The current “news” cycle is up in arms about a football player taking medical advice from a podcaster. Depending on who you read this is either a very bad thing or a fight against woke mobs and cancel culture. If you have no idea what I’m talking about there is no reason to dive in further. Don’t upset yourself.
People take advice from people they trust, and sometimes we trust people we perceive as being smarter or even as having higher social status than us. Shortcuts are part of life. And if you have access to someone, say through a parasocial relationship like social media, that you perceive as being well equipped to solve problems you will probably listen to them. Which is a point Eric Weinstein made about Joe Rogan and healthcare that I think is especially salient.
I think we have to understand that people are also looking to Joe as a pass-through for concierge medicine. If you have brilliant Uber-rich people in your life you hear a lot about medicine you can’t afford. Whole body work ups. Multi day examinations. Lots of medical gear.
I didn’t used to have much health care. I went to free clinics and doctors who I could pay $50 cash to for antibiotics without a hassle. It’s probably little wonder that when I had real health care issues I wasn’t prepared for just how bad most care in America is even with health insurance. I thought I’d get good healthcare with a nice insurance plan. But it mostly sucks. I got dismissed, ignored and generally not diagnosed for almost a year. And then I figured out how wealthy people do medicine. And I began healing.
Holy shit is it night and day different what spending real money outside of your health insurance will do. Like Joe I get concierge care. And to the advice I get is pretty far off what you hear from a baseline healthcare practitioner like say the doctor who can only see you for 20 minutes and can’t risk anything that isn’t clearly proven and approved. But someone who doesn’t answer to a big hospital system? They turn out to be much more flexible and will help you work through the risk and reward (and also cost benefit) of a host of different tests, treatments, supplements, devices and diagnostics.
And over the course of about three years I went from functionally disabled and completely unable to work to, well, basically fine. Three years ago I could barely walk and now I’m back to powerlifting and hiking. But the sick thing is I am certain if I were a plebeian I would be on disability for life. I would have at best been prescribed pain medications and left to rot and potentially develop an addiction or two.
So is it any wonder that in a country with a mass chronic disease issue we’d look to wealthy proxies like Joe Rogan and imitate what he says is his care? Fuck no. It’s downright immoral and condescending to suggest that the victims of American healthcare systems shouldn’t try to help themselves. No one else is stepping up to pay for their healthcare.
What is a genuine issue is that without context and a team of professionals you might accidentally become a victim to conspiracy theories. Which is exactly what we’ve seen with a number of Americans. But the line between conspiracy and simply untested or unproven treatment is a lot blurrier than I expected. I had concerns I’d be taken advantage of by functional medicine doctors and holistic practitioners. And surprisingly that just didn’t happen. I was always given context, research, second opinions and supported in making as informed a decision as possible. Doctors are collaborative by nature and my team has encouraged me in my efforts to test and trial a lot.
This kind of care does not come cheap. I’ve spent close to $80,000 on concierge care services over the past year. This includes everything from diagnostics & testing to compound pharmacy and off label pharmaceuticals (get metformin just trust me), to a host of medical devices and treatments as well as the hourly cost of a primary care physician, a prescribing & case physician (it’s not uncommon for different doctors to do medicine management so as to monitor your entire case for interactions) and clinical nursing. Like I said, if I didn’t have money I would still be on disability. I’d estimate only 20% of my progress came from before I went to a more personalized approach. Medicare for all isn’t going to deliver you the kind of care I got.
I don’t really have a takeaway or solutions here. Most people don’t have complex chronic diseases nor do they have the need for the kind of last 20% health optimization that the billionaire class go in for either. But you can do a lot on your own. A lot of health is just preventative care.
I’ve shared a basic biohacking guide for beginners before. Replacing fat with lean muscle and getting your basic nutrient and fitness profile improved should do a lot for many of you (not true of chronic disease patients that’s complex). After you’ve done the basics on your fitness, body composition, and sleep hygiene for 3-6 months you can move on to supplements. You maybe surprise at what you learn and how much it deviates from what is common knowledge about health. Here is a little hack to save you time. Eat protein, lift weights and get sunlight. And stop looking down on people just trying to survive. That makes you feel better too.