Category Archive: doctor

Your Health Is Your Wealth by Jen Wittman

 JenIt is a pleasure to have Holistic Health Care Expert Jen Wittman guest post here on zenthyroid.com.  I first met Jen on Twitter and love the knowledgeable and compassionate way which she shares advice.  Jen is a leader in our thyroid community who has a sincere desire to help others recover from illness.  She has healed her own Hashimoto’s (!!!!) and now coaches others to do the same.

Jen is the creator of The Radical TLC Solution, a home study program that teaches an effective and holistic approach on treating and reversing thyroid, autoimmune and inflammatory disease.  Jen offers step-by-step plans focused on nutrition, lifestyle and heaps of self-care.  I have personally done The Radical TLC Solution and it has changed the way I have approached my healing process.  I now see my thyroid disease in a different light – more as a symptom of a larger issue than just the main problem that I need to focus on.  I truly feel more empowered!  This is the first program that I have endorsed – I really believe this can help so many of us to feel better and have greater control of our health.

In this article, Jen shares the benefits that we can get by expanding our health care team and mindset beyond the doctor’s office.  Having a group of healers (including ourselves) approaching our disease from different angles provides us with more access points to wellness.

 

Don’t forget: Your Health IS Your Wealth.

If you’re a thyroid, autoimmune or inflammatory disease sufferer, it’s time to think outside the HMO/PPO box when it comes to your health.

The kind of health care that is the most impactful and long-term often comes from a team effort. Some practitioners on your health team will be covered by insurance—and that’s a great thing. Other extremely talented, complementary, functional and integrative physicians, practitioners, coaches and experts will not be covered by the health insurance companies’ wee little umbrella. But that doesn’t mean they should be left out of your health care.

When we take preventive measures to protect our health and stay energized and fulfilled, we don’t need to seek traditional medical care as often. We have to invest in our health—whether that means paying out of pocket for services, treatments, supplements or self-care like massage, fitness classes, reiki, etc.

Western medicine has its limits.

If you’re dealing with thyroid or autoimmune disease, chances are you’ve run smack into the limits of Western medicine. Don’t get me wrong: Western medicine can accomplish miraculous things and I definitely wouldn’t want to do without it. What I do want is for our doctors and medical schools to wake up to the fact that Western medicine isn’t all there is.

For example, complementary healing techniques can be powerful tools for reversing thyroid, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Incorporating a few of these techniques will balance your personal healing program and likely speed up the process of reversing these diseases.

Some of these techniques may be covered by your insurance, so it’s worth it to check it out. I know investing financially in your health can be tough sometimes, but many alternative healing practitioners work on a sliding scale or are open to trading their services if you have something to trade.

The great thing is that you get to choose how to invest in your health so you get the best, most efficient health care which, in the end, will pay you back by preventing or eliminating disease as well as cutting down on health care costs now and down the road.

Who’s on your healing team?

Here are the top 5 practitioners I would invite onto your healing team NOW rather than investing in hospital visits later:

  1. Health Coach or Nutritionist The number one key to healing thyroid and autoimmune problems is healing your gut, so a health coach, nutritionist, or other practitioner who can help guide you to getting your gut healed would be my absolute first priority if I were newly diagnosed.

  2. Acupuncturist I came to acupuncture after my husband and I were hit by a semi-truck. I had so many physical injuries and I was under a mountain of stress and health care bills. Luckily, my GP was at UCLA and the clinic next to his office was the UCLA East-West Medical Clinic. My doc referred me there to try to get a handle on my stress and my injuries. I am so glad he did. He recommended I get weekly acupuncture (which was covered by my insurance!), so for 3 years, I had acupuncture treatments a couple of times a month.  It really helped with so many things…and any new symptom that cropped up could be addressed in real-time with my beloved acupuncturist. He even helped me with nausea and other symptoms during my pregnancy. Acupuncture can be helpful for a host of things including thyroid.

