Curiosity, Antidote to Burnout

A patient with chronic pain who had tried CBD oil brightened up my ten hour workday on New Year’s Eve.

The cannabis derived product, free from the classic mind altering THC, has a sketchy record as a treatment for pain. But this woman described something that made me think, and Google for answers.

“It took away all that stinging, burning pain I have had everywhere, but it made me notice my hip and knee pains more”, she explained.

I instantly formulated my question: Does CBD affect signaling in the slow nerve fibers associated with the diffuse pain of fibromyalgia and opiate induced hyperalgesia, thereby making her more aware of the rapid transmission pain messages from her arthritic hips and knees?

“It’s as if your body was like an old fashioned radio and you adjusted the tuning so that the static decreased and now you can hear the actual broadcast more clearly…”, I said.

“Yes, exactly!” Her eyes lit up.

I thought for a moment.

“I would think that is a good thing, empowering, in that your arthritis pain makes more sense and may be more predictable than your fibromyalgia pain. This new state may make you more able to gauge how much you can do before you overdo it in terms of the arthritis.”

She agreed, and promised to keep me posted.

New Year’s Day I read an article on the BBC website that made me think again of my patient’s observation and how it fired up my curiosity. Titled “The secrets of the ‘high-potential’ personality”, it described curiosity as an antidote to burnout and one of several predictors of professional success that the authors claim to be better predictors than the Myers-Briggs Personality Types.

“Compared to our other mental traits, curiosity has been somewhat neglected by psychologists. Yet recent research shows that an inherent interest in new ideas brings many advantages to the workplace: it may mean that you are more creative and flexible in the procedures you use, help you to learn more easily, increases your overall job satisfaction and protects you from burnout.”

The six traits are:

    Adjustment (ability to reframe stressful situations)
    Ambiguity acceptance
    Risk approach/Courage

At the beginning of my day, my mind had been wandering back to New Year’s Eves away from the office, trudging through the snow in the Swedish countryside or dancing at Chateau Frontenac in Quebec.

As my workday ended, I wished my Suboxone group Happy New Year and thought about the literature search I wanted to do on my day off.

May I never lose my curiosity…

2 Responses to “Curiosity, Antidote to Burnout”

  1. 1 Eva Hnizdo January 1, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Yes. Curiosity is wonderful. That also made my job as a GP such fun. Yours too, obviously.
    Nice blog.

  2. 2 Melody Anderson January 1, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    it truly is one of the most important aspects of being human, wanting to know??? I love it when I find people that feel the same as I do. I am always looking up stuff that most would just ignore. When I was homeschooling our children for a period of time, this became a refrain that they still repeat in their late 30’s, go look it up , it is in a book some where. Now we have this amazing tool to find out information about almost anything we can dream of. SO thank you for thinking about what she was saying and now wanting to know if that is the difference. Happy New Year! from iowa

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.


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