A good night sleep, or a ten minute bawl, or a pint of chocolate ice cream, or all three together, is good medicine.
If there is anything I’ve learned in over 40 years of practicing medicine, it’s that I still must “practice” my art every day. As much as we physicians emphasize the science of what we do, utilizing “evidence based” decisions, there are still days when a fair amount of educated guessing and a gut feeling is based on past experience, along with my best hunch. Many patients don’t arrive with classic cook book symptoms that fit the standardized diagnostic and treatment algorithms so the nuances of their stories require interpretation, discernment and flexibility. I appreciate a surprise once in awhile that makes me look at a patient in a new or unexpected way and teaches me something I didn’t know before. It keeps me coming back for more, to figure out the mystery and dig a little deeper.
I’ve also learned that not all medicine comes in pills or injections. This isn’t really news to anyone, but our modern society is determined to seek better living through chemistry, the more expensive and newer the better, whether prescribed or not. Chemicals have their place, but they also can cause havoc. It is startling to see medication lists topping a dozen different daily pills. Some are life-saving. Many are just plain unnecessary.
How many people sleep without the aid of pill or weed or alcohol? Fewer and fewer. Poor sleep is one of the sad consequences of our modern age of too much artificial light, too much entertainment and screen time keeping us up late, and not enough physical work to exhaust our bodies enough to match our frazzled and fatigued brains.
How many of us allow ourselves a good cry when we feel it welling up? It could be a sentimental moment–a song that brings back bittersweet memories, a commercial that touches just the right chord of feeling and connection. It may be a moment of frustration and anger when nothing seems to go right. It could be the pain of physical illness or injury or the stress of emotional turmoil. Or just maybe there is weeping when everything is absolutely perfect and there cannot be another moment just like it, so it is tough to let it go unchristened by tears of joy.
And without a doubt, the healing qualities of chocolate are unquestioned by this doctor, however it may be consumed. It can fix most everything that ails a person, at least for an hour or two.
No, it doesn’t take an M.D. degree to know the best medicine.
Just remember: sleep, weep, reap (chocolate!)