The last week of patient consults have been heavy, emotional and draining, not in a bad way but in a way that has made me push back, slow down and really reflect. In our practice, diagnosing a possible root cause is or prime importance. We have medical doctors to treat and medicate the symptoms but in integrative medicine we work closely with the patient to diagnose the root cause and address it so that the doctor over time can reduce or stop the medications and the patient has a new lifestyle to follow that may prevent the re-occurrence of the ailment again and even if they do have a re-occurrence, they know what they must do to get better .
Usually in 95% or more of the patients, we are able to find correlating root causes from poor diet, sedentary lifestyles, sleep deprivation, emotional stress to faulty gene expression, over or self-medication, fad /starvation diets to over-training, wrong primary diagnosis/medication, drugs, binge drinking, etc.
The last week hit me and my team with cases that had none of these. Serious cases, where the patient led a healthy, happy life, clean nutrition, no prior conditions and clean family history. The kind of people you would never expect to get struck down with severe illness. Getting sick is normal for even super fit and healthy people. Everyone can fall sick and the difference is how fast you recover without the dependence on heavy drugs and treatments because you always maintained a healthy life. So, everyone can and will and may get sick at some point, but when the illness dealt is severe, life threatening and life changing, it makes you wonder – what and why?
Medical science likes to say that – “We don’t know. There is no evidence-based research” and writes it off as a one-off case. They are right. If there is no reason, evidence or research, then one can do nothing, but accept it and move on.
I was born a Catholic and went to church with my parents every Sunday. As I grew up and moved out of home, I wasn’t regular with church. That doesn’t mean I didn’t believe in God, I always continued to pray, was aware that there is some powerful force above me that guides me, protects me, gets me out of problems that I get myself into, heals me when I’m sick, is beyond medicine and guides me through life.
In my line of work and travel over the next few years, I got the experience to be exposed to the learnings of Hinduism, Islam, Judaism because I had patients of these beliefs. As I would spend time with them, especially my dying patients and someday when I have the time, I would put all these conversations in a book for all of you to read, but now getting back to the point, our talks were spiritual in nature and we would talk about how we have so much advancement in the world, technology, comfort, artificial intelligence, doctors, nutritionists, etc, but yet beyond all of that is a powerful mystery that exists. A force or power that is beyond any religion, spiritual leader, scientist, doctor, healer, techie etc. Religion talks about mysteries in life. Some people use or dedicate a life time trying to understand these mysteries and forces, but yet it remains a mystery. Some carelessly slam the word ‘karma ‘and people continue living a life of suffering and thinking that they are suffering because of ‘karma ‘. Karma is real, yet highly misunderstood and misused as a word. And then you have extremes in society and religious fanatics fighting in the name of religion or atheism, or fighting in the name of vegan or non-vegetarian or whatever other extremes have been made to keep humans in a box. As the world progresses, we see sick people, suffering, unhappiness, hatred, loneliness, etc equally amongst all faiths, religions and across all kinds of diets too.
Making me wonder more and more about powers and mysteries that are way beyond human understanding and are we gravitating too far away from these natural states in pursuit of things, diets and treatments that may not matter or may matter but cannot expected to be the ultimate cure?
Are we missing on the living with intention, faith and belief? No matter if your faith or belief is in a god, tree, animal or something as simple as trusting the process of life. Trusting the fact that no matter what, we will be guided and looked after even through our sickness or end of life? Can that faith and belief lift off the burden that we try to carry every day and live more meaningfully and happily? Is the absence or reduced amount of happiness in life really the main cause of disharmony in our cells and hence discomfort and eventually disease ?
Are we trying to live a life of control? The more we control, the more expectations we have and the more expectations we have, the more chances of disappointment and we stay stuck in a viscous cycle of despair and unhappiness that even material things and wealth cannot fix.
We have reached a point in the world today where we think we are entitled to and must know everything. What happened, why it happened, etc. Yes, it’s nice to know this because most of us fear uncertainty, but what if life is working its miracle for you through uncertainty, disease, loss, loss of love, death of someone close etc. If we look through the current binoculars of our perception, what we see is injustice, anger, hatred, helplessness etc, which isn’t wrong and we are taught to numb or overcome it, get onto psychiatric treatments and medications, drink more, drug up more, etc. What if our belief in life’s mysteries, uncertainty and non-clarity can actually and hopefully be life working for you? What if we are open to that, because anyway there is no other option. Should we try trusting the process and mysteries of life for our own good, health, peace, joy and meaning?
The more and more I delve deeper into disease, death and our patients, the more I focus and get reassured of the power of faith, belief, prayer, happiness, laughter, gratitude and nature.
As a health coach and nutritionist, it’s easy for me to push nutrition and say it’s the most important thing, food is medicine and all of that, but not today. Today I believe everything is needed, medicines, chemotherapy, radiation, nutrition, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, functional medicine, healers, energy healing, exercise, sleep, meditation etc. All of it rightly fit for the right symptoms and root causes, but I do believe and will continue to know and encourage people that there is something beyond all of this, and just because science can’t see it or study it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I would encourage people to reflect on this and through your mediation, silence practices or through your prayer and spiritual path, invest in these mysteries of life and forces, with faith and belief and trust the process of life.
My name is Luke Coutinho. I am neither a God nor a Guru. I am not a healer or a doctor or a cult leader. I am Luke Coutinho and I practice in the field of Integrative Lifestyle Medicine and Life Coaching. When one hears the word “medicine”, one immediately thinks of the pharmaceutical world, allopathy, chemotherapy, radiation, antibiotics and other drugs used by conventional doctors and medicine. I am not a practitioner of Alternative Medicine either.