Why I Became a Naturopathic Doctor

 In Naturopathic News

Katie Strobe, N.D.

Night after night, I would stare blankly at my medical school application personal essay. I kept reflecting on my life story and  I wanted to become an allopathic doctor, and something just didn’t click. I was stuck. After endless contemplation, it finally hit me. There’s no way I could write this essay because I knew in my heart. I didn’t want to become this type of doctor.

Leading up to this moment, I’d checked off all the boxes for someone wanting to become a medical doctor studied hard, received incredible grades, and earned my Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington. I got medical experience working as a veterinary assistant, hundreds of hours as a hospice volunteer, and worked in an immunology research lab. I was a published research author and had successfully completed the MCAT In short, I was the perfect candidate. I had diligently followed the correct path, and my whole life was leading up to this moment. And yet, while it was clear to me that I had to “abort the mission”, my relief was quickly replaced with the panic and the conundrum of: “Well fuck, what do I do now?”

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise I won’t bore you”- David Bowie

Closing the door on that medical doctor pathway, left me with time to pursue what I loved. I made the decision to focus on the research job that I adored, and to join a roller derby league — called the “Rat City Roller Girls”. During the day, I furthered the development of “microarray technology” to ultimately provide a predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory model of medical care (P4 Medicine by Dr. Leroy Hood). It felt exciting to be on the brink of discovery, and the end goal was something I truly believed in.

My evenings were spent at a local roller rink, where a group of strong women from all backgrounds had come together to form a roller derby league — and what would soon be an international resurgence of the sport from the 60s, 70s, and 80s.  I skated under the alias “Strobe Lightning” and yes, I painted the David Bowie style lightning bolt on my face. I felt on top of the world!

Unfortunately, this high came to a complete halt with some unexpected news. My brother died and the loss ripped my heart apart; life just didn’t quite feel the same again. A few weeks after his death, I found myself wishing a random event might take my life. This was not like me, and I quickly realized I needed support. Thankfully, I found an amazing talk therapist to help me process my emotions. During this time, I pushed myself to continue with nightly derby practice. The fast skating, tight-knit community, and supportive therapy saved me. Slowly but surely, I started rebuilding.

A year later, my world came crashing down again when my dad was lethally shot. It was simply a cruel twist of events and I felt immense grief, processing the unfair nature of his death. A few days after his memorial, Iit felt like my nervous system exploded. I spent 6 hours shaking, pacing, and stuttering before ending up in the emergency room. It was all just too much for me.

I was told I was having a panic attack and was immediately given an injection of Ativan. It was a lifesaver in that acute moment, and I naively thought this was going to be a one-time event. After a few more trips to the ER for the same symptoms, I was eventually given a prescription for oral Ativan. I didn’t like taking it, but it seemed like the only effective solution.  I tried my best to continue with work and derby, but the panic attacks persisted, and to my horror, my hair started falling out in clumps.

Knowing how much I was struggling, a close friend suggested I see her primary care physician, who happened to be a naturopathic doctor. My appointment was unlike any other medical visit I had ever experienced. This doctor gave me the time and space to tell my full story, showed true empathy, did a full physical exam, ordered bloodwork, and gave me a personalized treatment plan complete with an array of holistic tools. I was profoundly impressed by this doctor’s thorough approach, attention to detail and knowledge of nutrients and herbs. Soon after, the panic attacks and anxiety became less frequent and less intense.

After this appointment, I had this newfound awareness where I started seeing things relating to naturopathy everywhere. I met naturopathic doctoral students in different social circles, learned about Bastyr University, and became roommates and best friends with a daughter of a naturopathic doctor (Dr. Walter Crinnion). All of this sparked the research nerd in me to come alive. I learned all about how a naturopathic doctor practices, the unique benefits and the pathway to becoming one.

When I learned about the core principles of naturopathic medicine, it all came together for me. I knew in my heart this was the type of doctor that I wanted to become. Three of the philosophies that stood out to me were:

  • The Healing Power of Nature (Vis medicatrix naturae)- improving health by assisting the body’s own innate capacity to heal itself and in using the surrounding plants and elements.
  • Identify and Treat the Cause (Tolle Causum)- identifying, addressing, and removing the underlying cause of symptoms.
  • Treat the Whole Person (Tolle totum)- addressing lifestyle, mental, emotional, physical genetic, environmental and socioeconomic factors.  

 Being a Naturopathic Doctor is an amazing career, I love what I do and the difference that naturopathic medicine has made in my patients’ lives. This career has allowed me to treat patients using a model that is patient centric, preventive and personalized. I love being able to integrate the best of modern medical research and diagnostics, alongside other modalities that have stood the test of time such as diet, lifestyle factors, and natural therapies.

 Naturopathic medicine has armed me with an arsenal of tools to help me manage my anxiety symptoms should they arise: taking deep breaths, going for a walk, getting into nature, exercising, and listening to music. I ensure that I eat sufficient protein, keep my blood sugar in check, utilize herbs, and give myself a B12 vitamin injection. I’m also mindful to stay connected with my support network, reach out to good friends and being aware of negative emotions, but don’t dwell on them unnecessarily.

Bio

Dr. Strobe’s healing philosophy focuses on identifying and treating root causes of disease. She integrates the best of modern medical research & diagnostics with modalities that have stood the test of time such as diet, lifestyle factors and natural therapies. Dr. Strobe listens to you, addresses your concerns and creates a treatment plan that is unique to you. Her specialties include: digestive support, hormone balancing, mental & emotional wellness and skin health.

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