One of my favorite aspects of about the technological advances in medicine is that we have access to greater diagnostics than ever before. We have ways to detect, track, and analyze problems in our body early and with more accuracy.
However, you need to realize that certain results can be scary and even misleading if you don’t understand them.
The relationship between you and the patient and the medical community at large is not something to be taken for granted. When people hear my story of overcoming Crohn’s, many assume that I dislike doctors, as if taking charge of my own health meant that I had to part ways with doctors for good. It really doesn’t work that way and unfortunately that kind of close minded thinking is often times what leads people down the path to chronic illness and keeps them their indefinitely.
The most important thing when dealing with any health crisis, even an acute one, is to remember that ultimately you are responsible for your own health. Laws that are designed to protect us from ourselves such as seatbelt laws, or taxes on sugary drinks, only work if we participate in the experience rather than just going along for the ride until our ride breaks down.
We are fortunate to have access to so many advisors in various fields as well as a number of tools to determine our best course of action but in the end it’s up to us as patients, nay, as health advocates, to put it all together. There are several methods for testing various aspects of your health right from the comfort of your own home.
You have to accept going in that the results may confuse you and if that happens you won’t panic but rather will have an informed conversation with a health professional who is equally open to discourse.
1. Romberg’s Test - Stand up straight and close your eyes for about a minute. Did you feel like you were starting to sway from side to side or spin around in a circle? Or did you feel completely balanced and calm. The swaying feeling could be a very early sign of something being a little off with your proprioceptive nervous system but unless you have other symptoms it’s most likely not a problem.
2. Nose and Heel Test - If you want a very basic test of neurodegenerative disease close both eyes and starting with your arm fully extended try and touch your nose with your index finger, then again with the other. Next lie down flat and run one heal up and down the opposite shin, then switch. If you can do this with no problem that’s great. If it takes a couple tries to get it right, that’s probably ok too but if you really can’t accomplish these tasks - and you aren’t intoxicated - then you may want to give the next test a try.
3. Tapping Test - This is a basic measure of the health of your nervous system. There’s a very simple iPhone app that can let you try this out. Basically you have a certain amount of time to tap the screen with your finger as many times as possible. Sounds weird right? Well it’s apparently a pretty accurate indicator of how taxed your nervous system is. The cool thing is that you can perform this multiple times per day if you want to see how your exercise regimen, or general stresses of daily life affect your bodies ability to cope. If you do this kind of testing and tracking on yourself over the course of days, weeks, or even months, you’ll have a really good baseline for knowing if something really is going wrong.
4. Alkalinity Test - When we eat more dark leafy greens it tends to help sway our bodies towards the slightly alkaline side of the pH scale is good for protecting the various systems of the body and ensuring various pathways function smoothly. If you want to find out how alkaline you are there is a simple test you can do using your urine, and a red cabbage. Take a head of red cabbage and put it in a blender with a some water. Blend it up until the water turns the same purple color as the lettuce and then remove any bits of vegetables as you pour that water into your toilet. Now answer the call of nature and pee in the bowl. If the water turns a pinkish color then your urine is highly acidic and you may want to look at your diet. However if the water turns blue then you are heading in the right direction and your urine is either neutral or starting to become more alkaline.
The information you get from these various tests should be informative at the very least and may help you catch a bigger problem before it even becomes a real concern. You can of course do actual blood tests at home or using mail in cards where labs will process the results and I certainly do but again, the higher the level of the testing, the more opportunity for misinterpretation. To be clear, I encourage you to test everything you possibly can, but I also want you to be as informed as possible so please, do your homework before drawing your own blood and sending it off to a lab.