What is it about labeling that is so satisfying? I bought a label maker when my children were small. It was so satisfying placing those neat little labels on the clothing and food containers for preschool. The next thing I knew, I was scrounging around the house for more items in need of labeling. We like to create order, we like to compartmentalize.
In medicine, this inclination is prioritized by the doctor and the patient. What is the diagnosis? What do I have? Unfortunately, in some cases that label takes over. I am very unlikely to take that bin I have been storing crayons in and turnaround and store my baby carrots. Once we assign a label to something or someone, well, our brain likes to make sure it sticks. We do the same for our “diseases”. I often see patients where their “disease” takes over all aspects of their life. Sometimes I can suggest the right food plan, the right supplements, or medications, yet the disease persists, the label sticks. Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying the problem is not a physical one. I just feel that sometimes our mind seeks to perpetuate, support and is attached to the physical problems that bother us. Sometimes to free ourselves from that diagnosis or label we need to find the courage and permission to explore those attachments that keep us stuck. The goal of any doctor is to find health for his / her patients, and sometimes this is where we find it.
I had a young patient several years ago who presented with intermittent abdominal pain. He was missing quite a bit of school and the source of the problem was unclear. I took a careful history, performed an exam and ordered some testing. It turned out that he was constipated triggered by a variety of causes, nutritional, and social. We worked on nutrition, the social issues, tried supplements, even medication. I felt like we addressed all of the triggers but yet the problem persisted. I ended up having to refer my patient to a gastroenterologist. The specialist agreed with what had been done and said to him “There is nothing blocking or preventing the poop from coming out”. And that was it, he had no problems with constipation after that. It certainly is not always this literal, dramatic or easy! I have tried to remember that lesson I learned from this patient ever since. The mind-body-spirit connection is powerful and often overlooked in medicine.
I am so happy to be able to offer my patients the tools to make these connections for health at Groton Wellness and Sacred Tree. I view Groton Wellness as a place where patients can remove the “dis” in the word “disease”, to get to the root of the word, and find “ease” in healing. Sacred Tree at Groton Wellness is a special space that provides community, connection, love, and safety to remove those sticky labels.