Diet Slave No More!

Diet Slave No More!

by MD, Svetlana Kogan

ISBN: 9780692753071

Publisher Svetlana Kogan, M.D.

Published in Self-Help/Stress Management, Self-Help/Motivational, Health, Fitness & Dieting/Diets & Weight Loss, Nonfiction

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Book Description

This is not a diet book. In fact, it defies all the existing diets.

This book’s approach to weight loss is about you—a holistic plan that focuses on you as an individual. As you explore the question “What am I?” you will discover that the tools you need to create lasting change already exist within you. Learn to use them, and your capabilities will seem almost magical—you will be empowered to make amazing strides in improving your overall wellness and losing weight—progress that used to feel impossible.

Sample Chapter

Who Am I?

Once upon a time, a blond, blue-eyed emigrant from the former Soviet Union—that’s me—graduated from Cornell University and entered Sackler Medical School to become a doctor, one of the most ancient and holiest professions humankind has ever known.

I had always wanted to become a doctor since when I was six years old and hospitalized for a suspected appendicitis. Back then, where I am from, parents were not allowed to stay with their children in the hospital, and very sick kids befriended one another. I made friends with a leukemic boy who was sharing the room with me and eight other kids with completely unrelated illnesses. We listened to my transistor radio and told each other jokes to bide our time. My friend was pale but beautiful, and his golden locks made him look like an angel. One night, there was a lot of commotion, screeching sounds of machines and loud voices, and in the morning, my friend’s bed was empty. He was “gone,” the nurse told me dryly.

The boy’s passing had left me choking with tears and an overwhelming desire to do something to avenge his death when I grew up. And what better profession was there to fight sickness than being a doctor? And so, when it was time to choose a career, my path was predetermined. Despite my love for art history and languages, I headed for medical school, driven by my childhood memories and the promises I made.

Medical school was an exhausting but fascinating journey inside the human body. I was extremely lucky to be taught by some of the brightest medical minds of our time. The academics required tons of dissections and memorizations of Latin names and facts. That’s where my linguistic gifts came in very handy. Our anatomy professor, Dr. Yoel Rak, was a world-famous archaeologist, who had discovered the oldest human skull on the planet. He tried to infuse the otherwise-dry anatomy material with some refreshing evolutionary points of view. Another stellar researcher, Professor Laron, who had discovered nothing less than a syndrome of dwarfism, was trying to lighten up otherwise mundane endocrinology, the science of hormones.

But my most memorable days of medical school were not spent in the classrooms, of course, but in clinical rotations at the hospitals. This was the real deal. My surgical preceptors were war veterans, and they were tough as nails. They taught me how to think fast under pressure and get things done with the minimum of help and resources available. I would often scrub in with trauma surgeons for the late-night cases. One day, around 3:00 a.m., I was very exhausted and ready to call it a night. It was then that an eighteen-year-old boy was brought into our operating room. He was a victim of a car accident; he had flown forward from the backseat into the windshield of the car. The boy was unconscious and rapidly losing blood pressure. A huge incision was immediately made all the way from his solar plexus to the pelvis by the on-call trauma surgeon, who then launched a hunt for the source of bleeding, which if not stopped would’ve destroyed this boy’s life in minutes. Without any CT scans, the source of bleeding was found swiftly through sheer manual search. It was one of the worst kinds, and once exposed, the depressurized blood burst out at us like a wave. After clamping down all the visibly oozing vessels, the surgeon decided to wash the entire content of the abdomen and to look for other squashed or destroyed organs, which had to be removed. Before the aorta—the largest blood vessel in the body—was clamped, he asked me to feel it, and as I unwillingly placed my fingers on it, I felt this boy’s pulsing life. It was very rapid and bounding, and it made me sick to my stomach. The surgeon picked up the boy’s intestines and handed them over to me. “Hold on tight,” he uttered firmly. “I am going to clean up this mess.”

