Published on November 22nd, 2013 | by Nathaniel


Learning to Work with Your Doctor

This post is dedicated to:
Doctors- Dr. Eric Curcio (UCLA), Dr. Melinda Braskett (UCLA), Dr. Lynn Connolly (UCLA), Dr. Stratos Christianakis (USC), Dr. Edward Hu (USC), Dr.Soma  Sahai (USC)
Health Care Providers- Elizabeth Arevalo (USC), Olive Nworie (USC)
Alternative Medicine Professional- Brooke Niss (Universal Family Wellness)


You’re comfortably coasting through life and it hits. Boom. You’re now working to overcome a chronic illness that came and sucker-punched you out of left-field and into the lower depths of the dug-out. It’s affecting every aspect of your life- your relationships, your mental health, and your ambitions. After a few months of putting it off, you decide to go see a doctor. But your doctor, like you, has no clue what’s going on. And in your head, you’re thinking – “But you’re the doctor!”

Maybe like me, you’ve been there before- approaching your health journey as a one-step-cure-all; we’re conditioned to think of doctors and healthcare providers as shamans and magic healers. Don’t get me wrong, great doctors possess a wealth of knowledge, but healthcare is still very much a process of scientific discovery. Your body is unique and requires its own process for healing to manifest. This includes faith, patience, the right combination of western and eastern medicine, and working closely with your doctors.

How to Work with Your Doctor:

1) Partner with Your Doctors-

(Nathaniel with Dr. Curcio)

N_w_Dr CurcioWhether he realizes it or not, I christened Dr. Curcio, at UCLA, the captain of my healthcare-ship. I have to admit- I’m still not sure exactly what an internist does… but I can say there isn’t a thing Dr. Curcio hasn’t done for me! He has such a humble and sincere approach to healthcare and has such a giving spirit. Aside from being an Olympian-emailer (his response time is unparalleled), he’s taken the time to listen and validate my concerns as a patient.

When you make a conscious decision to partner with your doctors, you understand and respect their medical expertise- however, you also take the time to research, learn, and communicate your symptoms. You question- I ask for copies of lab reports and documents to better understand treatment options. You make the effort to connect with them on a personal level- I spent time talking about faith with Olive and stuttered through countless Spanish conversations with Elizabeth. You understand that they are not God- they may prescribe a medication that isn’t effective, not because they don’t know what they’re doing but because your condition is unique.  They may communicate one thing when in actuality, something else is happening. Doctors are people too. And I truly believe that they are well-intentioned.


2. Find Professionals Who Operate in Their Gifting-

(Nathaniel with Dr. Sahai)

N_w_Dr_SahaiGrowing up I wanted to be a pediatrician- I was in the medical academy in high school and also job shadowed, and volunteered at a community hospital in Bakersfield. I think I would make a good doctor- but the question is, “Would I make a great one?”

I truly believe the doctors that I’ve worked with and am working with are operating in their gifting. I’ve been working with my neurologist, Dr. Sahai, at USC, for the past three years to address a rare muscle disease. Aside from being extremely smart (no really… she’s extremely smart) and personable, she is clearly operating in her gifting. This isn’t just because she’s good at what she does- but rather the way she does it.

Sometimes our limited view on the word “art” inhibits us from recognizing how creative medicine and healthcare is. I look at my doctors as artists; art isn’t just what you do, but how you choose to do it. And when you’re operating in your gifting, you infuse your heart into the way you provide service. You create an experience for your patient based on their needs and your skill-set. And I believe every one of my doctors has done this.

3. Consider Alternative Approaches-

Conventional western medicine is definitely important- scientific studies indicate so… But at the same time, many healthcare issues require a holistic approach. I was blessed to be able to partner with Brooke Niss, a Chinese Medicine Professional at Universal Family Wellness, who has such a gentle and comforting approach. Chinese medicine may not have solved my healthcare equation, but it did give me a better understanding of my body and the importance of knowing what I put into it. Brooke made every effort to look at my whole body and consider options that were less toxic. We modified my diet, tried Chinese herbs, and also talked about the importance of mediation.

N_w_Dr Braskett Additional Tips:

1. Bring all of your lab work to appointments.

2. Have a list of the supplements/medications your taking.

3. Ask your doctor how they prefer to communicate (get their email address if possible).

4. Read about the symptoms you’re experiencing and communicate them to your Doc.

5. If you have more than one doctor, ask them to communicate with each other.

(Nathaniel with Dr. Braskett)

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