Ah, if only it were all so simple. I look at my older relatives and the way some of them simply go to the doctor, take what he or she says as truth, apply it and hope for the best. After all, why would you question a doctor? The person went to medical school and must certainly know more than I do. He wouldn’t try to harm me. He genuinely cares about what is going on with me and wants to achieve the best outcomes for me in the long-term, right?
I don’t want to start this post off on a foot that translates to, no, doctors don’t give a damn about you and couldn’t really care less about anything other than their own personal glory and advancement. Because I don’t actually feel that way. Western medicine had made such tremendous advancements that you can’t even believe some of the surgeries and treatments that are available today. There are so many amazing doctors out there who have devoted their lives to their patients, their research and their specialties. But this is not every doctor. Not by a long shot.
Unfortunately, I have come across more doctors in my life who were lacking than those who have blown me away with their ability to treat me and to understand my personal health issues and the best way to treat the whole me. Should I be surprised? Probably not. If I think of it as a numbers game and the fact that doctors aren’t superhuman, my experiences are probably to be expected if one looks at simple economics and human nature. I talk to a lot of people all the time and I hear of plenty of the same (or worse) experiences as I have had happening all over the world. I don’t think you can be a thyroid patient and not have a healthy sense of skepticism about the whole modern medicine shebang. We are too used to outdated and inaccurate information, incompetence, arrogance and complete lack of empathy to be so naïve. Now with MTHFR, I get to have a new experience into the world of doctors and a lesser-known, controversial chronic condition. Down the rabbit hole I go.
It wasn’t until I started going to acupuncture that I really got a taste of the divide between Western and Eastern/Natural medicine. Suddenly I was talking to a professional about vitamins and minerals, hormones and drug-free intervention. There was no medical board oversight scolding a practitioner for treating a thyroid problem effectively, or samples of pills being foisted on me from the drug companies. We talked about all of my health and how one thing influenced the other. I received specific guidance on what to eat and what to avoid. From these experiences I will now always combine the two approaches in the treatment of anything I face.
For many years I was at the mercy of the foreign public health system. If you are American and have never lived overseas, you really don’t have any idea of what you’re talking about when you cheer for socialized medicine and scorn the quality of healthcare in the United States. Oh yes, there is a lot to hate here, I know. But spend some time on waiting lists or completely without a particular specialist in your area, or receiving outdated treatments or medications and you will probably rethink your politics on this issue. I might have to travel to find a doctor who can help me in the US but at least I know he or she is out there.
Many of us spend years with the wrong doctors before finally throwing up our hands and saying that there has to be a better way to live out there. It is certainly challenging to find the right fit. My experiences with doctors have been hit or miss. Some of this has been my own fault as well. For example, for someone who is hypothyroid, I should have known a lot more about my condition than I did when I first started thinking about it for pregnancy. I always took for granted that whoever was treating me knew what he or she was doing. I never asked for copies of my lab results or knew what tests the doctors should be running and what the results meant. Now I do, of course, but I always feel a quiet sense of unease when encountering a doctor for the first time. Are they going to meet my questions with an edgy glare of superiority or am I lucky this time? This time I will learn something new about thyroid management because, thankfully, this doctor is up to date and knows what he or she is talking about. Is she going to be annoyed with me and how many tests I want done and my demands for certain medication or secretly relieved that I am a proactive patient who is dedicated to long-term, preventative health? So many doctors are just plain old lazy: they read lab results by the reference range and don’t stray too far outside of standard practice when approaching their treatment of a patient. I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with a doctor about my diet or vitamins and minerals.
I should note that I am still looking for an endocrinologist and am currently unsure whether I am on the correct dosage of thyroid medication. It has all been trial and error since the start of the year and every three weeks I go for my lab results and adjust my medication accordingly. I think I am on the right dosage at the moment but I have to keep monitoring it. For my MTHFR, I have an appointment with a doctor at the end of August. I am very excited about a researcher I am meeting with next week to discuss MTHFR and some of the other potential issues that might be going on with me. It’s amazing how when you start down one path and start talking to people about what is going on with your health issues, how much you learn and how you are serendipitously connected to other people. That is happening for me right now and I’ll be sure to update you here after my visit and testing.
I encourage everyone to be proactive with their health and their conditions. Seek out specialists who are recommended by their patients and don’t be afraid to question your doctor or to seek second, third or even fourth opinions. In my next post I will go over some of the ways to take advantage of the vast quantities of resources that are available online, and how to use them to find a professional partner in your quest for good health. Also, you shouldn’t feel shy about your health conditions. Talk to as many people as you can about them during the course of your appointments and treatments and you will always learn something new. I can’t believe some of the discoveries I’ve made by just being my naturally curious, talkative self.