Not long ago I had an analysis of my messaging called the “brand archetype”. It’s a method to determine the “voice” you use in describing and delivering your services in order to be able to attract the kind of people who will most benefit from your work and be a joy to work with.

My results were “The Rebel Caregiver”. Hmmmm…. I expected the “caregiver” because that’s what we do at Vitality Renewal–we provide exceptional care, allowing people to be heard, while instilling hope and a plan for improving their health to the best level possible.

But “rebel”–REALLY? Me? I grew up blending in and pleasing, a true rule-follower. Not only that, but my career in medicine began in the military. I was active duty in the Air Force for 8 years. No rebel there. I was taught to say “Yes sir!” and follow the plan. My training in Ob/Gyn was very traditional. I could quote all the studies about why we do what we do, and could critique them as far as which were superior by being “randomized controlled trials”, the pinnacle of evidence-based medicine.

So WHERE did this rebel thing come from? And, more importantly, could it actually be true?

My Rebel Path

Looking back at my career and path trajectory I can actually see it. I didn’t WANT to be a rebel. I was a “dyed in the wool” ACOG-knows-best kind of doctor. However, over time I started to realize that what I was doing WASN’T WORKING! I had no answer for the women who were confiding in me that they didn’t feel well even though their labs were “normal.” I actually believed them when they told me that they didn’t eat much and they DID exercise, so why were they gaining weight all of a sudden?

I just couldn’t stomach the “eat less and exercise” more standard answer. Or the blow-off statement “Well that’s normal for your age.”

The Wake-Up Calls

Then there were a few “aha” moments that really sealed the deal.

One of them was related to the black-box warning of “Fosamax” , a medication for bone health. Do you remember that? There was a time when Fosamax (or Boniva) was recommended for both prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. I used to prescribe them frequently. It was a rare woman over 50 that WASN’T a candidate for the medication, since it was for both prevention and treatment… I thought I was helping. But then came a warning that after 5 years these medications could actually INCREASE the risk of fracture with minimal trauma–WTF??? (Read more about that in my blog post on Bone Health)

Another “aha” moment was when I looked up the term “Hashimoto’s thyroiditis” in a medical encyclopedia/clinical resource and saw the statement: “Hashimoto’s is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries… but we don’t recommend checking for it. Just treat the hypothyroidism if it exists.” Excuse me? If your immune system is destroying your thyroid gland, don’t you think that is important? (Read more about this at my blog post on Hashimoto’s)

And then there was the hormone replacement debacle. Pre-2003 everyone should take it. Post-2003 no one should take it. Didn’t seem to matter that the studies looking at the risks versus benefits weren’t even looking at the true hormones your body makes. They were looking at estrogens from a HORSE and a progesterone-like hormone called medroxy-progesterone-acetate. These are NOT the same thing. Yet very few people were talking about it–only “quacks” who talked about “bioidentical” hormones, and actually monitored levels and metabolism to customize a regimen… When I attended my first bio-identical hormone conference I was totally shocked that I had never learned about it before. After all, I had excellent training as an Ob/Gyn!

Once I learned this stuff, I couldn’t unlearn it. And I couldn’t keep silent. I no longer fit in at my multi-specialty group. I wanted more for my patients. I wanted to truly help them, not just band-aid their symptoms with potentially risky medications.

After lots of soul-searching and prayer, I realized I needed to leave my comfortable job in order to practice medicine the way I believed it should be practiced. I didn’t WANT to be a rebel. But I couldn’t, in good conscience, keep doing things that just didn’t work. I OWED it to my patients, the women who trusted me to be their guide, who confided in me of their struggles, to research and recommend things that actually WORK!

So yes, I guess I DID become a rebel. But reluctantly. I didn’t seek out being a rebel. I really tried to make the traditional environment work. It was a huge leap of faith to leave my established practice and start my own. I had to let go of some deeply ingrained ideas about following rules. I’d be lying if I said it was easy… but I HAD to do it in order to live my life with authenticity. I couldn’t recommend things that at best didn’t work well, and at worst might actually be harmful. I took an oath to HELP. I took an oath to FIRST DO NO HARM.

I guess I AM the (Reluctant) Rebel Doctor

I am WILLING to be a rebel, if it means getting to the root of WHY you are struggling. I’m WILLING to be a rebel if I can instill hope for healing. I’m REBELLING that traditional medicine has all the answers. I’m REBELLING that we have to accept that fatigue, weight gain and brain fog are normal as we age! I’m REBELLING that the best we have to offer women for breast imaging is a mammogram that not only hurts, but comes with harmful radiation exposure. I’m REBELLING that we shouldn’t be able to ask questions as data comes in regarding Covid illness recovery and vaccination risks. I’m rebelling on YOUR behalf.

I’m NOT a rebel without (or with) a cause. I’m a rebel BECAUSE of a cause. I want to hold the flag of hope and empowerment. So much of our health is WITHIN our control. Let’s learn about it together. Let’s keep asking questions and challenging the status-quo. Let’s DO THIS. Are you with me?