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SOARAchieving Your Best Possible Health Through Awareness
By Roger L. White
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Roger L. White MD.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneSOAR with Smart Medical Care
I Knew It in My Heart
When you are ill you need up-to-date, competent medical care. That is a given. It is your responsibility to find the best medical care available for your needs. However, in our technologically oriented world the power of trusting intuition is often overlooked. This is a crucial part of true smart medical care.
Intuition comes from your spiritual heart (or consciousness). It interacts with reassurance, trust, and being patient. Intuition causes you to act subconsciously at times when your brain is lacking objective data. The brain may even be paralyzed to initiate action because it lacks objective data. Intuition is very important for health and survival.
Everyone has intuition, and it is not to be belittled. It is a very important part of feeling aware and connected. It tells you when change is needed to restore balance to your spiritual heart. Intuition can act as a stimulus to change and point you in the right direction for change. Some people are very intuitive and listen carefully to their intuition for direction. Other people suppress their intuition and trust only objective data to make decisions. Objectivity is rational, but it can also be limiting. Your goal should be to respect and cultivate your intuition by taking time to experience feelings and reflect and analyze them before just reacting. Intuition is a tremendous asset in life. It is particularly useful when objective data is lacking.
Acting on intuition is very important. You need to communicate your intuitive feelings to doctors when you have physical checkups. You live with your body twenty-four hours a day. The doctor is only seeing you for a few minutes. If you are in tune with your spiritual heart you can perceive when something is wrong. Communicating this to a doctor can help him or her to order the right tests, give the right therapies, and obtain appropriate consultations for you. Doctors also need to trust their intuition in treating you. This is the art of medical care and is a very valuable medicine. Respect for mutual intuitions builds trust.
The Power of Intuition
The following patient histories will illustrate how intuition played a crucial role in diagnosis and treatment.
NB was a forty-five-year-old man who had nausea and vomiting and feelings of headache and malaise. His internist had done several tests on his abdomen (blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, endoscopy, and colonoscopy). All of the tests came back normal. Since no abnormalities could be found on the tests his doctor concluded that the symptoms stemmed from anxiety and prescribed a tranquilizer. NB's intuition told him that he was not anxious and that something was physically wrong. NB also did not fully trust his doctor, as he seemed to lack empathy and was hurried. He felt that the doctor was just not listening to him.
NB was determined to follow his intuition and made an appointment for a screening body CT (computer tomography) scan at the diagnostic screening center where I was the medical director. The body CT scan is a high-tech x-ray examination of the whole body that looks into all of the internal organs to see if they are normal or have underlying problems. This technology was developed in the past decade and is generally a self-ordered test done outside of the hospital. It is usually not covered by traditional health-care insurance because it is considered elective. His physician did not encourage it because he thought it was an unnecessary expense for the patient.
After he had his body scan I reviewed the results with him. To our surprise, in his brain there was an aneurysm (an enlarged blood vessel that looked like a grape and was about to burst, which can cause sudden death.) The aneurysm was causing his headache and pressure, which in turn caused nausea. His symptoms had been secondary to his brain problem. A cerebral aneurysm may have no symptoms or often presents with intense headaches and associated neurological problems.
The patient did not have any of the above typical symptoms for cerebral aneurysm. It made the diagnosis of the problem difficult. But patients rarely present like textbook examples. In my experience patients are all individuals and rarely present in typical ways. Listening to the patient's intuition is very important. When doctors get normal results on tests they frequently just stop searching for the cause of patients' problems. Normal test results can be reassuring, but undetected problems may still persist. Often, if symptoms persist in spite of normal testing, doctors are quick to attribute symptoms to anxiety or depression. They stop taking care of the patient since in their eyes the patients are physically normal. The doctor overrelies on the normal result and stops looking for the cause of illness. In doing so he or she suppresses his or her own intuition.
Anxiety and depression can definitely cause psychosomatic illness. The term psychosomatic originated about sixty years ago. It does not mean that you are crazy or depressed. Psychosomatic means physical illness that is caused by psychological stresses. Examples of psychosomatic illness include high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and joint pains. These are definite physical illnesses. However, our understanding of psychosomatic illness is still primitive. Medical tests are limited in their ability to detect certain illnesses, and inappropriate tests may miss the target of complaints. This is when the doctor needs to work with both his and the patient's intuition to look into unexpected causes for illness. The patient needs to balance the reassurance of test results with the need to pursue all options so as not to become a hypochondriac. This can be a fine line and is where trust of the physician is important; and physicians must earn that trust.
