Wandering around aimlessly seems an easy thing to do, at least for me, even still.
A 21 year old college boy with no aspirations, literally not a thought toward the future, and no clue about which path to take, just enjoying life at Baylor University!
The epiphany struck as the SENIOR year was about to begin…“I’ve gotta make a living to support a family!” …not thinking of the distant future or looking for a life of purpose….. just being short sighted and trying to take the next step…what a moron, I was…
It was not until the end of the rope seemed near that I finally started talking to God, so I started praying often and intently, “What should i do with my life?” . . . . . .for at least a few days. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .followed by nothing but silence from the heavens, despite listening awkwardly to every smoldering scrub bush surviving the Texas heat.
So I decided to ask some humans, specifically a few trusted teachers.
“I have no idea what to do with my life!?” said I to the first…
He replied, “ Oh, I know EXACTLY what you are going to do!! You are going to medical school, and you are going to be a GREAT doctor.” …and the others softly echoed some version of his firm sentiment.
This is a direct quote that i will never forget, and I think i can still remember the look on his face when he said it,…calm, stern and sure.
He was sure!?
At the time, and for many years afterward, I was sure he said this a lot, maybe even to EVERY student that came his way…. Surely this professor of Anatomy and Physiology had lots of students looking for wise direction, introducing a lot of bias, because the students would very likely be very happy to go to medical school and become great doctors.
A little back story would be helpful to explain why his response was so surprising to me.
You see, he already knew that the only thing certain was that I wasn’t going to go to medical school to become a doctor, because of my experience as a patient.
The medical establishment had left a bad taste in my mouth. Literally…..and in my nose, and ears, and many other parts if that is possible.
Imagine an 11 year old boy’s routine dental cleaning visit resulting in a mouth full of prophylactically placed metal amalgam fillings, “because these deep crevices in his teeth are going to become cavities if we don’t fill them,” says the dentist to my mother. She trusted the wisdom of the caring doctor, who subsequently put in many mercury fillings without sedation or anesthesia, which resulted in a prolonged and unusually severe aversion to tiny surgical instruments and their noises and resulting smells.
Imagine the surprise when only a short time later, seemingly unrelated and unusual symptoms began to occur, including abdominal pain and diarrhea—the explosive, uncontrollable kind that makes you quickly wander to the nearest available spot to ‘go’—along with sudden, short-lived writhing and rhythmic movements in the extremities and neck and tongue. These rare movements progressed to frequent episodes, then hourly episodes, and sometimes several hourly episodes….eventually leading to an inability to run in a coordinated way, dashing the previously held high hope of the formerly real chance at playing college football.
Imagine the anger and embarrassment of all of this to a teenager trying to make his way, hiding the symptoms at all costs, but unable to hide the irritable bowel syndrome manifestations, particularly when wearing 1980’s style tightly rolled-up white jeans, which were only worn once if my memory serves me well, and it does, because those jeans were definitely put in a dumpster in the only alley in that small town…. “lesson learned.”
Imagine the joy and relief of the “normal” neurological exams, labs and scans of every type. Relief for everyone except the young man suffering with these weird movements, and the subsequent referral to a psychiatrist to explain the disconcerting symptoms, which could have been evident to anyone who would look carefully, but which were not believed to be “real,” because all the tests were normal, despite the fact that the symptoms described by the patient were exactly the same as the medical literature’s description of simple, partial, and very rarely secondarily generalized Jacksonian March seizures….the aimlessly wandering kind…look it up, here.
Let’s veer off this path for a bit and talk a little bit of medicine.
Could it be true that the dental procedure and mercury-amalgam fillings contributed to the IBS and childhood seizures?
I believe the answer is yes, and these can contribute to the neurological and gastrointestinal symptoms suffered by many others around us…see these:
- A Child with elemental mercury poisoning and unusual brain MRI findings
- Methodological issues and evidence of malfeasance in research purporting to show thimerosal in vaccines is safe
- Screening for functional gastrointestinal disorders in children with epilepsy
- Impaired aquaporins expression in the gastrointestinal tract of rat after mercury exposure
- Intestinal Microbiome and Metal Toxicity
- Current approaches of the management of mercury poisoning: need of the hour
Did this procedure work alone in causing my disease?
No, of course not!
Rarely does one “thing” act alone in a complex illness. The 2 causes of disease always work together, and they work together within 2 predispositions:
—Genetics—the code we’re born with and can’t change,
—Environment—which is every single thing we have experienced from the womb to today–everywhere we’ve been and everything we’ve seen, smelled, or consumed. Everything we’ve thought or dreamed or heard or remembered. Every outside influence for each single moment of our life.
All of us are a product of our own unique genetics and our own unique environment, and there are no two people on the planet that are exactly alike! Even identical twins, sharing the same “genetics” have different genetic expression and different environments—even if only because our environment is affected by our own perfectly individualized, subjective experience!
Looking back, it is all providence.
It must be… Because I love being a doctor and I didn’t know it until long after I had already become a doctor.
I am now so grateful for finding the scary, meandering path to ‘nowhere good’ was actually a journey with meaning and purpose, all working together to lead me to the precious moment of space and time we call “here and now.”
Meaning and purpose are wonderful things, which leads me back around to our prior path, which is simply to shout a long-belated “thank you,” and to share a little bit of the meaning that i find in my story for a few of you, dear readers.
Teachers—you are more important than you know. Knowing your students and wisely directing them will forever change their destiny and the destiny of their surrounding little worlds.
Students—Get to know your teachers. Let yourself be known. Find teachers that know you and then listen to what they have to say…it will change your life.
Patients—and we are ALL patients—never give up hope, for there are answers that await if you will only diligently search for them…
…and to Dr. Richard Couey… thank you. Thank you, a million times over….thank you!!
My aimless wandering led me to the path that crossed yours, and you took the time to stop and listen and to know me better than I knew myself.
I am so thankful that you spoke truth into my life and you made me believe it!
You were so sure!
Only time will tell if you were right.