A metaphor about the patient experience, what to expect, and patience.


I frequently ponder what it’s like to be on “the other side,” or “your side” as a patient. I try hard to make sure that my patients understand what we’re currently doing as well as what lies ahead- different phases of healing and things we need to work on as we peel back the onion layers to their health. I give this picture to all of my SIBO patients, but I think most of us could benefit from being reminded of this-

Naturopathic medicine and functional medicine

And yet, even with that in mind it’s still easy to get frustrated in the here and now. Human beings like answers, clarity, and instant gratification but the reality is that we rarely get all of those things in life. I’m sure most of us have wondered “why am I not better/cured yet?” at different points in our healing journeys. So what can you do when you’re tempted to throw in the towel?

Remember to finish your bridges.

Imagine you’re on an island (current health situation) and where you want to be (healthy) is on a different island. In an effort to get to the healthy island you start making a bridge (ex: start the Paleo diet), but you abandon construction (“fall off the wagon”) before you ever reach the island (feel better). You eventually start working on another bridge, and another, and another (hey, you want to feel better). Before you know it you’ve got a bunch of unfinished bridges (supplement graveyards, untouched cookbooks), none of which are capable of getting you to the other island! BAH.

So what can you do to break the cycle?

Focus on ONE bridge until it’s completed.

Of course there are a couple of * next to that statement:

  • Sometimes you start a bridge that’s going in the opposite direction of the island you want to be on. You obviously don’t want to stick with that for too long, right? Here’s how you differentiate a “good” bridge from a dud:

    • If you’re working with someone (a nutritionist, doctor, or healer) do a gut-check and ask yourself if they’re “the one.” Get out of your own head (being impatient, worrying about money) and imagine “If I follow their lead and give this 100% do I believe that they can help me?” If you say “yes”, then stick with it. If you say “no,” consider finding someone else to help you.

    • Have you made ANYprogress? It’s easy to get frustrated by incomplete bridges, but don’t forget how far you’ve come. I’ve had to remind patients that 80% better is amazing and should be celebrated! If you’ve made any progress keep going, it’s probably a good bridge. The pace at which you progress tells you more about your own patience than it does about the quality of the bridge.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others- it will only make you doubt yourself more. Some people only need to build a 5 foot bridge, while others need to span the Atlantic ocean. Unfortunately, it’s not always clear how far you have to go until you’re half way out into the ocean.

Functional Medicine is a journey

Don’t let doubt get in your way. You deserve to feel better and get to that other island!

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