  3. Massage Therapist Massage is more than just a luxury. It’s true that it’s something you have to invest in, but as with so many of these healing steps, it’s an investment in your long-term health and wellbeing. Medical studies have revealed that even a 10 or 20 minute massage (the kind you can get at the grocery store or the mall!) can have therapeutic benefits including improving immune function, boosting circulation, reducing stress, reducing the time it takes to recover from injury, and alleviating pain. It can also reduce depression and anxiety and promote restful sleep patterns. Massage also promotes circulation and the elimination of toxins from your body, which are key to improving your thyroid health. And, massage is making its way into “mainstream” medical treatment. Some insurance policies now cover massage, and some massage chains (like Massage Envy) are adept at filing claims with your insurance company for you.

  4. Reiki Practitioner I would have never believed that Reiki could work or even tried it if I wasn’t suffering so badly a few years ago. I read and read about it but was always worried that I’d waste money on a Reiki treatment because I wouldn’t be able to tell if it actually worked or not. Luckily, on a visit back home to Indiana, a friend of mine encouraged me to try out her Reiki practitioner when I was complaining of hip pain. The experience I had was life-changing. Not only could I feel this energetic massage, my nervous system felt relaxed, my thyroid felt vital and my body felt energized. I have not questioned the healing power of Reiki since and have incorporated it into my personal healing program.

  5. Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong Instructor Qi Gong, tai chi and yoga are all ancient forms of mindful, meditative and gentle exercise, and also happen to be easy ways to increase the circulation of your lymphatic system. The movements of all of these mind/body fitness techniques helps provide relief to the lymphatic system as well as assists with lymphatic drainage, which is important to detoxifying your body. These techniques also relax the nervous system while providing energy to the body. We all know we need to exercise, even when we’re dealing with thyroid symptoms, and a good yoga class can be gentle enough for even your tired days, while invigorating enough to be beneficial to your body.

I know, first hand, that we can take charge of our health and our bodies and heal ourselves with the right application of TLC.  If you’re ready to invite more healing into your life, I encourage you to check out my brand-new program, The Radical TLC Solution: Your simple, 6-week self-care strategy to turn around thyroid, autoimmune & inflammatory disease.

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About Jen Wittman:

Jen Wittman, creator of Thyroid Loving Care, is a Holistic Health Care Expert and compassionate thyroid/autoimmune coach providing one-of-a-kind, long-lasting healing programs with a heaping dose of joy and humor. She offers a FREE program to thyroid & autoimmune sufferers on how to love their body back to health as well as in-person, Skype and phone coaching for groups and healing programs you can do at home. Jen has degrees in psychology, nutrition, culinary arts, transformational coaching, and Italian.

She spent a year honing her cooking skills in Italy and is passionate about helping thyroid & autoimmune sufferers take back their lives and feel normal again. She works tirelessly as an advocate, resource and coach to help people reverse disease and eliminate thyroid & autoimmune symptoms so they can live a life full of energy, joy and fulfillment.

Jen created The Radical TLC Solution (Click Here!) a six week program that teaches participants the diet and lifestyle changes that improve thyroid, autoimmune, and inflammatory disease and sets them up for a healthy, vibrant life long-term.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.zenthyroid.com/2014/03/25/health-wealth-guest-post-jen-wittman/

Your Journey Is Right On Time

I am so honored to introduce you to Kelly Shadix, thyroid warrior.  Kelly is an integral part of our amazing thyroid community on Twitter, always supporting the rest of us with kindness and positivity.  Kelly’s openness in relaying her experience is inspiring and I am grateful that she has shared her thyroid story with us.  Follow Kelly on Twitter @ShadixKelly.

Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free”

 

Kelly

My name is Kelly Shadix.  I’m 42, will be 43 in March.  A mother of two and married almost 20 years.

This is my Thyroid Story:

I was 37 years old when I first noticed a change in my body.  At first I thought it was new stress from leaving my job, which by the way I was very unhappy with for a long time.  It wasn’t till later that I realized Hashimoto’s is brought on by stress.  My body seemed to start breaking down, muscle weakness, extreme fatigue, hair loss, mood swings, anxiety, weight gain, and last but not least and this is a big one – zero focus!  My mind is all over the place like the quote “My brain has too many tabs open”.  Yep, that’s me all the time!

