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No Such Word

There are many weeks when our staff seems to be able to care for our patients in a healthy, efficient way. The wait time is limited, the office visits themselves are quite routine, and there is a sense of urgency to attend to each and every patient who walks in our door. But, then there are some weeks when we are absolutely overwhelmed with the demands of the practice. It's difficult being a solo practitioner sometimes, especially since I try my hardest to make sure everyone gets the care they need at the time they need it. On the other hand, I am sure patients can be frustrated with what appears to be an inefficient office or lack of attention to some small, innocuous request. We frequently hear unsolicited advice about how to make things better from well-meaning patients, although most times they have no idea that we have tried to implement their ideas in our remote past and the results were unfavorable. It's a tough road no matter how you walk it.

The most enjoyable aspects of my patient population is that I have the best patients a physician could ask for. I marvel at the kindness and genuine sincerity with which people treat my staff and me. I see everyone who has a chart in the file room as part of the Stone Family. Each and every individual is distinctive and has special gifts and talents. Their life stories are fascinating, sometimes sad, sometimes sublime. Our patient community makes me a better person for listening, thinking only about them, and then applying unique physiological facts and clinical data (that other physicians either do not know or do not care about) to find solutions to clinical illnesses that are either mysterious or untreatable in the eyes of many physicians.

I smile at many patients who describe what I do as holistic, for I have never seen myself as holistic in any fashion. I have a rare gift of seeing patterns and knowing relationships between the body's emergent processes which helps me to find their disturbances in most cases, and then correcting the imbalances. Diet is important for many reasons, and not everyone eats a Paleo plan. Eating a restrained diet (Paleo) allows a physician to examine a patient's reactions to nutrition and measure their hormonal and metabolic functions in an artificially controlled environment. Food is essentially a drug or constellation of compounds fused together with a purpose of providing energy and restorative molecules to the body. Eating is stressful to the gastrointestinal tract and if there is a disturbance in the breakdown or digestion of the food they eat, their body will react with immune reactions, fatigue and sometimes death.

There is a growing field of functional medicine. I do not know exactly what functional medicine is, but we could start a field of applied medicine and it would probably end up in the same place: nowhere. The practice of medicine is just that: Medicine. Labels mean nothing to a patient who needs attention when their illnesses are beyond the boundaries of the typical mindset of physicians practicing traditional occidental allopathic medicine. Therefore, I see myself as a Wide-Ranging Universalist.

Many of the patients in the office have asked me about my plans for retirement. More specifically, who am I going to train to carry the torch of my Wide-Ranging Universal approach after I am gone. That is a difficult question to answer. I have reached out to many physicians who are younger than I and asked if they would be willing to learn much of what I do. After they shadow me for a few sessions, I think the overall feeling about my practice approach is overwhelmed. They seldom realize it has taken me over thirty years of study and practice to rough out the connections between dark-field microscopy, computerized regulation thermography, and blood, urine, and hair analysis when necessary. It's going to take me a number of years to train the right person(s), and there is no guarantee that they'll stay in Memphis. I realize the right person will come along at some point, maybe two or three. All that I ask is that if a physician is in the office with me during your patient visit, let them in our sessions, for it is the only way they can see what occurs and learns how to interact with those that are in the Stone family. We might have a chance of finding the right person for the opportunity to continue to carry the torch.

As the healthcare reform bill gets deeper into the soul of the country, most Americans are going to realize that their healthcare dollar is going to have to be spent on valuable services provided by a single provider. The massive deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for everything healthcare related is going to drive more patients to physicians like me. It is inevitable. The reforms will transform healthcare and those physicians who really understand the human condition in its entirety will have a windfall of patients. They will not be millionaires like the hospital administrators, they will not be ostracized by their fellow physicians, and they will be emulated. Any complex case that requires someone to care for multiple illnesses at one time will be referred to them.

The specialists will just provide procedures since the face to face experience of patient care will not prove profitable to them. It will be a loss. The specialists will counter their financial loss by hiring Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Paramedics, and any other kind of physician extenders to grind out the monotonous flow of doctor to patient interactions. Hospitals will hire the same kind of physician extenders to provide care, and physicians will become nothing more than overseers of a failed mediocre medical system. The legal tort reforms are already in place, preventing the civil courts from hearing most malpractice cases so no one is going to police the medical field for accuracy and efficiency. This is the time for those physicians who wish to develop and deliver a universal experience to their patients to do it. They will have to refrain from using paramedical personnel to see their patients unless they are being seen for routine care that requires no real cerebral activity. The exceptions will be for those who have had the advanced training necessary to integrate the all of it.

I am an advocate of healthcare extenders such as Nurse Practitioners, and I would embrace a relationship with a group of them to provide Stone care to patients that cannot get a comprehensive universal healthcare experience from anyone in their insurance panel or regional area. However, they too would have to be trained on the proper interpretation of the clinical data and exact delivery of the appropriate medication, food plan, supplements, exercise, and psychosocial coping mechanisms to help those who are ill. If they had any questions, they would have to seek the counsel of a physician who can think in a higher order to put everything together. Perhaps the Stone Institute will become one of the Training Centers for the answers to the healthcare apocalypse that appears to be coming right around the corner. Make no mistake, it is coming.

If one were to leave a legacy of change, what would it be? Some have found ways to find a path to infamy: assassins of innocent people for a factitious cause of righteousness related to some disturbed or perverted religious worldview. Others have given their lives to save others, only to fade away into the past under the dust of time and are cloaked in anonymity. At the time of their deeds of heroism, they were celebrated, maybe even given awards or medals to signify their amazing commitment to something greater than themselves. But time has a way of erasing their identities and their deeds from the memories of all mankind.    

I'm not sure what my legacy will be. I never really thought of leaving an intellectual legacy, but I have learned amazing things from others who have passed on and left something behind for me to benefit from, which ultimately helped me to help others.

Perhaps it's time for me to open the path for others and allow the natural unfoldment of a Wide-Ranging Universal healthcare practitioner model to develop. We'll see how the world turns. If any of you think I am contemplating retirement, forget it. I'm gonna work until I physically and mentally cannot. I didn't sign up for a retirement plan.

To me, there's no such word as retirement. 

Doc

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