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What I learned from my mom the doctor

What I learned from my mom the doctor

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I remember the first time I truly realized my mom was different from other moms.

I was in 7th grade. My best friend, Jordan, was very sick and had missed a week of school. She couldn’t sleep, she had a fever, and itchy red spots had appeared all over her body. Her doctor wasn’t exactly sure what was wrong with her and gave her medicine to treat the symptoms. I was at Jordan’s house dropping off her homework that she missed and my mom joined us. She asked Jordan a few questions, mostly about her lifestyle over the past few weeks. After Jordan mentioned that her family took a vacation to Colorado, my mom stated quite simply, “Oh, I bet you anything that you have Rocky Mountain spotted fever.”

Jordan went to her doctor, asked for medicine to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and got better almost immediately.

Why could my mom diagnose Rocky Mountain spotted fever in just a few seconds, while Jordan’s doctor couldn't figure it out? Simple. She asked the patient for more details than just the symptoms.

Growing up, my mom worked as a family practitioner, a normal doctor. After over a decade as a practitioner, my mom realized she wanted to practice medicine in a different way. At a normal doctor’s appointment, you get about 5 minutes to explain what’s wrong with you. But for so many patients, the reasons why they are sick require more explanation than 5 minutes. When I was about 14 years old, my mom switched to holistic, alternative medicine, to give her patients more personalized care.  She opened her own practice, Alternatives: Center for Conscious Health in Rockbrook Village, one of the first holistic clinics in Omaha. And that's when my education really began. 

At my house, nutrition is a huge part of our daily lives. My three sisters and I were told by Dr. Mom that what we eat has a direct response on how we feel. If we were feeling sick, we could ask mom why we felt that way and which foods to eat to feel better. It was a blessing and a curse. A blessing because we could figure out how to soothe headaches or stomach cramps through food instead of a drug. A curse because most of my ailments were caused by my one true love: sugar. “Why do I feel bloated?” Sugar. “Why am I tired?” Sugar. “Why is my skin itchy?” Sugar.

Along with proper nutrition, my sisters and I learned the importance of supplements. Unless we eat fruits and vegetables with every meal, we all need a multivitamin or an assortment of vitamins to make up for what our diets lack. A daily multivitamin was always encouraged in my house, along with other specific vitamins if we weren’t feeling the best. If we had a cold, we’d take extra vitamin-C supplements. If we had stomach cramps, we’d take magnesium. My mom has always tried to teach us that if we have a problem, try to first fix it with nutrition and supplements, then turn to drugs if nothing is working.

The only aspect of my childhood that differs drastically from other kids would be doctor appointments. Sometimes my mom would know the doctors from medical school so our appointments were like a reunion for her. Other times, my mom would disagree with the doctor and nurses, so an appointment would turn into a heated debate.  She takes the term "mother knows best" to a whole new level when it comes to her family's health.  And I, being a middle child who always wants to keep the peace, would wish she wasn't so argumentative.  But I realized as I got older what a gift it was to have a mother who wasn't afraid to speak up when something didn't feel right.     

Growing up with a doctor as a mom enabled me to have an education about health without stepping inside a classroom. Growing up with a doctor as a mom taught me that a healthy lifestyle enables a higher quality of life. In fact, the only downside of having a mom as a doctor was that I could never fake being sick to get out of school.

 

Contact the writer:

402-444-1325, elizabeth.ryan@owh.com

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