It wasn’t until a dry (constant) cough that started and never went away did I start to realize something was wrong.  At first of course I tried to play it down to friends & family “it’s no big deal-just a cough it will go away”… well it didn’t.  I became so self-conscious of my cough when I was out running errands, son’s baseball games, at the movies, shopping.  I was constantly popping honey cough drops everywhere I went to sooth my throat.

I remember one day talking to my mom over the phone and she said “Kelly, why do you keep coughing?”  And of course I said many excuses to her, its nothing, no big deal!  I will go see a doctor soon. I said this just to pacify her, so she wouldn’t worry.  But I did worry!  It’s funny how talking to my mom made me realize my cough could be something more!?  Moms always seem to know when something is not right.

I began so many cough/combination and over-the-counter allergy medications and doctor visits, only to say, “This is not working either” over two years.  It was starting to wear me down.  Finally, my doctor recommended for me to see an allergist to get tested.  All came back negative for indoor/outdoor allergies but we tried a new medication(s) just in case something might work.  Well, it didn’t…I can’t even remember all the different trial-runs of medications I went through; it’s all a blur to me now.

I got a referral to see an ENT.  Okay, so this is where my Thyroid Journey truly begins.  This moment will stay with me for as long as I live.  My ENT doctor, who I call Dr. B, sat me down in his office to begin an exam of my neck.  He barely touched my throat and stopped to press in, as if he found what he was looking for, then stood back and calmly said, “You have a nodule”.  I remember just sitting there not realizing what his words meant.  A nodule?  What is a nodule and why is it in my throat?  Dr. B was so patient with me, explained that we can have it biopsied and not to worry, that its chances of being cancerous were very slim.  He went on to explain percentages and biopsy procedures, but it all went over my head. My mind was stuck on the word “cancer”.  What?  How can this be happening to me?

After leaving the doctor’s office my mind shifted from worry to detective.  I guess this is when I became my own advocate, although it never occurred to me at the time that was what I was doing.  I called my mom ASAP!  When I told her about my nodule, she said she had a nodule for as long as she could remember and doctors just told her to get it checked every so often to make sure it wasn’t growing.  I was stunned!  She then told me about my great-grandmother dying from thyroid cancer.  Apparently, before she died her goiter or nodule got so big that it was hard for her to lay down flat without feeling like she was choking and couldn’t breathe.

At my next scheduled appointment with Dr. B I told him my family history and that I wanted to skip the biopsy and go straight to surgery!  I wanted the nodule removed.  Surprisingly he agreed to my request to have the nodule removed and get it tested during surgery.  Dr. B also felt the nodule was pressing against my vocal cords and that could be causing my cough.  I wanted it done immediately!  The cough was not my worries anymore, if anything it was my body trying to tell me something was wrong!  In August of 2011, I had a partial-thyroidectomy. The good news was the nodule was benign.  The bad news was they found another nodule on the right side which was too small to remove.  In recovery, I felt like I was hit by train.  Thankfully, one of my good friends is a nurse who helped me with the bandages and told me what to what to expect with my recovery.

During this time, my twin-sister Penny went to get her thyroid checked.  She also had nodules and had a biopsy done.  The biopsy came back inconclusive.  Penny decides to have a total-thyroidectomy and they find capillary cancer.  The doctors said she was extremely lucky, because the cancer spread to her lymph nodes, which they removed nine of.  Following her surgery she had to do radiation.  As of today she is “cancer free” and doing well, but is having a hard time adjusting without her thyroid.

Six months following my partial-thyroidectomy surgery, I had a follow-up with Dr. B and found out that the nodule on my right side was growing.  I requested Penny’s medical records for my doctor to review.   We discussed my options to continue monitoring my nodule or go ahead with a total-thyroidectomy.  I opted for a total-thyroidectomy.  Benign or NOT, I wanted to be pro-active and not take any chances!   My intuition told me to get it done!  This was my choice.  My doctor thankfully agreed with me.  Aside from experiencing low-calcium levels right after surgery, all went well.  No cancer!  My sister, mom and I agreed that “my cough” and persistent follow-ups potentially saved my sister’s life.  Listening to your body is so important!  Little things could turn out to be big things!

