By Joalie Davie, M.D., Harvard University Class of 1974
WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE
In the forty years since we graduated from Harvard, I suspect all of us have undergone many changes—as have our fields and professions. Scientific and technological advances have changed our lives. But the traditional practice of medicine, as I first learned it at Harvard and The University of Massachusetts Medical School, has remained almost constant. We have new tools, but the basic philosophy and treatment regimens are the same as they have been for decades.
I and my fellow students were taught to treat diseases and their symptoms at the physical level. We excelled at diagnosis and followed prescribed treatments aimed at eliminating the physical manifestations of the problems with drugs, surgery or other invasive procedures.
But as the water flowed under the bridge, I failed to recognize that in many cases, traditional medicine had missed the boat. As an emergency physician, I treated patients, often saving their lives, only to see them return with progression of their disease a few months or years later. Yes, they received expert medical treatment for their diagnoses, but the root of their problems remained. I was treating, not healing. So were almost all practitioners of traditional Western medicine.
It took a personal health crisis for me and many years of struggle to face a watershed moment. I developed a medical condition that worsened despite, and partly because of, expert medical and surgical care at top Boston Hospitals. The surgeries I underwent resulted in escalation of my condition. Despite my strong faith in the medical system, I felt I had been abandoned and betrayed.
But given my innate drive to find a solution, I pursued every possible chance to learn something that would open a new door to healing.
It was only after experimenting with nutrition (using orthomolecular medicine) and acupuncture that there was a radical improvement in my condition. This spiked my curiosity and I set out to learn as much as I could about alternative medicine, I felt like Dorothy with her red shoes going through that door. I attended conferences, took trainings in hypnosis, focusing, Qi Gong, and energy psychology modalities, and read dozens of textbooks. Most of these alternative methods—from ancient chinese medicine to “new age” medicine– had only what is considered anecdotal information on which to rely. However, the witnessing of success with some of these modalities created at first an incredulous believer of me.
And yet, despite the repeated witnessing of medical successes and “miraculous” cures for myself and others, it took me ten years to fully accept and embrace the practice of mind body medicine.
You see, I had to change my identity since, just like my colleagues and teachers, I would have called these modalities “quackery” several years before.
So, about ten years ago, I started incorporating these modalities in my new practice as a medical consultant. Five years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and began a private practice called Health from Within. So even though there are some but not enough rigorous scientific studies yet to establish the validity of these techniques, I and many others witness in our practices what conventional medicine would label “miraculous cures” for conditions considered chronic, or incurable including multiple sclerosis, heart disease, hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, depression, and many other problems.
In my practice, I helped people avoid surgeries, walk out of my office feeling lighter, pain free, and happy. Over the phone, I’ve helped people resolve severe vertigo, nausea from chemotherapy, and feel better than they felt in years. Just last week, a new client who had been suffering from a variety of symptoms for more than a decade called me when her condition worsened. She had flu-like symptoms, plus lethargy, nausea, vomiting, weight-loss, etc. After a single session, she felt better than she had in years—and she called to tell me that she had gone out to dinner that night and really enjoyed herself for the first time in months. Of course, my methods are not for everyone and sometimes it takes months of work with some clients. Still, I remain convinced that addressing the root causes of illnesses and reversing the internal processes that led to the problem from the multidimentional whole system is a preferable approach to treating disease.
Does this means that I’ve abandoned the tenets of conventional methods and all that I learned in decades of schooling and professional practice? Of course not. In fact, my basic understanding of science—physiology, biochemistry, etc.—helps me in my application of alternative modalities. I believe that some of the current alternative medicine modalities will become the standard of care of the future and enhance the effectiveness of conventional medical techniques.
In closing, I would like to encourage each of you to examine the scientific methods you use in your professional life and to consider all approaches –including some that may be contrary to conventional thinking. And my office is always open as I welcome inquiries and collaboration on wholistic approaches to health and wellness to produce documentation of alternative techniques, and to you as clients wishing to experience the healing effects of alternative medicine first-hand.
Finally, I would be remiss not to mention another “miracle” in my post-Harvard life—my daughter, Michelle Chamuel. She chose a very different life path than my own—that of an artist musician. Recently, she was the first runner-up on the television show, The Voice. Just as I believed that successful health care depended on the scientific practice of modern medicine, I believed that success in music and the arts depended largely on talent. I’ve found neither to be entirely true. Success in the arts depends on much more than raw talent; even more so than in medicine, it takes dedication, a mind open to new things and an incredible amount of long, hard work. The result in both cases meets my definition of success: a continual quest for the best-possible ways to achieve the best-possible results—whether good health or an enthusiastic audience. I will end with a quote from my daughter: “I hope you’re having a great week and if you’re not, find out what would make it a great week and do that”. Blessings.