So what's with the new logo eh? And why have I taken so long away from my blog eh? OK, I'll tell you.
As a physician, initially emergency medicine but now general internal medicine, I have had probably thousands of patients over the years with anxiety and depression. Sometimes they wanted no intervention at all. Sometimes they wanted to see a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist and often they started on medication. Every case has been different.
Over the past 3-4 years, I have been regularly recommending meditation (that's mediTation, not mediCation) for my patients. Something simple, like downloading an app, such as Calm or HeadSpace and doing a 10-minute guided meditation just once a day. I even started it myself in the summer of 2015.
It was really intended for those people who had what's probably called 'normal stress', such as dealing with work or noisy kids and all the associated stressors. These people typically didn't want to start any kind of medication and were a bit stigmatized with the idea of visiting a psychotherapist or consulting a psychiatrist.
I have been constantly impressed with how a simple 10-minute guided meditation has not only helped my patients with mild anxiety and/or depression, but pretty severe cases of those diagnoses as well.
Not only that, I've also been happy to observe that meditation seems to help with other things too: hypertension, migraines, insomnia, even diabetes! So naturally, I've been routinely recommending it to almost all my patients. Maybe because I don't look like a hippie, just a regular doc in a white coat with a stethoscope, I get the feeling that a lot of my patients 'give it a go' and download the app and actually do a meditation. This results in them being converted quite quickly, often to their surprise. Indeed, many of my patients have been able to come off medication altogether, and not just anxiolytics and antidepressants. I've been able to stop antihypertensives, migraine meds, insomnia meds and even diabetic meds.
Now as we all know, and I'm generalizing here of course, women are a bit more enlightened about the benefits of meditation, yoga and mindfulness-related activities. Men, not so much.
So I wrote a book. Not a very good book, but it was cathartic nevertheless as many authors have experienced and it definitely got a lot of crap off my mind and into the printed word. The book was called UPWavers and it's on Amazon if you want it, but I don't recommend you get it unless you want yet another cure for insomnia. It's also on audible.
But I digress.
So in the spring of 2017 I started hosting mindfulness sessions for groups of patients. I didn't even charge for them, because it was so fulfilling for me to see the benefits of my patients being able to 'awaken' to themselves. To at least get a glimpse of their consciousness and to become more aware of the universe around them.
Then I had an epiphany. Nobody in the world seems to be able to cater to 'men and meditation'. Yoga and Mindfulness and all that jazz seems to have such an effeminate feeling about them that many educated and 'tough' men, who don't want to lose their 'manly image' wouldn't be seen dead meditating. What if, I thought.... what if I could make meditation fun. Maybe make it more appealing to men, but not less appealing to women.
I think I was at Disneyworld when it came to me. Lots of men would proudly admit to being Star Wars fans I thought to myself. Star Wars has Jedi, who wear robes, take vows of celibacy and are strictly vegetarian (or may I just made that last one up). Do Jedi meditate? Of course they do! Everyone knows that. Even Yoda talks about meditating in the movies.
What if, I thought.... what if I could make a 'mindfulness suite', called The Jedi Temple, where men (and women of course) could come along and have a group guided meditation? What if I could get yoga instructors, acupuncturists and meditation guides to come along and give them a 1-hour session? What if we could make this entire thing part of a wellness retreat, where people could even stay if they wanted? And yes, of course they'd be paying for all this, but I bet they'd want to. I mean, nobody else seems to be offering this kind of thing!
Indeed, if we made it mindfulness-enough, they wouldn't even need to take a class - they could just stay there and go catch a baseball or hockey game and then be together. Being together with others is also great for one's health. In fact, that's one reason I invented The DEN but that's another story altogether. So whether they're with friends, fellow alumni, family, fellow sports team members or fellow convention attendees, I figured this could be a wonderfully positive experience.
Fast forward to now and not only do we have The Jedi Temple, we also have Hogwarts Dorms, The DUGOUT (baseball themed space), DowntoWn Abbey, 221B and we're soon opening a golf-themed space. These suites are fully booked almost every weekend and they've been just awesome. The women of course, being so much more enlightened anyway, just go along with the whole thing and love the fact that it's not just another 'all woman retreat', but a thing they could bring their husband/boyfriend/dad along to, without him kicking and screaming. It was just a great thing all round! I was right.
Who knew Downtown Saint Louis could compete with Australia, California and Central America as a destination for a wellness retreat. Midwest employers love us because they can send 20 people to St. Louis, instead of on flights to San Diego - can you see the immediate savings that reduce stress?
Anyway, these suites are now an integral part of Downtown Health & Wellness. We still have traditional medicine, but unlike most facilities, we also focus on prevention.
Downtown Health is the traditional 'medical side' - the urgent care (Downtown, North City and Creve Coeur), the primary care (Downtown Medical), the work comp and the telemedicine (ContactADoc).
Downtown Wellness is the foo foo 'prevention side' - where you can do yoga, meditation, or just hang out with friends in a calm and relaxing atmosphere in a very interesting group travel suite. Many groups come for a 'business meeting' and don't even stay the night. Many teams do want to stay 1 or 2 nights. We're even hoping to somehow incorporate escape rooms and mystery dinners into these suites - can you tell how proud I am of what we've done?
I'm just writing today's blog piece because I feel like I've discovered a new side to being a doctor - and I LOVE IT. Once you've been an ER doc for years, Internal Medicine can feel so bland. I know that's not a very marketable thing for an internist to say, but I care more about truth than I do about optics - if you've watched me get sued for speaking my mind, you know this! Finally, I've made Internal Medicine and the honor of preventing illness a far more interesting challenge than just writing prescriptions and telling people to eat more fiber!
Anyway, if you want to know more, just drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or go and check out the website (DowntownHealthAndWellness.com aka dhwstl.com)