The Case for Arguing for Yourself Medically

When I went to my doctor and told her that there was a problem, and I got a response of, “your labs are normal. Let me know if you have any more problems,” I knew I had a problem with my doctor. She wasn’t listening to me, or hearing my problems. I told myself I would not visit her again.

Every patient deserves to be heard.

Due to some insurance changes, I decided to focus my energies immediately after that on optimizing my diet. I worked with local metabolic efficiency coach Robyn LaLonde to work on improving my metabolism, and just through dietary changes was able to learn how to eat to support my metabolism, fight hunger cravings, and avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes. That was great, and worked well for my busy schedule as I was still training for Ironman Wisconsin.

So after switching insurance again, I decided to settle in and find a new primary provider for me. I still suspected I was having issues with my thyroid, and wanted to figure out what was going on. Around the same time, I met someone who also had hypothyroidism and she had shared that she was on Naturethroid and this medication had a great positive impact on her. I had never heard of Naturethroid before. I did some research, and found that many medical doctors are wary of the medication, which is dessicated pig thyroid. I decided to try and find someone who would be willing to prescribe it if they thought it might be better for me. I knew that, even if Naturethroid wasn’t right for me, that provider would at least be open to various types of treatment.

I found the Integrative Medicine department at Northwestern Medicine here in Chicago, and figured if anyone would be open, it would be this team focuses on holistic health. When I met with the Nurse Practitioner there, I had an experience I’ve never really had as an adult going to the doctor before. She spent a lot of time talking with me, asking me questions about what I eat, validating that it’s ok to be frustrated if you can’t lose weight, and that you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re always tired.

She explained to me how thyroid distinction works, and suggested that other hormones too may be out of whack based on how I’d been feeling. She shared with me a book to learn more about thyroid health.

We ran some blood tests, and determined that yes, my thyroid was not functioning quite as expected, and that the standard TSH test wasn’t showing my whole health picture. She set me up on the Naturethroid.

I felt a bit different right away. A bit more energy, a bit lighter in mood. But I was still tired and feeling very heavy despite clean eating and a decent amount of activity.
When we tested after having taken the Naturethroid for a few weeks/months, and we didn’t see the lab test improvements we should have, that was indicative of fatigued adrenal glands. Adrenal Fatigue is a condition that my symptoms and the tests indicated was likely going on, so she prescribed two supplements to help support and build up the adrenals. Another immediate effect felt.

What I want others struggling with potential hormonal issues to know:

  • You are not alone. If you do not have a medical practitioner who is interested in helping you, you should find someone who does want to help you feel your best.
  • There are more options than just Synthroid (if you are hypothyroid)
  • There are diet and lifestyle changes that can support your health. I learned the most from the Stop the Thyroid Madness book, but there are others out there.

Be patient.

It took a solid six months, but once I got to the right thyroid dosage, I started to see weight loss from a standard clean diet. Which is an amazing change from before, where I had to eat an incredibly strict clean and low-carb diet just to be able to not gain weight. It’s been mostly slow and steady progress.  With tweaks to my nutritional routine, I’m starting to see faster progress now on losing weight despite the hypothyroidism.

Connect with Others

I’ve found it helpful to talk with others who have similar experiences to me.  In particular with triathlon and running, I have found so little information on dealing with hypothyroidism and endurance training. I recently formed a Facebook Group to help people connect and share their issues and stories… let me know if you would like to be a part of it!

 

Two posts from other blogs that may be of help to you:

My Journey With Thyroid Doctors on Hypothyroid Mom

No Time to Waste in Helping More Patients on Patient Power Blog

I hope you find this helpful. I know it’s something that I wish I’d read about years ago.  If you need to talk with someone about your issues, please let me know and I’m happy to talk and help brainstorm ideas on how you can get the help you deserve! 

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  1. Thanks for this post Lauren. I’ve had almost the same exact experience. From several months no matter how strict I made my diet I would gain weight and be very tired. I had blood work done twice over the course of six months and the labs came back normal. My doctor also was just like “hey, being tired is normal, we’re all tired.” That’s when I decided I wouldn’t go back to her. She wasn’t listening and clearly didn’t care about how I felt. I’ve selected a new doctor but I haven’t gone yet since I hate having blood work done. I have started working with a nutritionist to optimize my diet and that has helped some. The weight still isn’t coming off like I want it too, but I have at least stopped gaining weight. The worst was when I gained 14lbs over the course of 6 months without changing my diet at all, except to eat healthier/cleaner/out less. I’ll have to look into the book you mentioned. Thanks!

    • Hugs out to you!!! I know how hard it is when you’re gaining weight but think you’re doing a lot of the right things. I’m curious what your nutritionist has tweaked with your diet? Hopefully you get up the time/energy/courage to get your bloodwork done! Hopefully you have a doctor that will listen to you and your issues!

  2. Patient empowerment and advocacy is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. So many people just default to “doctor knows best” and don’t speak up for themselves, don’t ask questions, don’t advocate for themselves, and/or avoid doctors because it’s not a good experience, and sadly, that costs lives 🙁 I’ve actually been noodling around ideas to move my career in a direction that supports patient empowerment. Not sure exactly how though.

    • I first learned about this after Mike’s accident, and learned about medical advocates who help patients navigate the medical bills side of things. But on making healthy decisions, that does seem very intriguing and feel-good to help empower patients!