Posted tagged ‘exercise’

Doctors Don’t Know Anything

March 16, 2012

My apologies for slacking on writing posts recently…little preoccupied with my own life, but we’ll get to that in another post perhaps. Today, though I wanted to discuss doctor’s lack of knowledge about so much! Recently I saw my neurologist and had a follow-up MRI for the MS symptoms I experienced last year. A year ago, I had an MRI that showed multiple lesions, and a few weeks ago, I was told by my doctor that most of the lesions were gone and there was nothing new! Great news, right? Here is the conversation that my doctor and I had:

Doc: So your MRI looks a lot better…a lot of the lesions are gone…
Me: You sound surprised. Is this what you were expecting in the course of treatment?
Doc: Well, sometimes this happens…
Me: Do you think it’s the medication I’ve been taking?
Doc: Perhaps…
Me: Do you normally see this in MS after starting treatment?
Doc: In some cases…
Me: Can you tell me anything definitive?
Doc: Possibly…

Ok, the last two lines were made up, but you get the idea. My doctor really could not tell me whether I am getting better because of the medication I am taking, the lifestyle changes I’m making, the cinnamon I’m eating, or just the course of the illness. I do understand that MS is an unpredictable illness and often times it is difficult to predict whether symptoms are related to specific findings, as well as response to treatment. In fact although I complain (from a patient standpoint) I also have the perspective of a physician. As a psychiatrist, there are many unknowns about mental health, including its etiology, let alone its treatment. We rely on research studies for evidence-based treatment options, but sometimes there just isn’t any data. We then have to rely on our own or others’ clinical experience to guide us. I often start patients on antidepressants, and the patient improves. Did the patient improved from a placebo effect, the medication, the support and counseling, or even exercise? Hard to say in some cases.

Despite my questions, I am of course happy to be doing better. I feel confident enough that the medication I am taking is helping to some degree, so I will continue to take it. But it’s just a guess.

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Zumba Part II: I Have No Rhythm

August 21, 2011

But I don’t really care. I returned for a class this morning with my sister, and to be honest if it weren’t for her, I’m not sure I would have woken up on time for it. It’s always better to have a workout partner who can hold you accountable! Anyway I went back today, and it was just as fun as last week. I did realize though, that for being Middle Eastern (meaning belly-dancing and shaking it should be in my genes), I really can’t dance. I think I’ve always known this, from the time I took tap dance and jazz as a kid, and had trouble then too. I have also realized over the years, when friends say they want to go dancing (!), my enthusiasm always wanes. I used to think it was laziness, maybe, but I also think I’ve never felt comfortable because my rhythm lacks. The zumba class is different though–you mess up and no one notices, because everyone is really focused on themselves. Hopefully this is a trend that sticks for me, and maybe I’ll pick up a couple of moves for when I go out with friends.

In the meantime, I’ll have some blog posts coming up soon on more “psychiatric” topics! See you shortly!

Giving in to Zumba

August 16, 2011

This past weekend I saw my best friend from high school, Ms. Melody Moezzi. She visited me from across the country, and we hadn’t seen each other in over two years! It’s interesting to see people after a while–even though we talk frequently on the phone, seeing someone in person makes some things more real. One of the activities Melody insisted we cover this weekend was a Zumba class. Now, I’ve been hearing about this zumba craze for a couple of years now, and I’ve heard Melody talk about how great it is, how it’s fun, it’s a great workout, and how addicting it is. I’ve always shied away from what I consider fads–I’m really not sure why, since something must be good about it if so many people like it, right? I think I worry about being too much of a conformist, and not an individual thinker. Not that any of the other exercise I do is crazy unique or anything–it’s a combination of yoga, running, spin class, and occasionally the Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred video (which is amazingly hard but great after about three days or so).

That being said, Melody had such enthusiasm in person about the class, that I thought, why not? We showed up early Saturday morning and filed in with about 15 other women or so. Something I noticed right away (and yes, psychiatrists do notice everything, whether we admit it or not), was the diversity of the women. Ages ranged from 20’s to 60’s, and a wide range of race was covered–Hispanic, Middle Eastern, black, white, and East Asian. This was one trend that spanned all cultures.

Once the class started, the music starting bumping, as did the instructor’s behind. I was really impressed with how she moved, to be honest. Also–she seemed to really enjoy herself, and encouraged us to enjoy ourselves as well. She had three fifteen minute segments of Middle Eastern belly dancing, Indian bhangra, and of course merengue. All of it was fun, fast, and got us sweating. It was really liberating, and since most of the women were not official dancers per se, no one seemed to feel self conscious about fumbling with some of the more complex moves.

All in all, I’m glad I gave it a chance, and now I have a new workout to add to my repertoire. The psychiatrist in me feels obligated to throw in this tidbit–that exercise can be as effective as medication for depression. Yes, that’s right, if you’re not too depressed to get yourself out there, it can raise your serotonin levels as much as a medication, and is a good option (or addition) for treatment. So get out there, and get moving!

As always, I welcome any comments and questions.