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Interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz-Prevention and Change-Living it and Loving it!Nov 10, 2008 17:50 EST
My sister- in -law Lori Walton saved me a seat in Louisiana Ballroom C at 12:30 so I might get to hear Dr. Mehmet Oz speak. Though, I'm tempted to say "yes, THE doctor OZ of Oprah fame", more importantly, I should say "yes, THE doctor Oz, a blueberry eating, yoga practicing, full-time cardiothoracic surgeon and author of hundreds of publications who holds multiple patents and has been haled as a "healer of the Millenium". After I got to kiss my husband and my daughter good bye who are leaving me to fly back to Kentucky, I dashed in for a listen.
From his first word, he draws in his audience, speaking to them "like you would at a cocktail party" because we should behave as if we know that everything we say is important. His first slide shows us that he identifies with our manic days and hectic schedules. It's a toilet that he calls "his office", a joke, but we get it. On either side of the commode are shelves lined with stress producing icons of productivity such as fax machines, keyboards, computer screens and a telephone. He then shows slides of great advancements in medicine that have occurred during his practice life.....LVAD's, catheter- based valve replacement and robotics. But obviously, these things weren't enough for him. He said he felt that " instead of driving change", he was "a cog stuck in the wheel of change".
And change he did. He found Dr. Mike Roizen, an internist with a background in anesthesiology and co-authored the "You" book series. Their first and second became instant best sellers. They couched medical terms in analogies that the lay- public can easily understand by describing illness as the "crime", the symptoms as "the witness", the doctor as the "detective", and the medical tests as the "interrogation". He then pointed out that "America has never gotten the message because we have never given it to them". He shows a picture of a man with all of his weight thrown into PUSHingon a closed door with the HUGE sign on it that says "PULL". Our patients are pushing with bad information when they should be pulling,, he indicated. He then insists that the "secret" is NOT about rationale, it's about emotion. "90% of all change is about emotion" he said.
"Ok, you have our attention, we're listening. Tell us more," I thought.
"We have to make health fun" and "we must be transformational. We have to engage factually and we must make it news- you -can- use". "Telling a patient that smoking is bad is meaningless. It turns on the insulata. We are just (subconsciously) telling them to smoke more! (the crowd laughs) What we must say to them is "all I want you to do is to care about yourself as much as I care about you". He shows his patients live animations that would make even Walt Disney envious. There is a cartoon of a placque building and rupturing and he mentions Tim Russert's name because we can all identify with the tragedy of his untimely death. More importantly, the message is that WE DO NOT WANT TO BE Tim Russert. He uses his example that people want to "test themselves into safety", but insists "you have to LIVE safety". There is another animation of an African Cheetah chasing a poor Roebuck running for its life, then out of nowhere a man runs past the Cheetah, grabs the Roebuck and disappears. The audience gasps because it's so unexpected.
We now believe we can be that man because we have sat in a lecture with one of the greatest motivators in medical history, but more importantly, he is an innovator who can marry a message with action.
Then he shows a slide of Michael Angelo's David. He is standing there, stately, proudly, his oversized left hand dangling at his side, but 50 pounds overweight and completely oblivous to the paunch that hangs from his waist. The message here is that we have become complacent and worse than that, we are in denial. The audience identifies with a nervous snicker as the slides advance. "We must understand the biology of blubber" he says as he displays the outline of a bulging waist with intestines covered with a large abdominal fat pad. He explains the "secret" that I discovered a few years ago when I attended a lecture by Dr. Gabrielle Stegg. The "secret" kept from both patient and many physicians is that this fat pad is an organ in and of itself, ........an organ that produces deadly hormones and transmitters that make us diabetic, hypertensive and changes our lipid profile. He gives us practical advice like "your waist should be less than 1/2 your height" and "in order to avoid sleep apnea, your neck should be less than 17 inches as a male and less than 16 inches as a female. " Measure your waist at your belly button, pull it tight because you know you are going to suck it in". He then steps out from around the podium and pulls his belt down below his own belly button and says "men never buy a new belt, they just merely pull it down". The women sitting next to me laughed out loud and said "that's exactly right".
Practical points were then given about what we should eat including "fiber for breakfast, nuts 30 minutes before breakfast and whole grains". If we eat nuts 30 minutes before breakfast, we'll be less hungry and the omega three's are good for us. He then displayed another astounding animation which morphed his likeness over the next few years demonstrating what he would look like if he follows healthy habits and disturbingly, what he projects his appearance to be after following unhealthy habits. The healthy morph yielded less belly fat and a more upright posture. It was definitely thought provoking.
He next points out that "if we can't walk a mile in 5 minutes, we are 3 x more likely to die", a sad end for so many of our young people today. Adding to his armamentarium of practical advice, He wants us to get plenty of sleep because it increases the amount of" youth preserving" growth hormone needed and asks us to use his "sleep kit" which consists of "dimming the lights, wearing loose clothing, reducing noise, cooling the room to 67 degrees and investing in a mattress. (Hope my tempurpedic will do). He then says that "success is forgetting you are on a program". It takes 2 weeks to place yourself on "autopilot" and directs us to behave like a GPS system that doesn't ever shut down after a mistake, but rather just redirects the next move. "You can't get rid of bad habits, you must replace them" he offers.
He doesn't just give us advice to give to our patients, he give us advice on how to be better physicians too. "Patients first, advance the body of knowledge, police each other, and engage in our Civic responsiblity to speak up". "Bring value back to the US Health care system" he says. Easier said than done, but he's advocating both saying it and doing it and unless we are engaging in either, we have no room to complain about the way things are going.
In my one- on -one interview with him, I asked him to describe his day, a living testament that he practices what he preaches. He arises at 5:45 am, does 7 minutes of yoga, showers and drives to work at 6:20 am. He rounds, eats a high fiber cereal with blueberries, goes to the OR, eats a lunch of salmon or nuts, goes back to the OR, does adminstrative work, eats with his wife and kids around 8 pm something lite, like rice and broccoli ("my wife is vegan but it tastes really good" he said), then he works out for 40 minutes. He doesn't take statins and might drink one glass of red wine per week. "Oh yeah, and I take a multivitamin". "But didn't you see the study yester.......", I started. "Yeah I did" he said with a frown.
Finally, he encourages us to drive change into our own neighborhoods by joining HEALTHCORP. (Think job corp he says). "Use college kids who listen to the same music and are of the same culture as our high school kids to teach them about their bodies and about health. They will make what has previously been thought of as uncool.......cool. " He pointed out that this practice would be "both good policy and good politics" because "it's cheap and it works". Already, 7 states are engaging in this program.
Along those lines, in my private interview time with him I asked "What would you tell me to say to our own Glasgow , Ky. city council who just could not bring themselves to vote on the side of protecting our public from second hand smoke?". "How many total (council people) do you have?" he asked. "12" I answered, "but some of them are new. At least if we can get it to a tie, maybe our mayor will have the courage to stand up for protection", I said. "Tell them it's not about hating the smoker, it's about loving the smoker. It's about protecting the workers in the bars and the restaurants. When Michael Bloomberg asked me to help him with the ban, I was all for it because for every 4 cigarettes smoked in our environment, we are smoking one. I was so worried about the workers. Now it's no longer a big deal, they just take it outside." See, he really does dream of better health for America and he drives change. You must dream it before you can do it," I thought.
At the end of his public presentation, he invited us to check out his newest book "You, being Beautiful".
Ok, Dr. Oz......now that we've listened to you, we have even more courage to try.....being beautiful, both as patient and physician that is.