the fundamental level of molecules; knowledge about genetic control of CELLULAR FUNCTIONS will underpin future strategies to PREVENT or TREAT diseases”.[1]

The only correction I would make is the term “Complementary and Alternative Medicine”. It is a pejorative word;[2] in my opinion, it has been coined by Big Pharma followers who view anything outside their narrow view of the world as an alternative. When all is said and done, any advancement in any field that is well researched, practical and affordable should be used as “medicine”, regardless of its source:

“Ultimately, there is only one medicine, those therapies that help patients... if it is good for medicine... it should be taught with respect and inquisitiveness and should be give an open-minded but rigorous approach”.[3]

[1] “2020 Vision: NIH Heads Foresee the Future”, Journal of the American Medical Association 1999;282:2287, 2288

[2] J. Family Practice, June 1999

[3] Institute of Medicine, 2004 report

On Sports and Movement

Hopefully you have already seen the movie “Invictus”. I cannot do justice to the many messages it had for all of us. Suffice it to say that the poem “invictus” sustained me in my youth. As I got older, I came to see it as a bit arrogant but a necessary part of development; after being beaten up by life, I feel more comfortable saying that the invisible forces that guide my heart are now the captain of my soul.

Other than that, the movie’s wonderful example of the power of sports to unite people and promote health at so many levels resonated loudly in my heart. I played soccer in college and I still spend a lot of time watching the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake, and the Yankees (I used to live in NYC). I also exercise daily.

Let me share an article I wrote that got published in a Utah newspaper while I was an Intern in Houston, Texas; I wrote it in the throes of youthful exhilaration, a few days before my Alma Matter’s Football team won the National Championship in 1984:

“My name is not important. I am an ordinary Cougar fan who finds himself far away from Provo in very unfavorable circumstances. Right now it is 3 AM, a few hours after BYU beat Michigan in the Holiday Bowl. I can’t sleep for two reasons: one, my mind is filled with excitement and gratitude over BYU’s football team. Two, my old body doesn’t know when to sleep because of my work schedule.

You see, I am an intern at Baylor in Houston, a very hard working medical program. I am now rotating through the busiest Emergency Room in the nation. Since it was impossible to get the day off to watch the game (I would have had to work 72 hours straight) I told my boss I had to have the day off “for church reasons”.

I have been able to watch other games via satellite at church. Sometimes trading with other interns was necessary, which required working back to back nights. Why such fanatism? Because BYU football has been one of the few things I’ve had to keep my sanity since I began Pre Medicine in 1975.

While in Texas I have gotten in many heated arguments with the locals who feel there is no football outside their state; I even called a local radio show. Some Texans know about BYUs quarterback genealogy and that BYU does well on the gridiron when playing their teams.

The point I now wish to make is simple:

As an MD, I work trying to heal people. I have become aware of the futility of it in most cases. However, I am convinced that some things have a considerable impact on people’s wellbeing. One of them is sports. Not only active participation to build a strong body and character; but, also watching “your team” play. Both are excellent ways to grow; they also serve as a momentary break from daily obligations.

I am reminded of a colleague’s sad indictment on his knowledge of the human condition; he considered sports as much a waste of time as children’s games. How sad coming from a physician.

You see, sports and entertainment in general are very powerful activities in keeping a society health, happy and out of trouble. People from all walks of life find much relief from sometimes overwhelming environments through recreation—some through sports, others through all other forms of entertainment.

BYU football is an example of this in my own life. Think of the millions of workers who toil daily in honest but often poorly compensated drudgery. To them, watching their favorite team play is their major, if not the only outlet from it all. Sports not only release bottled up pressures, but, in some cases keeps a few from misdirecting those forces against themselves or against society.

Finally, I would like to thank all the players and coaches for a wonderful Christmas present which will hopefully lead to the National Championship. To coach Edwards, whom I admire immensely because of his leadership and perspective of the game, I would like to say that working as a coach he does more, much more in preventing disease and providing relief from sometimes brutal reality, than I will ever hope to do in a lifetime of work as a physician.

To the BYU players I say that they should never underestimate all the good things they do in pursuing excellence in their athletic endeavors. I have the utmost respect for what you do. Thank you very much”.

As 2010 comes your way, I hope you commit to exercising more often. If your work demands do not allow you to do it, consider walking with friends at lunch, or a neighborhood course in Yoga or Tai Chi; after learning you can do it on your own.

For those who live in Salt Lake City, consider taking my daughter Danielle’s Yoga class, starting January 6th at my clinic in Draper (Shameless plug). She is certified to teach Yoga after trotting the world over (Nepal, Indian, Patagonia, etc). Call her @ 801- 694-2489.