Generalists are good, experts can be better (sometimes)

Generalists are good, experts can be better (sometimes)

Trust us, we're expert By phauly on flickrEarlier this week I provided a rundown of my experience going through a sleep study in a post titled To manage it, measure it…but don’t destroy it in the process.

Turns out, I have sleep apnea based on the outcome of the sleep study.   So…I get to go back to do another sleep study with a CPAP machine.  Joy!

What I didn’t share in my earlier post was that, in addition to the sleep study, I’ve been having some other health issues.

A few weeks ago, I’d been noticing that my legs were feeling numb, tingling and just felt ‘weird’.  I attributed this  to the fact that I’d been doing a lot of ‘sitting’ lately with little exercise.

Here I am…a 37 year old male in OK health but I get little exercise due to a hectic work/school schedule.  I don’t get out into the ‘wild’ as much as for photography as I would like, which is about all the exercise i usually get.

So when my leg issues wouldn’t go away, I started researching what the troubles might be.  I started seeing things like ‘poor circulation’ and Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes.  I started to get worried. Very worried.

I also noticed i was feeling a little fatigued. And I just generally felt ‘weird’.

I made an appointment to see my doctor and was told it would be a few days before they could get me in. I didn’t feel like it was an emergency so I didn’t bother pressing for a visit sooner.

I focused on these problems for days on end. I got myself pretty worked up about the health issues and I think I even got myself into a panic attack one day thinking I had some really wrong with me.

I searched Google. I searched WebMD.  I looked at all the info out there. I saw things about diabetes causing poor circulation. I saw all the heart troubles. I saw the many many health problems that all had symptoms like mine.

I don’t have to tell you that I was pretty worried. Downright scared even.

One day last week, I started feeling really weak. I started sweating and my chest felt tight. I was dizzy and just generally felt like poo.  I came very very close to droving myself to the emergency room that day but the feeling went away after I had some orange juice. Note: I’ve always had a low-blood sugar problem – if i don’t eat enough protein for breakfast, I have problems all day.

Once I settled myself down and started feeling better, I realized that it might be that I was worrying myself into poor health. Of course, my lovely wife told me the same thing…that it was all in my head….but did I listen to her?  No. (I do listen sometimes…just not this time.)

So i took a step back and thought about what got me to where I was.

I had a strange feeling in my legs. So….how did i get from that strange feeling in my legs to feeling like I was about to have a heart attack?

Simple…I was taking things into my own hands. I was googling. I was searching. I was picking and choosing symptoms. Heck…at one point, my symptoms pointed to menopause. MENOPAUSE dangit. I’m too young for that! (<~~~ that’s funny right there…because I’m a man.)

All the Google searches in the world won’t help. All the generalist knowledge I have or can obtain about medical issues means very little when it comes time to diagnose and treat those issues.

My doctor’s appointment came and went. He took blood and ran tests. He used his (and the medical lab’s) expertise to find out more specific information about what my problems might be.

Turns out – I don’t have poor circulation. I don’t have diabetes nor do I have any heart problems. What I do have is a bad back that is pinching my Sciatic nerve causing discomfort in my legs. In addition, I have a vitamin D deficiency and a very minor case of Polycythemia (too many red blood cells), which has some of the exact symptoms that I was experiencing. This Polycethemia is something that I’ve got to keep my eye on but isn’t anything to worry about right now as its very minor. The doctor told me to get some exercise and take baby aspirin. I love me some baby aspirin, so I’m good with that approach.

Now…I’m feeling fine. I know there is something wrong with me and I know what lies ahead, which is taking baby aspirin and exercising…horrible i know 🙂

There’s a lesson here though for those of us in business – that lesson is this: While generalists are good and can provide real value, sometimes you need specialists. Sometimes you need experts.

There are times that you have a problem that can’t be solved with your regular consultants or employees. Maybe the problem seems simple but turns out its difficult….but you keep throwing generalists at the issue.  There comes a time when you just have to stop searching and reach out to an expert to solve your problem. The key is knowing when to reach out for help…and who to reach out to.

I’m glad I decided to reach out when I did. At least I know now that I don’t have menopause. 🙂

Image credit: Trust us, we’re expert By phauly on flickr