I don’t think I could have ever imagined how hard I would struggle without my thyroid.  I thought after my surgery the worst would be over, little did I realize the hardest struggle of my life had just begun.  Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid.  All I knew was to take my thyroid meds every day at the same time and get blood work done every three months.  Four months after my surgery and taking Synthroid, I knew it was not working for me.  Brain-fog, skin irritation, irritable, no energy!  It was just the beginning.  I thought I was losing my mind, and didn’t know what was wrong with me.  I finally went to my doctor and my TSH was 7.11 – it was high!  No wonder I felt like a ZOMBIE.  I requested to switch my Synthroid to Armour, but my doctor would not do it.  I knew Synthroid was not the right medication for me.

So, during this time I continued to get worse and gain weight no matter how much I exercised or ate.  I even had a trainer work with me.  I wasn’t aware at the time how important gluten-free was, or adrenal fatigue.  I became a different person seemingly overnight!  I knew if I was going to get better I had to accept where I was at that moment and move forward.  I let myself get stuck and depressed.  I had to start healing myself from the inside before I could even think about my hair falling out, weight gain, mood swings, brain fog etc.  Changing my attitude was important.  I got lost in the anger and not realizing what was happening to my body.  Also, during this time, the stress of my health put a strain on my family and relationships.

I knew to get healthy I had to find answers…

I began to search the web.  I came across so many great thyroid advocates on Facebook.  But the one that stood out and gave me hope was Dana, a.k.a. Hypothyroid Mom.  I read Dana’s blog and I literally felt compelled to contact her immediately!  I had no idea what to say at that time, except thank you.  I know that seems crazy, but her words touched me, and I knew from that day on it was going to be okay!   Getting off Synthroid was my first priority. I did a year on Tirosint/Cytomel and I was JUST okay for a while.  After three doctors, I finally found one who had no problem putting me on Armour.  I began to feel better almost immediately.  I feel so bad that so many women are taking Synthroid only, or “T4 Hell” I like to call it.  I’m still a work in progress.  I plan to get my hormones checked and a saliva test for adrenal fatigue.  Weight is my #1 issue that I know will always be a challenge for me.  It is going to take time and patience.  I realized that many things will not be the way they used to be and I’m okay with that now.

My hope by telling my story is that it will give someone hope to know that you can overcome this disease.  It will always be day-to-day with what your body can do.  Most days, I feel like I can do it all, some days just enough and there are days I don’t want to get out of bed.  What worked for me might not work for you.  And don’t give up if you think something is wrong!  The hardest part for me was to get the ball rolling and find a doctor who will listen.  I’m thankful for Dr. B and for all that he has done for me.

And last but not least, Mikelle.   I am so thankful to have found you on Twitter and what a great friend and inspiration you are to me.  I was truly honored to be your first guest post.  Thank you for getting me started with meditation.  You are such a beautiful person and so helpful on easing my fears about writing my story.  I love following you on Twitter and on your blog www.zenthyroid.com.  I can relate too many of your struggles on thyroid issues.  I love your perspective and how you overcome by having such a positive outlook on life.

 

“YOUR JOURNEY…

Has molded you for the greater good it was exactly what it needed to be.  Don’t think you’ve lost time.  It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now

                                                                         IS RIGHT ON TIME”      -ASHA TYSON

Permanent link to this article: http://www.zenthyroid.com/2014/02/25/journey-right-time/

Path to Healing Part 1 – Finding Balance

autumn path

Hello beautiful friends, family, thyribe and new readers! I hope that the past several months since I have written have been full of health, healing and joy for you. I have been doing some deep healing of my own. Generally, I choose not to be too specific about my treatment. While I hope to be a friend to others and listen to their stories, I can be pretty conservative when it comes to sharing my own details, both on the internet and in the flesh. However, in this space – OUR space of Zen Thyroid, sharing and openness and freedom and love is encouraged. I have experienced quite a bit since I have last written and want to share it with you.

