My story, and an Introduction to the BlogDec 17, 2021
My story, and an Introduction to the Blog
I am a mid career Otolaryngologist and allergist, with an interest in all topics wellness. This has come about gradually over my 29 year career in medicine, but the story actually started long before that.
Why another blog? There are so many. There are so many topics I need to share with my patients and so little time in a clinic visit. Rather than make more handouts that I suspect end up in the trash, I have decided to go ahead and post my recommendations for specific topics such as how to design a diet for food allergic patients, how to get the most out of your allergy treatment, what other things can be done to optimize sleep, supplements, gluten free, and more. I will be adding new posts as I get free time to compose them.
A Little History
When I was a child I was frequently sick, had tonsils out and tubes in, continued having the occasional strep throat and ear aches. But really, anything that stressed me out or wore me out would result in my getting sick. Even as a pre-teen I was really interested in medicine, specifically the pioneers of heart and brain surgery. My senior year I got REALLY sick with infectious Mononucleosis (for months) and even ended up dropping several classes. So I applied to Texas A&M intending to get an engineering degree as a less demanding career than medicine.
At A&M I did OK, for a while. Then got sick again end of Freshman year, had sinus surgery, dropped a whole semester of classes, and started over in the summer school. As classes got more difficult, I did less well, just didn’t have what it took energy-wise to keep up. I ended up dropping engineering and getting a biochemistry degree, and a job as a research lab tech. But surgery was still what I really wanted to do. So I finally took the MCAT, applied to medical school, and got in. I described it to myself as swirling down a funnel with surgery as the only thing that I really wanted to do.
And – medical school was really hard. The sheer volume of information and stamina required to get through it was something that, looking back I have no idea how I made it. I was fascinated by ENT. I did well enough that I got accepted to an Otolaryngology residency. I was still chronically sick, and had another sinus surgery. Every vacation week when the adrenaline would drain away I would spend the whole time sick. I made it through that residency on willpower alone; and once again, I felt my performance was hampered by fatigue and “laziness”. My final year there I was diagnosed again with Mononucleosis. Rather than dig in and start researching how a person could be diagnosed with that twice (my medical training had said it wasn’t possible) and what could be done, I applied for jobs in my hometown in Texas and moved back home, after yet another sinus surgery.
As I settled in to life in private practice, I started noticing several things. First, like myself, many of my patients were not cured by their sinus surgeries. I sent them to the general allergists, who sent them back with prescriptions for antihistamines, and sometimes allergy shots, but many were not helped. Second, when I totally gave up caffeine, not only did I note a reduction in anxiety, but I found I wasn’t getting sick as often. What about caffeine was hampering my immune system? At the time there wasn’t much scientific research on the enormous importance of enough quality sleep, and sleep research was a pretty new field. I took continuing education in sleep medicine, but the courses barely mentioned caffeine, focusing mainly on obstructive sleep apnea and mechanical or surgical ways to “cure” it. So I put the caffeine observation into my back pocket and went on, though I did start trying to get my chronically sick patients to give it up, with sometimes great results.
I also took many hours of training in Otolaryngic Allergy, which had been practiced in my residency but all but ignored by the more glamorous surgeons who treated cancer, facial deformities, sinus polyps, etc. The more I learned about allergy the more I wanted to know; and I started testing and giving allergy shots, then allergy sublingual drops in my office. I began delving into food allergy in a way that is no longer taught by the mainstream allergy societies, learning also about non-IgE mediated food sensitivities and the myriad symptoms they can cause. (Don’t worry, more blog posts are in the works about these.) I realized eventually that I had an egg sensitivity – I would feel sick and sleep a whole day away after eating an egg breakfast.
Seeking and Finding
Then one day I wandered into a lecture about Women’s Hormone Management, and was blown away – the lecturer was talking about ME – sleepy but unable to sleep, no energy, cold all the time (to the point of aching hands), low blood pressure, low body temperature, night sweats, dry skin, thin hair, depressed. I had been taught in med school that all hypothyroid patients are overweight and had goiters: he said not necessarily, that lab tests as currently ordered miss a lot of “subclinical” hypothyroidism. I was so blown away by this information that I bought his book. Though short on scientific studies he referred back to the way thyroid problems were treated before the TSH test and Synthroid were developed. My PCP at the time ordered a few tests which were normal, but at my insistence let me try taking Armour Thyroid. A MIRACLE! Many of those symptoms vanished within a week of starting that pill. That was 15 years ago, and though I have continued struggling with this issue I seek research data and am learning more and more about how to “balance” thyroid hormones for patients. The relationship between endocrine function and immune function is a complex one, and incorporating this treatment has resulted in some astounding successes. In fact many of my “allergy” patients find they no longer have sinus and allergy symptoms once their hormones are addressed.
Future blog posts are going to focus on topics I feel are key to health, particularly for allergy patients but really for everyone, adult or child, currently healthy or not, wanting to lose weight, sleep better, get well, or just live a higher quality life. This blog is planned mainly to be a resource for my patients, who have way more questions than I have time to answer in person, and will be addressed to a lay audience. If you are reading this and have a more scientific interest in some topic here I will be glad to discuss my sources.
Interested? You can email me at [email protected].
If you live near Dallas or Arlington TX, I can be found at CentralParkENT.net
Thanks for reading.