Mike Nichols, M.D.
Almost from the inception of my practice, I could see that medicine was failing for many people. Surely this wasn’t what it meant to be a doctor, to be a healer. There were so many people with heart disease, cancer, and diabetes and modern medicine was not curing them; in my mind worse,it was making no attempt to prevent these diseases . At best it was only prolonging the disease, and sometimes not even that. Surely this could not be what it was all about. I am not talking about the extreme or end stage cases, modern medicine didn’t seem to have a rational or coherent approach to disease in general.
This conviction led me to a multi-year quest to figure out what was wrong. It was not the practitioners. They meant well. Modern medicine itself was flawed. It was failing to address the many problems inflicted by our modern civilization. Perception had been replaced by prescription. Patient-doctor interaction and understanding by ‘standard-practice’.
I dove again into the fundamental science and clinical literature trying to understand how to apply my ‘vision’ of medicine to the clinical practice of a day-to-day doc. Basic ideas began to form. Overlooked details became important. For instance, I met a stroke rehab specialist who had noticed that cycling with a ‘push’ stroke resulted in much more improvement than a ‘pull’ stroke, and this planted the idea that concentric exercise was important. When I recommended these sorts of exercises to my patients, they got much better results too. Eventually the medical literature confirmed that the body enables healing and muscle building processes when it gets concentric exercise signals, but it doesn’t for the other sorts of exercise.
Ultimately this quest culminated in a seemingly simplistic point of view, but one with far reaching implications: The body wants to heal, and will if it can. Somehow it was being prevented from doing so. So the next steps were fairly obvious: 1) Could this be measured?, and 2) Could this be modified?
Then the next piece fell into place: apparently I am a geek by nature because my practice largely attracted Silicon Valley executives and engineers. They would come in with spreadsheets of their workouts, their meal plans, and their blood pressure at different times of the day. Bingo! I had made money as an undergraduate writing machine language programs for scientific applications; one was a program to convert the analog signal of EEG’s to digital data. My background and my patients spreadsheets caused me to start “The Performance and Prevention Clinic” in the early 90’s and this eventually became the Tempus Clinic which was a much larger enterprise. Thus began my work developing a software display environment for medical information that could serve as a display and learning tool for both me and my patients to be able to see trends and interconnected variables associated with behavioral changes.
The synthesis of my patient’s and their spreadsheets, my background in programming, my dissatisfaction with the modern practice of medicine and my own curiosity-directed ‘medical school’ led straight to Quantitative Medicine. From the nineties onward, I practiced medicine with this point of view, and the results vastly exceeded my expectations: everyone began getting well! Heart disease and adult onset diabetes were getting reversed, even cured. Almost the entire medical profession was insistent that all this was not even possible, yet here it was happening, right before my eyes.
My practice continues today, and my experience with Quantitative Medicine has now encompassed over 2000 people. Every single one of them improved, most markedly. What each person needs to do to attain peak health can vary considerably. Sometimes it is diet modification, sometimes exercise, sometimes dealing with stress and mindfulness, and sometimes even pills. It is different for everybody, but appropriate measurement teases out everyone’s personal formula. Anyone can achieve it. This blog is intended to show how. Measure it. Change it
I received my education from the University of Chicago, Loyola University of Chicago and Stanford. While I have an MD from Loyola and my residency was done at Stanford, I have to credit my pre-med training at the University of Chicago for the courage and doggedness to pursue a different way of thinking about problems.
Charles Davis, PhD
At some point in the eighties, I noticed that somehow Dr. Mike’s brand of medicine worked better. I had no idea why. He had information and points of view that no other doctor seemed to have. Based on seemingly little information, he could construct diagnoses that were surprisingly insightful, (and invariably correct). I broke my foot. From the x-ray he could tell I was a jogger, that I broke it jogging, and how. He said the break would mend in half the time if I didn’t wear a cast, and did I want to try that? Huh? Apparently some limited movement speeds the healing process. This practice is common now, but he knew it 25 years ago. This became a pattern. Where other doctors treated specifics, Dr. Mike connected the dots. The reasons were always clearer and the cures always quicker when Mike was involved.
In 2000, we had a baby girl. I was 55, gaining weight in spite of various diets and exercise. I had back problems, I was aging. I wondered if I was going to drop dead before that baby girl was in high school. I needed answers, but I didn’t even know the questions. My immediate thought was that if anyone could figure this out, it would be Dr. Mike. Off I went. “Mike, please measure everything. Don’t worry about insurance. I want the full picture and want to know how to rescue myself if possible.”
Scans and blood tests. Several things wrong, but several things right as well. From all these numbers, Mike could tell me what I was doing wrong, and what to change. I was borderline osteoporotic. “Stop jogging and start weight lifting and that will reverse”, he said. “Also your cholesterol is high, but we don’t care. Your cholesterol particles are too big to get stuck in your arteries and you aren’t ever going to get heart disease. You are insulin resistant, that’s causing the weight gain. Cut down on starch and that will go away.”
This was certainly not ‘standard-practice’ in 2000. Any other doctor then would have said take calcium pills for the osteoporosis, statins for the cholesterol, keep jogging, and eat less fat for the weight issue. If I had done all that, I would still have all those problems. By now, I would have been stoop shouldered, overweight, and basically just plain old.
But I listened. Fifteen years later, I have faithfully followed this advise, re-measuring frequently to make sure I was ‘on track’. The osteoporosis is long gone and will stay gone. No heart problems. Have gained 10 pounds of bone and 10 pounds of muscle, but lost 30 pounds of blubber. I look younger today than photos from 2000. In a health sense, I am indeed younger. I feel younger. Quantitative Medicine certainly has worked well for me.
I am retired now. The baby girl is in high school. I decided that my grand retirement project would be to spread the word, to take the concepts of Quantitative Medicine to all that would be interested. Hence this blog. Much more to come. I am planning to be around for quite a while.
I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. However, I’m contributing to this blog, not as an engineer, but as a patient. I do have an engineer’s curiosity though, which brought me here. There is no known cure for curiosity.