What’s it like experiencing Functional Medicine for the first time? We spoke to Paul, a patient who has recently started working with a functional medicine practitioner to resolve some of his own health challenges.
What drew you to Functional Medicine in the first place?
Its hard to put my finger on one thing. I’d been struggling for a while with various things that on their own weren’t too bad but together were starting to feel wearing. Digestive problems, stress and insomnia problems, tiredness, some anxiety problems. A few friends of mine had had some good experiences with Functional Medicine helping solve some of their problems. But nothing had really kicked me into action and I’d probably have just carried on thinking that was all normal. Then my Dad had a really major health scare with a cardiovascular related stroke and dementia. It was quite an emotional time. And it made me concerned about my own health future. My Grandad and Uncle both died young from heart attacks as well. I have a six year old daughter and imagining it being her stood in intensive care in a few years time made me think I should do something.
So what was the first visit like?
Well actually the experience kind of started before the first visit. One of the things that really impressed me was how much they knew about me before we even started properly talking. They send out this functional medicine survey form. I was a bit kind of grumpy at first! It took ages! They ask about everything. Loads of stuff about my health now and in the past, medical history, family history stuff like that.
The functional medicine survey. A lot of practices use that. Did that seem useful then?
Like I say at first it felt time consuming. Then when I got there and there was a sense they’d already done so much homework on me it felt like the foundation of the relationship so how. It defined the whole experience in a way. I was so used to the kind of healthcare where they spend 10 minutes asking a few questions and send you away with a prescription. This is so personal by comparison. My practitioner is like a detective!! Trying to figure out how I’m wired and how we can make it all work better. And the survey was the start of that. It was really reassuring how much she already seemed to know about me. Actually it ended up seeming like a good use of time. Finding out all that information through talking would take much longer and I guess its no good knowing some of it later on, she needed to know some of it right at the start.
So it felt like a part of what makes functional medicine so personal?
Yes it did I think. A really in depth way of getting to know me and my past.
What else helped at the beginning?
Well the first consultation was great and it really felt like the beginning of them getting to know me. But what really blew me away was them showing me the results of the first test they had me do. It was a DNA test. Its revealed lots of things about me I didn’t know. But one of the most powerful things is confirming that I have a genetic profile that is probably like my dads/ I have a thing called APOE3/4 which means I could be at higher risk of the kind of CVD and dementia my dad now has. I suppose I knew I probably had that risk factor but seeing it there in my own genes is quite a powerful motivator in wanting to make some of the lifestyle changes that are coming out of the treatment. Alongside the functional medicine survey it really helps to feel that all the recommendations are for me and are designed to help my specific genes and circumstances.
To find out more about how functional medicine can help you as a patient, click here