I gasped, as I felt overwhelmed under the weight of the warm and gooey flesh in my arms. All of a sudden, the surrealism of this situation dawned on me: it was 3:00 a.m., I was exhausted, the Yom Kippur War–veteran surgeon next to me was taking out the crushed left kidney, and I was barely standing there, dizzy and tired, ready to collapse, with my arms full of an eighteen-year-old boy’s guts. I sensed a noise in my ears and a familiar feeling of flying into the tunnel, the classical vasovagal episode commonly known as “passing out” after prolonged standing in one spot. To hell with everything, one of the inner voices in my brain was screaming. I am gonna lay you down right now. The other subconscious voice, however, was of a different opinion. It had sent a sharply felt realization down my spine that, by collapsing onto the floor, I would be taking this boy’s life by degutting him.

I don’t know what force kept me on my feet that night, but I stood there until it was all over. The moment I stepped out of the OR, I collapsed onto the floor in the cafeteria. In the morning I was checking to see if the boy had survived, and to my joy, I discovered him smiling in his bed: “Good morning, Doctor Kogan. I heard you guys worked hard to save me last night.”

“I am not a doctor yet,” I mumbled, almost choking on the intense feeling that came all over me. I knew I had avenged the death of my childhood hospital friend.

Moments like these made all the sleepless nights worth it—like the first night of my obstetric rotation in Labor and Delivery. I was chasing an Ethiopian woman down the hallway. She had abandoned her bed and stood in the corner, shaking with fear. Back where she was from, babies were delivered only standing up. Delivering her baby in this unusual-for-me position taught me that, in some parts of the world, people prefer to do it this way. Great.

The second night in my new psychiatric rotation, I was held at gunpoint by a psychotic soldier. He demanded to be injected with a sedative, and having received what he wanted, he happily slumped onto the floor. Marveling at the way the events of that day played out, I got lost on my way home from Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. It was a very long walk in the pitch-black, and all I remembered was a cue that I lived close to the museum of Israel. Lucky for me, I came upon a bonfire with a bunch of young people sitting around it and smoking pot.

“Looks like you are lost,” they said. Tired and exhausted, I wanted to ask them, “Where is the museum of Israel?” But what came out of my mouth in broken Hebrew at that moment was this: “I am looking for the land of Israel.” They all hopped to their feet and started bowing to me, laughing hysterically, and said, “You have arrived!”

Time has a tendency to fly, and before I knew it, my four years were up, and I was graduating from medical school. I was a proud bearer of the Hippocratic oath, had all the empathy in the world, and was ready to never sleep and to always be ready to help my patients.

My internal medicine residency at the New York City’s Lenox Hill Hospital has been extremely rewarding and intense. All of a sudden, I was not a student anymore—I was a medical intern. The nurses were paging me for orders, and patient’s families were awaiting my care. There was no place for hesitation or doubts. The stress was huge. Back in those days, there was no cap on how long the residents could stay up working, and I often worked eighty-five to ninety-five hours per week.

Two months into my internship, I was walking the hallways of the hospital on my night duty, around 4:00 a.m., ready to “call it a night,” which really meant retiring into the stinky, tiny room where I would try to close my eyes on the bed until someone else would page me for something to do. I had finished my rounds, and all the patients I was covering were tucked in. But one patient kept popping up in my mind: an elderly lady whom I had admitted earlier that night with diagnosis of dizziness. I felt an overwhelming “itch” to check up on her one more time, and my legs literally turned by themselves and led me into the room where a feeble old lady was sitting on the floor, clutching her hand to her chest and breathing heavily. Her eyes were closed. She was unconscious. Lucky for Edith (this was her name), I had instantly recognized the signs of pulmonary edema, a lethal condition when untreated, and swiftly took care of it with my textbook-protocol-IV treatments and oxygen.

When she opened her eyes, the first thing she saw was me standing above her. Smiling with deep relief—we came very close to losing this woman on my night watch—I went home to sleep in the morning, and when I came back in seven hours, Edith had already been moved to a regular floor as she felt much better. I was told that she was looking for her “angel with a Russian name.” She probably convinced one of the nurses to give her my home address. Little did I know that the feeble old patient of mine was a renowned artist and still painting, despite being in her eighties. Several weeks later I received a package from patient Edith Meisl-Bernhard, which I opened with trembling hands, not knowing what to expect. It was a painting of me as seen by Edith awakening from her unconscious state. I was pondering for weeks about what led me into her room that night...

