Today, I have the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Clifton Meador about his newest book Fascinomas.
A "fascinoma," as Dr. Meador defines it, is medical slang for an unusually interesting medical case. And Clifton K. Meador, MD has a gift for filtering through these cases and coming up with succinct but extremely entertaining stories. He has collected and curated 35 such cases from his own experience and the experiences of colleagues who have given permission to re-tell their own blockbusters. Each case is reads like a short story – the presentation of a strange set of symptoms, the initial response of the examining doctor(s), gradual revelation of further symptoms (sometimes via revealed secrets from the presenting patient), and the final diagnosis. Clifton's mantra is: “There is not a medical diagnosis or a defined disease behind every chronic symptom; but there is a demonstrable cause if you listen and search carefully.”
Yesterday Clifton visited Carl Bozeman's blog and spoke with Carl about advice doctors/healers can give when a patient has been diagnosed with chronic or acute symptoms but has determined they can "heal" themselves.
Here’s my interview with Clifton:
KATHI: I am constantly warning my clients about labeling their symptoms with a diagnosis, as this sometimes means that we treat only the symptoms and never discover what the true “cause” of our symptoms is, and are destined to repeat "groundhog day style," over and over. Can you explain what your research has shown regarding Western Medicine’s standard of diagnosing symptoms instead of attempting to learn their cause?
CLIFTON: I have not done systematic research, but from my experience I am in complete agreement with you. Of course with an acute illness, a correct diagnosis can lead to a specific treatment (consider all the infectious diseases for which there is a curative antibiotic). With chronic recurring symptoms then, focusing on the symptoms as a step to uncovering the cause is essential. In this case a diagnosis often brings a halt to further inquiry or observations. Consider these “diagnoses”- irritable bowel, chronic fatigue syndrome, hypoglycaemia, even fibromyalgia. These diagnoses often bring a halt to further inquiry. What in the life of the patient correlates with the intensity of the symptoms? Who in the life of the patient is a toxic stressor? What substances correlate with the symptoms? What is the patient doing or not doing that is producing the symptoms. Full awareness comes only from careful observation. Full awareness often leads to a cure or amelioration of the symptoms.
KATHI: Could you give an explanation of how disease labels can often be harmful to the patient diagnosed?
CLIFTON: If the diagnosis is false then the real cause is hidden. The patient is often satisfied to have a label, albeit wrong. The search for the real cause either ceases or it is delayed, thus missing the opportunity to prevent harm.
If the diagnosis is correct, it often stops all searches for aggravating or precipitating factors. Even if one has coronary artery disease with chest pains, one needs to dig deeper. What events trigger the pain? What circumstances bring on the pain? What stressors in the life of the patient should be identified and corrected? These questions require careful self examination to answer. A diagnosis sounds so final that it precludes these essential observations of the life of the patient.
KATHI: One of the first practices that I ask my clients to start is a journal or daily log of everything that they ingest, any exercise they complete, as well as how their symptoms manifest. I see that you also recommend keeping a diary of symptoms, can you explain why you feel this is important and do you recommend it as a daily practice?
CLIFTON: You are so on target. Memory is tricky and often false. Writing down the observations is essential to find important correlations with the symptoms. Of course the more recurring and chronic the symptom, the more important are the diary entries. Most stressor or triggers for symptoms are hidden from consciousness. The diary brings them into consciousness. I believe once something is made fully aware, it can then be addressed or eliminated. Awareness is so important. I find that personal or professional toxic relationships are common and often denied or suppressed. Those old dictums are so true: he gives me a headache; he is a pain in the ass; he makes me want to throw up, and on and on.
I hope you enjoyed this short interview with Dr. Clifton Meador. In Fascinomas, all of the clinical facts are completely true – the story of the illness, the lab work, the imaging studies, and the physical exam findings. If you are intrigued by the curative power of listening and engaging the patient and the family in searching for clues, especially when the symptoms are chronic and recurring – pick up Fascinomas HERE.