#MochaDocs, what I do for a living and why

Earlier this year, I was excited to join Periscope™ and was so pleased to join the Mocha Medicine’s Facebook group’s “Pass the Scope” challenge. We answered a series of scheduled questions to introduce the world to what we do, who we are and what makes us unique and did it over 4 days. These were some of the things I covered—

Day 1: Introduce yourself

So I’ve been on Periscope™ for about 3 months now and doing a twice weekly broadcasts–“#WellnessWednesdays” and #(No)Superwoman Saturdays “ or Sundays, depending on how tired I am. There, I discuss my book “How to Avoid the Superwoman Complex, *” which is my first published book, but hopefully not my last. The book has to do with how many hats and balls women nowadays have to juggle to take care of home life, work life, kids, elderly parents, etc. You name it–women have to carry that burden. We have to carry all of that on our shoulders and we end up not taking care of ourselves. I’ve also created Swiner Publishing Company™ to help other folks to become self-published. My husband owns his own media and graphics company, Spyder Marketing™, and together we are helping other folks to become self-published, to market their books and start different careers. If they need handholding and an accountability partner, that’s what I am. My husband does photography, the cover, the web site, and the commercials, so we are helping others to achieve this dream of self-publishing, if that is what you would like to do.

Day #2: My specialty. The how, the why and what’s to love about it.

My specialty is Family Medicine. If you’re not familiar with primary care and what that means, primary care means the docs that are in your “medical home.” He or she is the doc you call, or that you SHOULD call for most issues. This includes your family doc, your general practitioner, your pediatrician, or your internal medicine doctor. I have had the privilege of being a family medicine doctor for the past 8 years. That means I take care of everyone from the cradle to the grave; newborns straight out of the hospital up to age 99.9 years of life. I say I’m privileged to do that, because I get to take care of the whole person, the entire family, the grandparents down to the grandkids and everyone in between. I think that’s a special place that we hold in the family. We take care of everything and everyone. Some people claim we’re the “jack of all trades and master of none,” but I tend to disagree. We have to know a vast amount of knowledge as family docs. A lot of it has to do with the art of medicine and knowing the patient’s history so well that once they step foot in the door you’ve already knocked out certain possibilities, because you know the person so well personally and known them since they were born if you’re lucky.

I also know that we are the foot soldiers on the ground of medicine, meaning we are usually the first people the patients see when they need us or are in trouble, for urgent and preventative medicine, and that which prevents all the issues that keeps them out of the hospital and encourages a long quality of life. As family and primary care docs, we try our best to keep patients out of the emergency room and hospital. Sometimes, the clinic’s acute schedule is very busy, but we still try our darnedest to keep them out of the emergency room and establish primary care as their medical home so they are not using up costs and have good follow up. I love being a family medicine doc, and I wouldn’t have chosen any other discipline. Growing up, I thought I would’ve been a pediatrician, just because of my love for children and science and math in high school. Once I got into college, when I did some shadowing and volunteering in the hospital, I thought maybe I could be an ob-gyn–deliver some babies, do some surgery. But when I started doing my clinical rotations in medical school, I soon realized I didn’t want to live the lifestyle of a gyn but I still wanted to be involved in that medicine. As a family doc, I get to do a little of it all. I still love gyn and pediatrics. During my ob-gyn rotations, I was sad when I had to deliver baby and give baby away most times. I wanted to see the baby for follow up and see baby grow up. I did a clinical rotation my 3rd year of medical school and family medicine and had the ‘aha’ moment! “That’s it!” I said. Family Medicine just fit, and I haven’t looked back since.

The other positive thing about family medicine it’s difficult to get bored. Some people think that it’s just about seeing patients in clinic from 9-5 in an outpatient setting, but the new world of family medicine is vast. You can do a fellowship and deliver babies. You can run an urgent care or an emergency room. You can be a hospitalist and only take care of patients in the hospital as a family doc. I do many procedures. I love getting my hands dirty in terms of IUDs, biopsies, joint injections–you name it, I’ll try it. That’s another privilege of family medicine is being able to see a baby first thing in the morning and grandmother at the end of the day.

