Dealing With Your Doctor
Advice from Carol Roberts, M.D.: Advice for Patients With Hypothyroidism
She was tired. Puffy bags stood out under her eyes. She was overweight, and despite her 35 years, had a hard time climbing onto the exam table. Her 5’3” supported almost 200 pounds of layered, swollen flesh. Her hair was thin and dry, framing her bloated face like a haystack in a windstorm. She couldn’t sleep at night, yet she’d fall asleep behind the wheel at red lights, and had a bad problem with constipation. You get the picture.
She’d gotten this way gradually, over three years, since the birth of her highly energized little boy. It was as if he had sucked the life out of her. Her was her third child. She’d given up a promising career as a paralegal to raise her children, planning to get her law degree when the youngest started high school. Her husband was bewildered by what was happening to his wife, and was frustrated by her lack of interest in sex. He thought she didn’t love him anymore, although he was very helpful with the kids, when he was home.
She’d been to six doctors, two family practitioners, two internists, an endocrinologist and a psychiatrist. She was taking Prozac, Ativan and occasional Protonix for heartburn. She was at her wits’ end. No one seemed to be able to help her. Then a friend told her about a holistic doctor and she decided to take a chance.
What she learned was that she had a classic case of hypothyroidism, but none of the conventional lab tests could pick it up, so none of the previous doctors would treat her. They valued the numbers on the page more than their clinical impression of the woman sitting directly in front of them. Her own observations of her declining health were discounted and she was dubbed “depressed”, -which of course she was, wouldn’t you be? Lab tests often don’t register that the thyroid hormone may be misshapen or that the enzymes or minerals needed for its utilization are missing, thereby leading the doctor into a false impression of normalcy.
The treatment of depression these days is a pill called an SSRI, or “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor”. On the assumption that the cause is a “chemical imbalance” people are given chemical drugs to increase the chemical serotonin in the brain. What this does is to blockade the natural flow of emotions, which are carried by chemical messengers called neuropeptides, in the brain. People may feel “better” but all that’s happened is they have lost the ability to feel anything else. Many such people say they just feel numb. Now, numb is better than suicidal, to be sure, but the real question is still up in the air, - why is this individual depressed in the first place? It seems that once we’ve drugged someone (also known as “treatment”) we can stop asking questions.
The new doctor immediately started her on Armour thyroid, a naturally derived form of thyroid replacement that is pharmaceutical grade, so you know what you’re getting. Even more importantly, he allowed her time to talk, to tell her story, to vent her frustration over three years lost to poor health. He pointed out to her that these three years were spent learning about certain challenges that only such an experience can deliver. From her time spent sick, she can learn how to empathize with others, and become a better person.
As she gradually increased her dosage of thyroid medication, one fine day she woke up and the “brain fog” had cleared. Her mind worked, and she was suddenly possessed with a feeling that, yes, maybe life was worth living, and she herself had finally risen from the dead. She asked her doctor to wean her off the drugs, since they were no longer needed. Her smile, her hair and her attitude became bright again and the pounds started rolling off.
This story is one of thousands, if not millions, which illustrate the degraded state that medicine has come to in this second millennium. Most doctors are trained to listen for a few buzz words and then reflexively write a prescription for whatever drug is “indicated” for this patient. Often multiple drugs are needed to combat the individual symptoms, and the side effects of the other drugs. Patients are seen for only a few minutes, doctors are rushed and harassed, diagnoses are made on scant information and people are turned into drug users for life.
What can the informed person do in such a situation? First of all, trust your instincts. If you are not being heard, if every visit to the doctor’s office is frustration and more frustration, - go elsewhere! You deserve better! Look for a doctor who takes time with people, even if your insurance doesn’t cover the visit - you deserve that. The cost of an office visit or two is miniscule compared to the cost of your suffering!
If you haven’t got such a practice in your area, look farther afield. Travel, vote with your feet, make it happen. A good way to find a practitioner is to ask at your local health food store. They know who in the area is sympathetic and who isn’t.
If you still want to deal with your old doctor, you will have to take some steps to get what you need. First, arm yourself with information. If you are pretty sure what’s wrong with you, even if the lab tests don’t show it, take an article (like this one) with you that explains how this can happen. Make sure it’s been written by an M.D. (Magical Degree) or other M.D.’s might not listen. Know enough about your condition that you can ask for what you want. A polite “Doctor, do you think we can do a trial of thyroid replacement?” might get a response, whereas if you wait for him to suggest it that might never happen.
If your problem is more complex, perhaps chronic fatigue accompanied by muscle aches and pain, suggesting fibromyalgia, you really need someone knowledgeable to work with. Many doctors do not acknowledge that such conditions exist. Often you can start with a practitioner other than an M.D. A good massage therapist, a nutritionist, an acupuncture doctor, a homeopathic practitioner, all will be more receptive, - and much more helpful - in this case than the average M.D. Listen to your instincts, they will tell you who will and who won’t be on your side. Be your own best friend and stand up for your right to be heard by your doctor!
You can get a list of holistic medical doctors by contacting the American Holistic Medical Association at 6728 Old McLean Village Drive, McLean, VA 22101-3906, or call them at (703) 556-9245, or check the website at www.holisticmedicine.org. The list is available for a small fee ($10) covering costs of production and mailing.
Meanwhile, look for others who have had similar experiences and share strategies for getting better. Your health is your responsibility! The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will start to get better. Good luck and happy hunting!
TO CONTACT DR. ROBERTS
For more information or a consultation with Dr. Carol Roberts, contact her at:
1209 Lakeside Drive
Brandon, Florida 33510
All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician or health practitioner before starting a new treatment program. Please see our full disclaimer.