The Missing Piece

When I say that I practice Family Medicine, what do you think of?

Most people say, “Diabetes, high blood pressure, runny noses, and families.”

Yep, all of that is true haha!

But I think of Family Medicine as “finding the missing piece”.

When you go to the hospital, what do they tell you when you leave?

“Make sure you follow up with your regular doc.”

That’s partly because your general practitioner manages your overall health and you should keep them informed.

But it’s also because when they can’t figure out what’s going on, they rely on the family medicine practitioner to figure it out.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a new patient establish care at my office for a hospital follow up for “syncope” (they passed out) and the hospital couldn’t figure out why.

All of their bloodwork (blood count, kidney function, liver function, pregnancy test, drug screen, STD screening, coagulation studies, etc), cardiac workup (chest x-ray, heart enzymes, ultrasound of their heart, stress test, etc), and neurology workup (electroencephalogram to check for seizures) all came back NORMAL.

They’re told “Everything seems to be OK but follow up with your regular doc”.

But because they’re in their early 20’s, they don’t have a regular doc. They don’t take medications. They’ve never had this happen before. But they’re worried about what’s going on in their otherwise healthy body.

So, they end up at my office.

I’ve walked into the exam room of each one of these patients and listened to their story. Every. Single. Word.

I review their hospital records.

Then, I do an exam head to toe.

Then, I tell them, “I hate to have to do this but we need more bloodwork.”

Some of them groan because they’re still bruised up and healing from their previous blood draws. Others have simply nodded.

I order a thyroid panel. This is typically the ONE lab that wasn’t ordered by the hospital.

And then BAM! I find the answer. These patients have a VERY overactive thyroid. Dangerously overactive.

I put them on medication, order blood work regularly, titrate their medications based on the lab results, and I follow up with them 3 months later.

They’re responses after 3 months are all the same.

“I feel great. I haven’t passed out since the hospital.”

The missing piece of the puzzle has been found. The picture of their health is now complete and they can be treated accordingly. They can be confident about their health and how to manage it.

I have found numerous missing pieces. As a matter of fact, when I’m presented with a problem, I ENJOY finding the missing piece.

And that’s Family Medicine: Putting the pieces together.

But I am also a Christian. And there’s one more piece to each patient’s puzzle: Jesus Christ.

When their health is in balance, I thank God for being able to help.

When their health is out of whack, I pray for them and pray for the ability to help.

When they’re grieving from the death of a loved one, I comfort them with prayer.

When a patient doesn’t know what to do, I tell them to pray about it.

I can put the pieces of their puzzle together and help them keep it together. But unless they glue it to a poster board or have some other type of solid foundation, their pieces, at any time of their lives, can come apart.

So, as their medical provider, I may help find the missing pieces and help fill the picture of the patient but the patients themselves need to have a firm foundation for those pieces.

And that foundation is none other than Jesus Christ. The son of God. The one who died, resurrected, overcame the world, conquered death, and is with us, for us, and among us.

Go to your doc appointments and get all the pieces of your health together.

Then, look up to the heavens for the One who will keep it all together for you.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalms 18:2 NIV

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