Walking into the Unknown
About This Episode
Walking into the Unknown traces the intimate journey of an American Indian physician and national health columnist as he navigates the health care system and gains a deeper understanding of himself and his health risks. Dr. Arne Vainio works on the Fond du Lac (Ojibwe) Reservation in northern Minnesota, where his Native patients face grim health statistics. His impending 50th birthday — coupled with his frustration with middle-aged Native men who avoid health screenings — prompts a revelation: he needs to heed his own advice.
At high risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, Vainio chooses to confront the health issues that jeopardize his future by undergoing medical screenings, making diet changes and adopting a lifestyle necessary to prevent a fatal outcome. This poignant story reveals Dr. Vainio's vulnerability as he reverses roles and finds himself a patient. The film also includes several powerful testimonials from community members who have experienced the premature loss of Native men in their families, along with explanations of several diagnostic tests told from the patient's point of view.