Dr. Sarah Jang, OD, Hamilton.
Three years ago I came to a crossroad in life, particularly with regards to my career. I began to think ‘is this it?’
I began to ask myself questions about how I viewed my life and my career as an Optometrist. When I began to look closer, although I had convinced myself that I loved Optometry; when I looked deeper I realized that I would wake up each morning dreading to go into work. When I delved in further I would begin having flashbacks of my childhood, watching my parents wake up every morning, drive into work, put in countless hours at the family convenience store, return home, eat, and sleep; only to repeat the same routine the next day. I was working in a different career than my parents, but I was still acting out the same learned routine. Although I promised myself that I would never choose to live that way, that is, live to work, as opposed to working to live; I unconsciously fell into the same trap.
When I started looking back at my career in Optometry, I realized that it was just like working on an assembly line, but instead of constant parts coming in to be examined and placed on the correct piece; my patients were the parts coming down the line through my office to be examined and repaired with a new part to take with them. I was doing the exact same thing over and over; same motions, exact same routine, exact same spiel, and exact same thoughts with very little change; I was literally a zombie. Although my patients were getting the care they needed and the help that they came in for; and it did make me feel good, it still did not make me feel any great reward, and I would often leave work feeling unfulfilled, that I could have done more, and that I had more to offer.
I realized that I had slowly and gradually begun to lose my love for Optometry. I no longer had the same energy I had immediately upon graduation, when I felt on top of the world and that I was going to change lives, that I would be making a huge difference in the lives of people that came in to see me. The fire was fading, if not already gone.
Now don’t get me wrong, throughout my career there have been many experiences and situations where I made my patients extremely happy and satisfied with the service I provided them, but still, I always felt like there was something missing. I couldn’t quite figure out or put my finger on what it was, but I realized if I didn’t find out what was missing, that my Optometry career would be nothing more than a means of income as opposed to a fulfilling career, once again, living to work and not working to live.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of being introduced to chiropractic and before meeting the chiropractor my knowledge of the profession was that they helped with back pain by ‘cracking’ spines. I was surprised to learn that I was wrong. Although my primary reason for visiting the chiropractor was for discomfort, what I learned from the chiropractor impacted my career in a profound way. You see, they talked directly to me and treated me as a whole person and not just treating my ‘pain’, delving into my lifestyle, stress, sleep patterns, family relationships, physical activities, emotional state, diet, etc. We covered much more than just back pain. When I left the office, I realized that I felt different; it wasn’t just my shoulder and neck pain, because although they felt better, the pain was still there. But overall, I felt energized and inspired; over the next few days to weeks I began to take action and implement changes that would improve my overall health. I felt like it was possible for me to create positive change in my life, and that’s when the ‘light-bulb’ went on. I went to the chiropractor for pain, but I left with a different outlook on life that lasted for days to weeks. It allowed me to look at my diet, sleep, posture, exercise, computer time, and other lifestyle factors that were impacting my overall life allowing the pain to present itself. So as a Doctor who is in charge of someone’s health, why was I just treating ‘vision’?
So I began to implement the same model in my Optometry practice and what I saw was nothing short of amazing; I began to see a dramatic shift in my interactions with my patients and the experiences my patients had during a routine eye exam. This shift allowed me to realize that I loved my patients. I actually rekindled my love for evaluating and examining their eyes, but what changed was that I was now also contributing to creating a positive impact in their overall health and lives as well.
What was previously missing was a true connection with my patients; an increased transparency in my doctor patient relationship which I began to foster. However I remained frustrated because I realized that Optometry is a reactive care model, not a preventative model, in fact we often don’t even treat the conditions we diagnose, and then we refer them out. Therefore, a patient’s perspective of an Optometrist is someone who can administer a general eye examination and dispense spectacles. Although I am a doctor, I lacked the tools in my belt to assist my patients with their healthcare concerns.
I began to enroll in personal development and coaching courses including the Landmark Forum and began to meditate and perform Yoga and as I began to feel the positive changes in my life I began to coach my patients during their routine eye examinations with their stress and emotional health, and the impact it was having was huge.
I began to educate myself on diet and lifestyle and began implementing that into my conversations with my patients, and once again, the impact it was having was huge. I began to understand was that I was making changes to the switches that turn genes on and off, I was affecting their epi-genetics.
So I began to study alternative healing and therapies, eastern medicine, etc. I watched a series of documentaries including one’s by Ty Bolinger; the documentaries had many experts from MD’s to naturopaths, but the individual that really caught my attention was Dr. Rajendran, a homeopath and nanomedicine researcher, who revealed the myths surrounding homeopathy. His explanation on how homeopathy works, and how it can act as an epigenetic switch in the body has drawn my interest and I yelled out that “This is it!!!”. This is the answer to what’s been missing, my journey to find the true cause or the root of the issue, that is, the cause of my patient’s condition and providing treatment alternatives to the current western medical model with mind-body healing, homeopathic medicine, preventive care, and treatment.
I began to have a conversation with my patients about the various epi-genetic switches in their lives including lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress, sleep, and other aspects of their life that can affect their eye health and how it was also affecting their overall health and I would help by implementing strategies to assist them. This was an atypical experience for most my patients and often I would be told that I took more time and cared more for them in that single eye examination than they would normally receive at their physicians’ office; and that they learned more about themselves and their health.
I finally knew how I was going to get off that assembly line to get out of my zombie state at work. I now understand that for me to help my patients that I need to have a better understanding of how this physical and emotional machine work. There were still some things that were missing, that would allow me to integrate both my optometric background and health coaching. I needed to investigate and figure out what was the true or real root cause of their condition; this has become my new love and passion and this has lead me to a journey to discover alternative healing modalities including iridology and homeopathy.
The old me would say, “I’m never going back to school” and I always thought ‘how can anyone even think about going back to school after working for many years and having a family.’ I know now why they did, and I am extremely excited to begin my journey; to learn what I choose to learn and to chase what I truly want as opposed to what I would normally do which is to play it safe and do what I thought everyone else would want me to do. It has been a long journey of discovery to get to this place and to find the answers to what I truly want and I am grateful that I am here today, starting a new chapter of my life at CCHM.