Last month I was on a plane that was diverted from my home destination because of a thunderstorm in the area. We had started out right on time and were actually scheduled to be 20 minutes early at the gate. About an hour before landing, the pilot announced that because of the storms we were going to swing around to the west of the airport and we would arrive about 10 minutes late. Thirty minutes later he announced we were going to land in Abilene (about 175 miles west of Dallas) and refuel and wait until the storms cleared.

None of us were part of the decision-making process, but I found myself with two clear thoughts: 1) I was grateful that the pilot was putting the safety of the passengers and crew ahead of an arbitrary time schedule and 2) I was delighted that our area was getting rain since this has been a record-breaking hot and dry season in northern Texas. Don’t get me wrong, my patient husband was sitting at the airport for several hours because of the mixed messages from the internet notification service – and if you’ve traveled in or around DFW airport in the last six months you know that there is a horrific amount of construction at the north entrance to the facility. We gird our loins carefully when we must travel through it!

Thinking about this experience, I mused later about healthcare providers who fill the role of that pilot in the storm. None of my clients are looking to have life-threatening complications or diseases. Certainly no one signed up for cancer or diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome. I listen to people daily who were blind-sided by a test result or a new symptom like a breast mass in their body; my job is to listen and explore root causes. My training uses western medicine and its technology along with my intuition and experience. My eastern medicine training in acupuncture helps me see the patterns of illness and compare them to what I learn about my client’s nature and disposition.

And then I suggest a course and explain why I chose it. Here is where the co-piloting comes in. For example, I can teach breath work as a type of stress management and show what it feels like to be in coherence using HeartMath. The tool is only useful, though, if it’s used and used regularly. Similarly, I can talk about Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet and hand out a sheet that describes it, or I can suggest an elimination diet that takes out gluten or dairy, but my client has to agree to their role in the strategy. I can’t fly the plane alone! On the other hand, I have hopefully instilled enough trust and engendered enough respect that my suggestions make sense and the course I’ve plotted feels right.

Most of my clients don’t want to fly the plane. They just want to hear why the pilot chose the course (s)he did. And then they know they are part of the action plan.

This is your captain signing off! As always, we know you have a choice when choosing who is piloting your healthcare plane; thank you for your interest and attention…

Until next time, Be Well!