Last week I went to see Henri Balaguera, who is a doctor of functional medicine (he is also a traditional doctor of western internal medicine). It seems everyone I know has heard of functional medicine. Before this appointment, I hadn’t; I was there on a referral from my husband Jon, who knows Henri from the Lahey Clinic, where they work together.
Luckily, there were leaflets in the waiting room so that I could familiarize myself with what might happen after I entered Henri’s office.
Henri spent a few hours with me, talking first about my familial relationships before discussing my symptoms, which include an arthritic ankle, hypertension, back pain, and episodes of depression. What struck me was how much time Henri spent talking to me about my relationships and how they affect me. His intuition, together with an obviously genuine interest in helping me heal and a kind of wisdom I don’t often encounter made the appointment not just affecting… it was life changing.
So much so that I went there saying “I won’t be doing any crazy diet or changing what I eat. I eat a very healthy diet.”
And here I am changing what I eat. The reason for this is simple. Henri diagnosed me with dysbiosis and increased intestinal permeability. That translates to leaky gut syndrome. Not arthritis. It was like getting a new lease on life.
And he is confident that once I deal with my leaky gut my arthritis will cease to plague me. He also mentioned I had some work to do on my relationships and that my spirituality, which for so many years was a bigger part of my life, needs to take priority. He thinks my hypertension will benefit from this advice since my anxiety will decrease with a more accepting perspective on the things that people close to me do and have done.
Functional medicine is a kind of holistic medicine, so Henri was treating all of me. Not just my hypertension and my ankle, though he assures me both will benefit from a few adjustments to my habits and habits of mind.
So far, it’s been 5 days. I have given up coffee, wine, gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs … there has been a great deal of complaining and whining. Jon jokes that we are eating twigs. He has decided to do the diet with me and has not complained. I am doing all of the complaining for both of us.
A few days in, I have more energy, I feel lighter, and the pain in my back seems to have stopped. My ankle still bothers me and my blood pressure is still up. But it’s only day 5.