Hi, and welcome to unicyclemedic!
My name is Will, I’m a junior doctor working in the United Kingdom having studied undergraduate medicine at the University of Cambridge, and then completed my clinical years in London. I intercalated with a degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience during my third year at Cambridge, and as the name suggests, I like to ride a unicycle from time to time.
I originally had no idea what do to with this blog. It started out as a revision tool that I put together in fourth year of med school; somewhere I could put handy revision aids, mnemonics and advice for exams and medicine in general. However this proved to be a vast amount of work on top of actually revising, and I found the stress of needing to produce content for the sake of it was hindering the original purpose, so it took somewhat of a hiatus for a while.
Then I started drawing cartoons. These silly snippets of life as a medical student and then a doctor were a fun distraction from doing actual work, however people seemed to like them and so I kept drawing, and decided to put them on here, and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/unicyclemedic/, just for a bit of fun!
While working as a first year doctor I became particularly interested in two very different fields of medicine – orthopaedic surgery, and functional/lifestyle medicine. I know – not exactly a ‘classic’ combination – and as you can imagine when I started asking around for advice from a few big names in the world of functional medicine, the response was one of…
“No-one has really… done that yet”
Yet. Well there’s got to be a first person do everything, and so I thought I’d get cracking on trying to combine these two fields of medicine that capture my attention more than any others. I love the practical, hands-on approach of orthopaedics, and the satisfaction of actually fixing something back to how it should be, rather than tweaking medications or surgically removing bits you hope the patient doesn’t need. I also enjoy the holistic nature of functional medicine, and truly believe it holds a lot of answers that we simply haven’t found yet.
For those for whom the term ‘Functional Medicine’ is new, I’ll give a very brief synopsis. It’s labelled as an ‘alternative’ medicine, and many pass it off as ‘pseudo-science’ and I can understand why, as it has often been used as a mule to sell a lot of expensive and often ineffective supplements and training programmes, however I’m a bit of an optimist and find the premise fascinating enough to at least give it a chance before jumping on the bandwagon and dismissing it altogether. The idea is that the cataclysmic shift in demand on modern healthcare systems from acute disease that plagued our ancestors, such as infections and trauma, to chronic problems such as heart disease, diabetes and dementia requires a new approach to deciding what constitutes ‘disease’, and how we should deal with it.
Modern medicine is based on a model of diagnosing a condition, and finding a treatment to deal with it – something that has worked very effectively for a long time with acute conditions, particularly with infections and antibiotics – however chronic disease is a different beast altogether, often built on very long-term foundations of nutritional and lifestyle habits that have left the body fighting an uphill battle that doesn’t present as a problem until later on. By the time someone presents to a healthcare professional, the damage has been going on for a long time, and there simply isn’t a pill to undo it all. There is no bug to fight or broken bone to fix, rather there is an issue with the way a person’s environment (food, exercise, exposure, work) interacts with their genetic predisposition to things such as high blood pressure, insulin resistance and even neurodegenerative processes such as those seen in dementia.
The way to fix the problem is to identify how their environment is interacting with their genetics to cause these problems, and tailor their lifestyle (diet, exercise, mental health, work, environmental exposure) to try and reverse the process.
Hey, I didn’t say it would be easy…
So, long story short, I’m now using this blog to document my journey through figuring out how to combine my love of orthopaedics with the new-found interest in functional medicine to create a perfect balance of acute and chronic healthcare from which hopefully, everyone can benefit!
Wish me luck,