Functional Medicine Journey Part II

I’ve come to really enjoy my working with Edna on this functional medicine journey. We have met several times since my last post to discuss the most intimate details of my physical and emotional health. It means peeling back the layers of my life and reexamining things.

Edna herself is simultaneously jolly and stern; she is a deep listener and remembers finite details. Every session we have is fulfilling and enlightening in the best way possible but mostly because she’s helped me make connections in my life I never made before. Her medical knowledge runs deep and she has great intuition and human understanding.

I always felt disconnected from my physical issues and frustrated by my inability to ‘control’ them, but Edna has taught me that it’s all interrelated – the patterns and connections have always been there.

Here’s what second part of my process with Edna has entailed:

Life story and the retelling

Imagine your life laid bare in a chronological timeline.

That’s exactly how Edna asked me to recount my entire life story. Important events, transformative moments, traumas, etc. Everything.  We started by discussing my parents and grandparents on both sides. 

Epigenetics (a topic I’m very interested in now) has an influence throughout generations and can impact people psychologically as well as physically. This part of treatment was eye-opening. Facts laid bare. What factors lead my ancestors to live the way they did? What stress was passed down through genetic pathways? I realized the blind spots were glaring. What did I actually know about my grandparents and great-great-grandparents? I knew then that my family’s health and general history deserved a closer look. It’s been an interesting journey in itself to uncover those details.

According to the CDC, “Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.”

Eventually Edna read my entire life story – and that of my parents – back out loud to me. It was a surreal experience because there was something so clarifying about hearing an objective person reading my life story out loud like that. I could appreciate all the external factors that affected me year by year in a new way. Contemplating their physical, mental, and spiritual toll on me. The dots were connected in a major way after that session.

Medical Questioning

As much time as we spent looking back at my life story as well as my family’s, we also spent a good two sessions covering my physical health. I filled out five long questionnaires and answered her questions in real-time (no body function left out 😅). The larger picture of mental and physical health was coming together slowly. With the busy schedules not always aligning well, we’ve had some sessions via Zoom. The physical exam portion of the treatment covered everything from skin, nails, to hair.

Nutritional Coaching

I was so looking forward to this part of our sessions. Since my acid reflux was the reason I came to Edna for treatment in the first place, it was interesting to learn more about what foods could be triggering my reactions. Although I was eating healthy (practically a 100% vegetarian diet), I was running into trouble.

“Food is connection, medicine, energy”

She has now put me on a general elimination diet but tailored with specific recommendations to fit my needs. The goal of the elimination diet is to reduce inflammation, embrace whole foods, and restore the gut’s microbiome.

This has definitely been the hardest part of the journey so far. Figuring out what foods trigger the acid, the discomfort. So far, dairy and gluten are big no-no’s and this has meant having to cook more simply, reducing sauces and noting missteps as I go. This elimination diet is really all about trial and error and isolating the culprits. I’ve been committed to it but on certain days (like on the weekends) where I slip, I’m reminded of the importance of sticking with it. As part of the coaching, I submitted a microbiome analysis and will learn more about the results next week.

Major Takeaways So Far

From a young age, there was a lot going on in my life. Divorces, new starts, constantly moving, constantly changing. I never felt my gripes were special, but the fact is they’ve had a huge impact on how my body digests and deals with external stressors, how I view myself. My expat lifestyle, although something I’m really proud of, has been a factor in my struggle to find balance and wellness within. I’m dedicated, more than ever, to getting in synch with myself, with my health.

Moving forward, we will work on how I can better anchor myself, create boundaries, and of course, find a diet that supports my gut and minimizes acid reflux. To be continued…

Functional Medicine Resources for Beginners

Edna Schur’s Practice

Useful Function Medicine Podcast by Dr. Mark Hayman

Institute of Functional Medicine Resources

One response to “Functional Medicine Journey Part II”

  1. Hi, I’m another US expat living in Switzerland and struggling with longtime health issues. I just had “functional medicine” recommended by an American friend and found your post when I did a web search to see if there were any practices in Switzerland. Edna sounds amazing but from her site it looks like she is about to go on maternity leave! I may wait till October to consult her or might look for someone else. Too bad it seems they are all in Zurich (I am about 2 hours away).

    I hope your journey is going well. Health is a big puzzle and the conventional knee-jerk ways of doing things often do not work and sadly do more harm than good. I really admire those who have committed to listening to the body’s messages and finding the way to become their healthiest and most vital self.

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