Big News

Sep 07, 2022
Eleanor Stein, MD FRCP(C)
Big News
10:16
 

I am the type of person who likes change and novelty. I have lived in different countries and provinces and reinvented myself more than once. I thrive on challenges and learning. And yet, I have been working at my medical practice in Calgary since 2000, the longest time I have spent at one activity in my life. Why? My practice brings me a lot of rewards, most of all the relationships I have been fortunate enough to have forged with each of you. Receiving emails letting me know you are getting your lives back, mentally and physically, in small part due to my contribution to your journey is very rewarding.

In late 2019 I developed the idea of creating online education so that people who live outside Calgary, Alberta and Canada and who don’t have access to guidance about ME/CFS, FM, ES, Long COVID and chronic pain could benefit. My online business has been a steep learning curve – learning about websites, developing curriculum, creating educational videos, and venturing into social media (though I have people to post for me). It too has been rewarding. Recently, someone shared that the Pathways to Improvement course was the most useful information she had encountered in 30 years of illness. This feedback makes the considerable effort feel worthwhile.

Despite the rewards, I have observed that running a medical practice and online business as well as participating in two research teams is proving too much. My body is telling me this pace is not sustainable. And like all of you, I want to live the most vibrant, joyful and meaningful life possible for as long as possible. This requires optimal health.

In August I took some time off for a nature road trip, something I love but haven’t been able to do for several years for various reasons. During my time away, I experienced the ability to decide what to do in each moment, where to go, what sites to see, where to stay each night. I lived in the moment. Eckhart Tolle talks about how travelling to new places and doing new things pushes people into the moment. Being in nature, being spontaneous and having time to BE helps me sleep better and according to my Oura ring, my heart rate variability scores reached a new high while I was away. My body is telling me that have a more adventurous, carefree life suits it.

As of this July, I have been in medical practice for 35 years. It is a relentless profession in which the work is never done and in which the requirements for ongoing learning and high administrative standards continue to increase. Medicine teaches you to put others before yourself and not to look after your basic needs. Despite my awareness of this from the earliest days of medical school, and my efforts to mitigate by working part time most of my career, it has taken a toll.

I have reflected while away that in 2023 I turn 60. Who knows how much time I have left. None of us do. Like each of you, I want my remaining time to be as good quality as possible. For me this means having time and space to be spontaneous, not to have every minute scheduled and spoken for. I cannot achieve this without letting go of some of the work activities that I love and value. So, what to give up, my medical practice, my research and/or my online business?

I have always been reluctant to give up my practice because it is a way of paying back all the privileges I have been afforded including a medical school education paid for largely by the state (scholarships etc.). My medical practice has been my identity and my security; it pays the bills. I am able to help people and feel valued. How could I possibly give it up?

In making life decisions, Joe Dispenza talks about the importance of having the courage and faith to jump off the near bank of a fast moving river before you know whether you will make it to the other side. For me, this metaphor refers to the risk of giving up my medical practice and focusing on my online business, even though I don’t know whether this will be sustainable or will achieve the impact I hope for it. I have been educating myself and am under no illusion how difficult it is to build a successful (read sustainable) online business.

You might be wondering why would I choose the online business over my medical practice, the risky choice over the safe choice? Because the online business has the capacity to reach many more people, wider afield than my medical practice. Because there are people suffering with ME/CFS, FM, ES, long COVID and chronic pain all over the world and there are very few comprehensive programs to help them improve their health.

And, from a personal perspective, because my online business allows me more flexibility to travel and work from the new van I have purchased to replace the trusty VW. I hope to be able to combine my passion to learn and help others and my passion for travel in the beauty of nature (and with heat and running water, untold luxuries).

So, after considerable thought, I have made some decisions.

I will close my medical practice including the ETeam and will resign my position in ICanCME research team by the end of December.

I will not be working at all in Jan/Feb, 2023. I have planned a many times delayed trip of a lifetime to the Antarctic.

When I come back, in late Feb, I will continue to run and build my online business. One way of doing this is to partner with other like-minded professionals who offer complementary services. If you know of other health care professionals who would be a great fit, please introduce us.

If you are a current patient of my medical practice, you may be shocked and upset by this news. You will receive a letter advising you when your groups will finish. We will use at least one of your remaining groups to discuss options to help you transition. For example,

  • I could offer a biweekly zoom drop-in for current patients as a transitional support.
  • You, yourselves could create ongoing support groups.
  • You could join my FB community forum and seek like-minded people to create an interest or study group.
  • You could join my new Pathways to Improvement and Healing Through Neuroplasticity online self-study courses. Both of these have a community discussion where you can connect with other participants.
  • You could join the new mentor-led study groups for one or both courses.
  • I will be offering a series of advanced live sessions for each course in the new year.
  • Subscribe to my newsletter so you are always in the know about new research and education opportunities.

Some of you are just beginning your journey towards wellness and will wonder if you can achieve your goals without me. I believe you can. There are ever increasing resources available including the resources I am creating.

Thank you in advance for your understanding. My connection with each of you and the feedback and encouragement you have provided over the years has been meaningful to me and much appreciated. Please stay connected and share the resources you are finding to help you on your journey so I can share your experiences with others.

Ellie Stein