I reviewed the aneurysm finding with above patient, NB. He was in part relieved to find something to explain his symptoms and yet concerned about needed action to correct it. I reviewed the results with his doctor, who also was surprised but ultimately wanted to do everything in his power to help the patient. When the internist had this new information, he too was grateful because now he knew how to treat the patient appropriately. Trust between the patient and the doctor was restored. Neurosurgical consultation was obtained, and the patient eventually had successful surgical correction of the aneurysm. Symptoms resolved, and NB is alive today because of his intuition.
Doctors need to listen to the patient's intuition to navigate these atypical presentations of illnesses. Although this patient had a very serious medical problem, NB was actually relieved that something was found, as he knew that something was out of balance. This was his self-intuition. NB was in tune with his spiritual heart, and he listened to it-he knew when it was out of balance. He trusted his intuition and acted on it.
The next patient also referred herself for a CT body scan because she was having severe chest pains and intuitively knew that something was wrong.
TB was a thirty-five-year-old woman. She was having severe chest pains and saw a cardiologist and had tests on her heart that were all normal. She was told by her doctor that she was anxious and was given an anti-anxiety medication, but her chest pains persisted. Because of her own intuition she decided to investigate her situation further and came to our center for a full body scan checkup.
The body scan demonstrated a tumor in her pancreas that was causing marked acid in her stomach. This marked acid in her stomach caused her to have chest pains. The tumor was still small and contained within the pancreas and could be removed with surgery. The surgery was successful, and the pancreas resumed normal function and the chest pains disappeared.
Here again the patient intuited that there was something more than anxiety, but once the doctor had made up his mind that she was okay he stopped looking for other potential problems. Within his area of expertise he had competently excluded the presence of heart disease; however, he stopped seeking other problems because it was out of his specialty as a cardiologist.
Doctors often make this mistake in managing patients. They do what they know best in their area of specialization but do not go beyond their boundaries and treat the whole patient. The human body is very complex and integrated, and standard tests may be unreliable or lack focus. Doctors need to have respect for the patient's intuition, and if they cannot find the problem they need to refer them to someone else who can extend their expertise. Second-opinion consultations can give new focus to help care for the total patient.
Anxiety and depression are also real problems but so often become a wastebasket diagnosis when the physician's tests are normal. The problem is that once the doctors find their tests to be normal they often stop investigating and just assume that the symptoms are related to depression or anxiety. The real problem is that the doctor stops listening and stops effective heart-to-heart communication. This is when your intuition is important to override the doctor's lack of intuition.
Trust your own intuition and find a doctor who also trusts both your and their intuition. Work together as partners. This will lead to heart-to-heart communication and improve outcomes.
I still had lot of respect for scientific knowledge and the benefits of modern medical technology, but as I began to trust my own intuition, (which was reignited in me in India in 1991); I became a more effective doctor rather than just an efficient doctor.
Sometimes I would do treatments that were entirely counter to the facts because I would listen to the intuition in my spiritual heart more than my brain. The following is a story of how this applied to a patient.
DD was thirty-six years old when I met him. He was a small man of East-Indian descent. He had a sudden severe heart attack while driving his taxicab. (Fortunately he did not have a passenger at the time.) He drove his taxi to the emergency room in pain and nearly collapsed in the emergency room from weakness. His heart attack was severe and needed immediate therapy in order to save his life. I decided to treat him with a new emergency clot-dissolving drug to reverse heart attacks.
I quickly administered with confidence a clot-dissolving drug just like I had done for many similar patients. I had had very good results reversing heart attacks with this drug. The clot-dissolving drug was called TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) and involved a research project that I was working on to establish statistics for the best treatment of heart attacks.
This was a standard evidence-based medical study to see how new drugs work and if they would be beneficial.
I was cautiously optimistic that I would see similar good results in this patient. However, when I gave the new drug to DD he got markedly worse right in front of me. He had increased chest pains and increased difficulty breathing, his blood pressure became very low, and his heart rhythm deteriorated.