Someone asked the question, “What’s your trick for eliminating med school debt, plus pay the bills and support a family?” Good question. So, my trick is learning to save early. Once you start making money at whatever job you choose, make sure you are saving and paying more than just the minimum on your loans so you can pay them off a little bit sooner. Hopefully, you’re being wise and you have a financial planner who is helping you to set those goals and put away money in certain mutual funds, etc. so that you’re keeping some money to enjoy life but staying on top of your loans. Loans can be massive, as I’m sure you know.

What I’m doing now is broadening my horizons a little bit with the book I wrote in March, which has led speaking and doing my own “New Year, New You” women’s health conference that I’m doing (Jan. 2016). Doing some new things in medicine now with writing and social media that is now fun, not that I don’t mind seeing patients 9-5 in clinic but now that its been 8 years in the game, I want to spice it up a bit. Hopefully one day I can work part time in clinic and then come to your home town and do some speaking. Were talking about family medicine, which some days are 100%, some days are 70%. So that’s what I do and why I love it.

Day #3 for the MochaDoc scope. What is your favorite topic to discuss?

One thing I commonly talk about is sleep. I often get the complaint of not being able to sleep with insomnia or someone having too much sleep. The first chapter in my book is called “Sweet Sleep.” If I could list sleep as a hobby, I would. I like to make sure everyone around me is getting good rest. Rest is vitally important for many different reasons. I can link lack of sleep or sleep dysfunction, as well as stress to any medical condition. If you’re not getting good rest, not only does that mean not getting enough hours of sleep, it could also mean sleeping 12 hours and not feeling rested. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and other conditions can prevent you from sleeping. You need it to feel revitalized.

If your airway is obstructed while you sleep, then high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, chronic headaches can be complications of this. Talk to someone about it. If your family member says you sound like you stop breathing in your sleep, then that’s a major red flag too. I like to talk about it, because it may be something like a just a quick fix or something you may not even realize is affecting your sleep. How about that 2nd glass of wine with dinner? Half to a whole glass of wine occasionally might help make you fall aslee,p but it cuts off its effect after 3 – 4 hours, and you wake up unable to go back to sleep. So, don’t over-do that. Don’t take your work to bed with you as much as you can help it. As doctors, we try to take our computers and notes home with us, try to answer that last message, look at our phones. These things can cause way too much stimulation and can keep your brain awake. We’re actually doing more harm than we realize. So, get more sleep!

Day #4 Mochadocs: Share a story about a patient that inspired you

Recently, a middle aged black female, with family history of diabetes and high blood pressure (bp), struggling with elevated bp and blood sugar, on medications. We had a serious ‘come to Jesus’ talk about what she was doing that was not healthy and what she was not doing to take better care of herself so we could get off medication and defeat this curse of her family of having all of these medical problems. We worked really hard and talked about diet, stress, stress at work. Was she exercising? Was she eating out all the time? Was she adding salt to her diet? She ended up having to be on bp medications and having to watch her sugars closely. Her glucose was not in the diabetic range but definitely borderline. Over the course of 6-9 months, with follow up, encouraging and motivating her, she was able to lose the weight. She lost the 20-30 pounds, was able to get off her bp medication, and was no longer in danger of having diabetes. She is happiest, mostly, with herself. She shared her story on Facebook with her friends, and they were encouraged to do the same. It was all her. I gave her the info and the encouragement, but she was the one who had to follow through. I love it when patients value the information that you give them and actually make the change. I’m extremely proud of her and proud of all my patients that really take control of their lives and not just pop a pill and take care of the other factors that can potentially get them off the medication, if they were consistent. So, that’s the kind of thing that pushes me and encourages me to continue doing what I’m doing and preaching what I’m preaching–self care, getting good rest, getting regular exercise and following through. I can talk till I’m blue in the face, but unless you’re doing what I encourage you to do at home, then it’s not really worth anything.



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