Sunday, May 8, 2016

Reverse Engineering and Coming Up Empty

Fair warning...I'm back to talking about my brain.

I used to think I live in the engineer capital of the world until I sat down to write this post and did a little Google search and found this link (who knows how accurate it is and furthermore I really didn't read it,  I just looked at the pictured linked at the bottom). Nevertheless, there are a lot of engineers in Huntsville. More than that, I live with an "engineer". I put it in quotes because my husband's degree is electrical engineering but he hasn't ever had a job as an electrical engineer. But he has that kind of brain. I like to think I do to. When there is a problem, I want to figure out WHY and solve it. In my mind an engineer figures out how things work and they make them better.

I woke up this morning in tremendous pain. Not my legs like you might think after my "long run" yesterday. It was my hands and elbows. My hands hurt so bad I struggled to get the charging cord out of my phone and I couldn't make a fist. I couldn't close my hands without pain. Swelling is a side effect of steroids, but I have taken that to be a different kind of swelling; maybe I'm wrong.

Of course my first thought was "what did I eat that did this to me?!" The bad thing about trying to figure out food triggers is that a symptom can show up three days after you eat it. This could still be a reaction from whatever it was I had on Friday. Maybe it isn't food at all. Maybe it was from the run and it's just generalized joint swelling; I just feel it more in my hands? Maybe it's the antibodies attacking. Almost like damming up a stream of water and then taking the dam away-the water rushes harder and faster than it was before the dam was put in place.


To diagnose means to identify the nature of an illness or other problem by examination of the symptoms. Looking at my symptoms can give clues but it doesn't give the full picture. Traditional Western medicine solves problems in this manner. What are your symptoms? What box do those symptoms fit inside? Here's a solution to solve those symptoms.

That model doesn't usually get back to the root of the problem.

Think of a bird that can't fly. You see it has a hurt wing so you repair the wing. But then it pops up with a hurt wing again. You didn't solve the CAUSE you solved the symptom. You cured the resultant trouble but you didn't do anything to take care of why that bird had a hurt wing in the first place.

I think this is where "functional medicine" comes into play. It's harder than just looking at symptoms and correcting the resultant outcomes.

I think it's much like reverse engineering. There are different ways to reverse engineer something. One way is to take a program that is running and apply procedures to trace back the coding that was done to make that program work. Another way is to take apart a piece of machinery to see how it's built and how it all fits together.

When thinking through what could be happening in my body the possibilities are endless in my opinion. I could (okay, I HAVE) made myself crazy trying to figure it out.

And then I had lunch with a friend the other day.

This friend has a genetic/congenital condition that makes her connective tissue not function like it should. Think about it...this impacts every cell in your body. How your muscles and organs work, how your blood vessels work....  Imagine holding something that should have the viscosity of play dough but it's more like slime. My friend didn't cause this from anything she did or didn't do. It's not something she ate, and nothing she eats can CHANGE what is happening in her body. There's no emotional trauma in her past that has to be worked through. There are no exercises that will take this condition away.

And yet, there are things under her control. There are things that can make the resultant outcomes of the condition worse. There are foods that can aggravate it or work to counter the impact it has on her body.

There's a coupling of what is and is not under our direct control when it comes to our bodies. I have wanted/want this thing happening to me/in me to be under my direct influence. Yes, that is maddening when tracing outcomes back to the source is hard. But with time and work it could be done if that was the only factor.

I'm (slowly) coming to realize that it's not all under my direct influence. Just like my friend can't change the way she was born. But we can all adapt. I can learn to understand what is happening better. I can and should do all I can. But I have to keep in mind that all I can might not make big changes in the outcome. The hard part for me is the same for this medical condition as it is for training for triathlon. Doing my best and letting that be "good enough" because my best is all I have.

Thanks for stopping in and sticking around.

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