DD was still conscious and sitting up on the examination table. He had respiratory distress, cold sweaty skin, pallor, and continued chest pain. I could see from experience that he was about to die! There was nothing more I could do with medication. The nurses were preparing the resuscitation cart because he looked like he was going to become comatose soon.
At that moment I paused for a second and just listened to my own spiritual heart. I accessed my own intuition and trusted it. I held his hand and told him that I was going to do the best that I could to save his life, although in my brain I had run out of options.
He was sitting up looking fearfully at me but trusted my judgment to save his life. I was not sure what to do but listened to my heart. The direction from my heart told me to hit him hard on his back while he was sitting there. I needed to do something, since his condition was quickly deteriorating. Hitting someone on the back was not the typical form of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) that I was taught. Traditionally, when there is no pulse you pump down on the front of the chest while the patient is prone to try to generate a pulse. I decided to take advantage of the fact that he was still conscious and able to sit up. I was also concerned that the recently delivered clot-dissolving medication would complicate traditional CPR by increasing his risk of bleeding with chest compressions.
I continued to slap him hard on his back in a rhythmic fashion. I told him to take deep breaths and rhythmically cough to try to maintain his blood pressure. (Sometimes repeated coughing can temporally maintain the blood pressure even if the heart rhythm stops entirely.) I kept hitting him on his back and asking him to cough whenever I hit him. I did this for about five minutes. This kept him from passing out.
On the ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor over his head he only had a rare occasional heartbeat and no detectable blood pressure, yet he remained conscious, which was most unusual. In most situations the patient would be unconscious or dead at this point. Although he was anxious and feared death he was reassured that I was helping him in any way that I could, even though my methods were nontraditional.
The nurses thought that I had gone crazy with my slapping him on his back for five minutes. They continued to prepare for impending cardiac arrest and traditional resuscitation efforts. I said to hold off with resuscitation since the patient was still conscious even though he had no life-sustaining heartbeat at the time. The whole time I held one of his hands, intuitively maintaining heart-to-heart communication.
Then when all seemed hopeless I looked up at the ECG monitor. There was a heartbeat followed by another heartbeat. The rhythm was picking up, and I could begin to feel a pulse. His color was changing from gray to pink. He had a blood pressure reading, albeit still a bit low. His chest pain was going away, and his anxiety was dissipating.
His follow-up electrocardiogram began to show reversal of the heart attack. My hand and his back were sore from all the pounding that I had done. I was exhausted from the physical ordeal. DD improved markedly in the next half hour and survived. He never needed the resuscitation cart.
DD remained in the hospital. He required further coronary bypass surgery to treat multiple blocked heart arteries. He went through cardiac rehabilitation, which further restored his heart muscle. His recovery was prolonged, but he returned to a normal life. He never forgot the slap of my hand on his back and the coughing to keep his heart going. When he would come to the outpatient clinic he would greet me and joke by saying in his East-Indian accent, "Please, doctor, no more slapping or coughing. I am very very well today"
DD is still alive now twelve years later. He has become a good friend. The clot-dissolving medicine probably worked, but I was never really sure what happened. I had incomplete facts. In real medical treatment there is always incomplete information. However, I am convinced that he would not have survived if I had not started beating on his back and asking him to cough to replace his heart rhythm. I used both my medical knowledge and my intuition to give DD the best possible medical care. The important thing, however, was connecting heart-to-heart.
We had developed a partnership to work together during this crisis. Trust and faith in a higher spirit facilitated this connection. I am a Christian and DD was a Muslim. However, true heart-to-heart connections are universal and do not recognize denominations. Heart-to-heart communication combined with trust is the common denominator that promotes understanding and peace.
The Power of Reassurance
Doctors tend to concentrate on illness rather than wellness. This is how they are trained, and this is how they are reimbursed. They fail to tell the patient that they are really doing well. Has your doctor ever said, "You are really soaring"? Appropriate reassurance is one of the best medicines that I have given during my career and one that I enjoy giving.
Excerpted from SOAR by Roger L. White Copyright © 2010 by Roger L. White MD.. Excerpted by permission.
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