My days as a medical resident were like an emotional roller coaster: some patients were admitted for simple problems, but some never made it out of the hospital. One young woman had refused to abort her dead fetus and, as a consequence, wound up developing an unstoppable bleeding from all the orifices in her body. As a senior resident, I was leading the team of doctors and nurses trying to resuscitate this poor woman for hours. Twenty weeks pregnant myself, I just could not allow myself to let her go. Bags of blood, plasma, and platelets were going into her body and bleeding right out. Intravenous medications were being pushed, and chest compressions would not cease. I had not even noticed that we were an hour and a half past the usual “allowance” for pronouncing someone dead, when they cannot be resuscitated. One of the nurses gently put her arms around me and pulled me away from the bloodbath, saying, “You just have to let go. She is gone.”

That night, doubled over on a little bunk bed in my ICU on-call room, I was choking from tears of inadequacy and hopelessness. I was grieving and wailing so deeply that it was surprising I did not have a miscarriage myself. I had learned that I could not save everyone.

Five months later, after what seemed like a sleepless mixture of drama, horror movie, comedy, and tragedy, the residency experience was finally over.

One day before my due date, I was heading over to my two-day board certification exam. I had a car waiting for me outside in case the baby would insist on coming out pronto. The exam proctors were giving me hateful looks—I was a pregnant menace to their peace and quiet. During the exam contractions came and went, and I kept running to the bathroom, accompanied by the outraged exam proctor, but some invisible force had pulled me through these two days of board exams. The day after the board exams, I found myself on the delivery floor of my hospital; only this time I was the patient.

My delivery was bad. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. After twenty hours of breathless pushing, with an oxygen mask on my face, I was wheeled into the operating room and laid onto the bed, where that poor lady patient whom I was telling you about on the previous page had perished twenty weeks before. Doctors and nurses were running around screaming. Forceps, a vacuum device, and curses were flying in the air—but I was calm. I thought that this was my end. Right there. Right where my patient passed away. I could not save her, and it just made sense for me to die right there. Strangely, I was accepting whatever was coming. But something or someone really wanted my baby and me to live on that day, and we miraculously pulled through.

I even survived the forgotten pieces of placenta, which bled out of me the next day, and the kidney infection that followed. I left the hospital quietly, with a catheter in my lifeless bladder and a bag of urine tied to my leg. No matter; I was thrilled to be alive and have my baby. I knew that I was a survivor, and that meant that I had a mission on this earth.

Eventually, my bladder started functioning again, and I was ready for living out my mission. All the knowledge and experience that were overflowing inside of me had to be expressed and shared. I called up the management in my apartment building and asked them if they had a small office to rent. They said that there was a one-bedroom apartment that had been rented out by a now-retired surgeon. Perhaps, I would want to convert that into a primary-care office. I scratched my head: Convert? That would involve the construction people, right?

Someone recommended an inexpensive guy from Brooklyn. He had never done medical offices, but who cares about a resume when you hardly have any money to spend? “So, what are we doing?” he asked, toothpick in his mouth, standing in the center of an old kitchen that was to become my first office.

“Well for starters, let’s take down all the walls and build a reception area right here by the door. We’ll figure it out from there.” He shrugged and went to work on my office-to-be with his two-men crew. I had no one to consult on the layout or design. There were no doctors in my family, and no one in my graduating residency class was opening his or her own office. The odds of new business failure were too high—statistically 95 percent. But when you are driven, nothing matters. I had randomly picked a medical-equipment guy from the yellow pages and invited him into my “office under construction.”

It was a beautiful January afternoon when this seventy-five-year-old guy named Norman Schor walked into my office-to-be and froze in his feet. “What is this?” he asked, wide-eyed, referring to the overly high countertop in the reception. “How am I supposed to reach this? Never mind leaning on this to write something down. And what the hell is this?” He was eyeballing the entrance door that was swinging open into the office, straight into him standing at the counter. “This thing is going to nail me dead to the countertop. Who built this?” Frustrated, I conveyed Norman’s concerns to my construction guys and asked them to lower the countertop and change the direction the door was swinging. My request must have had devastating effects on their ego, because they decided to just—leave. And they left with almost all of my money that I had paid them forward. To highlight how pissed off they were at my critique, they spilled liquid glue on my floor while leaving.