When I hit bottom a year ago, I was unrecognizable as a normal human being as I morphed into a real-life, walking, breathing hypothyroid symptom checklist. I seemed to have nearly every symptom imaginable. I began working with a doctor who helped me with getting on medication. Things were progressing and I was able to start functioning a little better. This doctor was very nice but I wasn’t really getting much info from her other than prescriptions. After several months, I realized that I was no longer continuing to get better and my doctor did not seem to have answers other than upping my thyroid meds. I had been steadily increasing up to a fairly high dose of Synthroid and Cytomel and had certainly come a long way in managing my symptoms but had stopped moving forward. In fact, I was starting to feel worse again which sent a major red flag straight to my core. The symptom checklist was filling up again. Throughout my illness, I have learned to really try to hear (and actually act upon!) what my body and heart are telling me. I knew that to get to the next level of feeling better, I had to find a new doctor – one who could teach me things that I did not know, someone who would be able to find and correct imbalances in my body that had not been tested for, a doctor who listened and responded with wisdom, a doctor I trusted.

Thanks to an auspicious recipe of internet power, synchronicity, a bit of manifestation and a good dose of luck, I found the doctor that I needed to move forward. He is so in demand that I actually had to wait three months for my first appointment! Despite the fact that I am not exactly famous for my patience, I had no problem waiting. I KNEW this was the right path. My initial appointment was two hours long, featuring an entire hour just with the doc – wow. During this appointment and over the following couple weeks, many tests were taken, a variety of problems were identified and multiple treatments ensued.

The first and quite shocking bit of news was that I was completely overdosing on my thyroid meds. Buckle in…my TSH was 0.006! What?!?!? (Research shows that optimal TSH levels are 0.3 to 3.0, with many patients feeling best somewhere around 1ish) Well, no wonder I wasn’t feeling well, huh? And how OMG seriously holy cow incredibly dangerous for the body to be subjected to this kind of number. My heart, brain and bones were all at risk. So obviously the first course of biz was to lower my dosage. My new doc strongly suggested that I switch to desiccated thyroid (which comes from pigs’ thyroid), specifically NatureThroid. Being a vegan, this was a decision that I did many an hour of soul-searching over until I decided I needed to open up, let go and TRY. Within two months, my TSH had increased nicely to 0.235. Yes, still low but definitely increasing at a good pace. Currently four months in, I can definitely say that I have made the right choice – for me – for now. I will remain open to adjustments as necessary but I am feeling better, symptoms are manageable AND I feel awareness and hope (which could quite possibly be the most powerful medicine we have). I will be tested again soon and am looking forward to seeing where my TSH is at, along with my T3 and T4 levels.

I also had an ultrasound, which did show the thickening of the thyroid walls indicating Hashimoto’s. My antibodies blood tests had never shown Hashi’s, which happens in about 40% of the cases. In some way, I was almost relived to hear that I did have Hashi’s because now at least I know the cause of my low thyroid. Knowledge is quite powerful as they say, and quite a welcome partner in this healing process of mine.

We also tested those fickle hormones – yep, the usual suspects were all involved in the mix – estrogen, progesterone and testosterone – and I have been balancing those babies the best I can. I received testosterone shots for three months (which seemed to help with muscle and strength loss) and continued with my happy sleepy time progesterone cream (love that stuff!). The test results that I found most interesting, however, showed mineral deficiencies and heavy metal toxicities. SO grateful to have uncovered these crucial findings. My thyroid and the rest of my body didn’t even have a fighting chance with the heavy metals poisoning me. I will share my experience with that in part 2 of this 3-part post. In part 3, I will share how and why I had to make the choice to no longer eat a 100% vegan diet.

Sending all of you love. Many of my fellow thyroid bloggers have not posted in a while either and I hope you are all doing OK. I am thinking of each and every one of you.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.zenthyroid.com/2012/12/21/new-doc-part-1-finding-balance/

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