Come to the Light: The Life-Changing Diagnosis That Changed How I Practice Medicine

Founder’s Note: Our passion project has blown up faster than we ever could’ve imagined. Each day, our ideas reach hundreds of thousands of curious readers. And in the process, we’ve managed to score some truly valuable Connections. Today’s essay comes from one of them…

Dr. Phil Roberts’ name first graced these pages when we published his popular piece, “A Better Approach for Optimal Health as We Age.” After we ran it, we received dozens of notes from folks who wanted to hear more from Dr. Phil. We heard the message loud and clear… and we’re excited to accommodate.

Read on to discover Dr. Phil’s inspiring personal story. And stay tuned for more from him in the days and weeks ahead.

– Andy

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It was a typical, moderately busy day in the emergency room. My patients were spread across at least 10 different locations. (On a super busy day, they would line the halls in wheelchairs and gurneys.) I was looking for a free desktop computer so I could enter everyone’s information.

It had been 23 years since I worked my first ER shift. I started moonlighting in the department during my surgical internship, and the ER quickly found a home in my heart.

My time there followed two years of general surgery and another year working with an ENT physician in the military. As a young doctor, I relished the opportunity to learn more about what was “under the hood” in regard to human physiology. I truly loved being in medicine, and I loved serving human beings in need. Helping others through minor and major life issues – interacting with them, listening to them and working to improve their plight – brought me great joy.

But after two decades practicing ER medicine, that day I felt… different.

I knew something was not right. I was slipping.

At just 53 years old, I was starting to forget things. My response time was slowing – even in situations I’d dealt with many times before. Yes, 53 is “getting up there”… but I’ve worked with awesome physicians in their late 60s who still bring their A-game to patient care.

My head was filled with concerns about possible burnout or even early Alzheimer’s. The possibilities were scary.

After all, if I couldn’t care for myself… how could I possibly care for others?

A Life-Changing Test

Recalling a book I had recently read, I decided to get my hormones tested. Prior to that, I’d never given serious thought to evaluating my testosterone, estradiol or other hormone levels.

After all, ER medicine was about monitoring blood gases for certain medical conditions and brain natriuretic peptides for congestive heart failure, not to mention evaluating overdose indicators and measuring many other levels in the body.

But hormones?

Still, I figured it would be best to pursue all possible culprits.

I found a good compound pharmacist and submitted a salivary sample. The resulting diagnosis? Andropause (male menopause). Low levels of testosterone were the cause of my fogginess and slowed response times.

The compound pharmacist worked with me on a plan to raise my testosterone levels and improve my condition.

To tackle it all, I was instructed to take an estrogen blocker once a day and rub a DHEA-laden cream onto my skin (topically) in the mornings.

“Use a cream once a day and take an estrogen blocker… and that’s it?” I thought. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

But I wanted my situation to improve. So I applied the cream faithfully and took my estrogen blocker. Six months later, I went back for retesting and… wow.

A New Mission

The new labs showed my best lipid levels in more than 20 years. I could feel my energy levels returning, and, mentally, I was definitely closer to previous capacity. (My concerns about Alzheimer’s vanished.) Physically, several areas of strength and stamina were keener.

I couldn’t believe that all of this was the result of simply applying a testosterone cream. “I have to learn more about this process,” I thought.

I committed to learning more about these amazing hormones and plunged headfirst into the anti-aging scientific movement. My search led me to the American Academy of Anti-Aging Functional and Regenerative Physicians (A4M). I enrolled in their comprehensive training program and was able to study under some of the most innovative doctors and researchers I’ve ever worked with.

With hormones balanced, I found myself working the ER one week and studying the next. I went through A4M’s training to become an advanced diplomat while earning a master’s in Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine from the University of South Florida.

Easy? No. Worth it? Totally.

Coming to understand the root cause of my illness was a life-changing event. It rearranged how I approach medical conditions.

And it got me thinking…

Essential Know-How

What if we could reverse a chronic condition through nutrition or lifestyle changes? That would spare us from being sentenced to a lifetime of prescription medications.

What if we could use what we know about our genes to prevent – or even reverse – things that conventional medicine considers to be lifelong afflictions?

For six years, I ramped up my focus here, on functional medicine, as I cut back on my ER time. I saw the reversal of autoimmune conditions that I previously thought would never go away.

Hypertension… weight issues… Type 2 diabetes…

My new approach enabled me to improve these issues drastically in patients. Often, they went away entirely.

To be clear, I am not advocating for a functional-only approach to your health. Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all game. But it is important that you understand the differences between conventional and functional medicine – and why you need both types of practitioners on your personal medical team.

As Andy might say… it’s essential Know-How.

That’s why he’s asked me to share my insights with Manward readers going forward. My goal is to provide information that helps you statistically improve your health – no claims to treat, cure or diagnose (I will not be anyone’s doctor). I’ll merely do my best to bring you pearls of wisdom and things you can ponder or discuss with your personal medical team.

There’s no time for stone throwing. The United States is currently ranked 34th in healthiest nations in the world. Yet we’re No. 1 when it comes to annual spending on healthcare. Clearly something isn’t working.

We’ll get into some tips to assemble your best medical team next time. I can’t wait.

A Final Note: I’d love to hear from Manward readers. Keeping in mind everything I mentioned above (I absolutely cannot share personalized medical advice), what are some topics you’d like me to cover? Send an email to mailbag@manwardpress.com.

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