“In good riddance,” I was muttering to myself, as my family and I were scrubbing the floor for two days with a razor blade, cleaning the glue off the new Home Depot tiles.

Norman was my kind angel. He said, “This is not the end of the world, Doc. I will bring in two new construction people and negotiate a decent price for you.” He also advised me on the legal requirements for the exam-room size and helped to pick the spots for all the electric outlets and the air conditioner. Thanks to Norman’s kind suggestions and my renewed hope and zest, the office construction was finally completed in several months.

On the first day of spring, I announced the opening of the office to the doorman of my building and proudly walked inside my fresh paint–smelling office, wearing a crisp new white coat. Finally, a real doctor! In my own office! My first and only employee, a lady receptionist, gave me an encouraging nod, as I walked into my own consultation room and sank into the furniture from Staples, which I had finished putting together the day before, bolt by bolt. I proudly looked at the diplomas displayed on the walls. The red mahogany of the frames left me satisfied. And so I sat in my plush vinyl armchair—all day. No one came in except the mailman. The same happened the next day—and the next. The phone was silent, and there were no patients in sight. People were not lining up to experience my valuable and fresh knowledge and care. Gradually, restlessness and panic started creeping into my head. I had never felt this way before.

On the one hand, I was overfilled with emotions of empathy for the sick and wanted to share my experience and enthusiasm with the patients. On the other hand, there were no patients to take care of. And what was there, really? A newly built office with all the accompanying expenses and leased-equipment bills, the university and medical-school loans of astronomical sizes that had to be paid off, and the malpractice insurance and babysitting expenses so that someone could stay with my six-month-old child while I was at work.

I was thirty years old and had been in school for twenty-four out of those thirty years. But no school and no one had ever prepared me for the feeling I was experiencing right then—the state that I was in. How was I supposed to act? What was I supposed to do to resolve my situation?

At night, I could not fall asleep, my mind racing in a circular thought of “what do I do?” By morning, I was getting out of bed with a sense of doom and felt really fearful of what the new day was going to bring. I felt hopeless…

Today, rewinding my life’s “movie” backward, I am grateful to my fate for starting me off in my professional career by throwing me down low and deep. If it wasn’t for having to think day and night about finding my way out of the maze that I was in, I don’t think I could ever evolve to become a real healer of the sick: the doctor who not only knows how to treat the disease but also understands how to preserve the health and how to prevent the illness in the setting of what we all live through on a daily basis: real Life, with its trials and tribulations. And so with time, I started to understand that every person’s life script was somehow connected with the state of his or her health and with the workings of their organ systems. This was the beginning of understanding.

Today I am forty-five years old. Sitting in front of my Mac, I often ask myself, “What was it that really prompted me to write this book?” The answer that comes out is unexpectedly simple: “That same overwhelming desire to share my knowledge with and caring for the people who need my help.” Though the knowledge and experience are now of a different kind, on a different level.

In this book I address only one health concern. It may sound simple, but as it turns out, this concern is much more difficult to treat than panic attacks or smoking cessation or chronic fatigue syndrome or insomnia. The problem we are going to tackle is this: How to live without diets and be totally happy with oneself looking in the mirror and stepping on the scale? I will let you follow in my footsteps, on my way to understanding how to treat the problem of excessive weight. In order to conquer your enemy, we will first have to identify who the enemy is and then learn our enemy’s weaknesses. Only then can we try to fight this enemy.


Excerpted from "Diet Slave No More!" by MD, Svetlana Kogan. Copyright © 2016 by MD, Svetlana Kogan. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

MD, Svetlana Kogan

MD, Svetlana Kogan

Svetlana Kogan, MD, practices holistic and integrative medicine at her clinic in New York City. A Cornell University graduate, she received a scholarship from the National Institute of Health for her achievements in diabetes research.

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