As challenging as it is, living with Hashimoto’s doesn’t need to hold you back from life. Here are 5 ways you you can be your own best advocate in your health journey.
BY: MAUREEN LAKE, MA
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is often referred to as an invisible disease. It’s tough to diagnose and can be difficult to place into remission once it’s identified, and can often take up to five years of feeling terrible to finally get a diagnosis.
Experiencing a flare-up may not be visible to others, but the person undergoing bodily changes can barely keep their head above water, let alone swim. When faced with this health concern, it is vital to become your own advocate because Hashimoto’s can be a life-long health journey with many shifts and twists along the way. Here are 5 ways to make sure you advocate for yourself on your new journey.
1. Your Health Care Team
Surround yourself with an excellent healthcare team that will consider your well-being as a whole. Many medical doctors focus just on the disease itself through conventional therapeutic hormones and medications. However, there are many different conditions related to Hashimoto’s that must also be addressed, including adrenal problems, food sensitivities, digestive issues, infections, toxins, and nutrient deficiencies. Find a doctor that will address these areas in addition to their genuine knowledge about thyroid pharmacology. Locating a doctor trained in Integrated and Functional Medicine, a licensed naturopathic physician, and other supportive health care professionals is crucial to find the best treatment plan for you.
2. Prepare for Your Visit
It can be intimidating going to your first appointment, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible. Ask if you need to fast for the diagnostic tests or if there is any other information you should know in advance. Be sure to keep a list of all your symptoms even if they sound trivial, or question if it may even be related to Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is a big puzzle with many tiny pieces that need to be carefully put together to see the entire picture.
Bring a list of any medications, including vitamins and supplements, you are currently taking – it’s essential information your doctor will want to know. Take someone with you to the appointment. It’s best to get another set of eyes and ears during the visit especially when you’re nervous or worried. And finally, write down all the questions you want answered. If you thought of it, it’s important to ask it.
3. Ask Questions
Whether you are newly diagnosed, or you’ve been living with a thyroid disorder for years, there are some answers to questions you should know.
- What many have caused my disorder? (There are often many reasons, and some are as unique as you are.)
- What are my treatment options? Do I have to take a pharmaceutical?
- How did you determine my dosage of medication and how often do I take it? Is it best to take in the morning on an empty stomach?
- What if I miss a dose of my medication, do I skip or double up?
- What are the side effects of this medication?
- Are there other drugs, supplements or food that can interact with my medicine?
- What other health problems can Hashimoto’s cause?
4. Maintain Your Own Health Records
Now more than ever, it’s essential to keep your health records on hand. Lab results, doctor communications, and various information is maintained electronically and scattered across different providers and locations. Keeping your personal health records will allow you to take charge and advocate for your own needs. Plus, you will give you a complete picture of what’s most important – you.
Use the personal health record as a private reference for other family members in case of emergency, or to use when you partner up with other healthcare providers. Your medical history is yours, and with it, you may eliminate duplicate procedures, save money, and protect your precious time.
5. When to Get a Second Opinion
It’s important to understand that not all doctors have expertise in the area of thyroid disorders. Your doctors time is limited, and their clinical practice may not support helping you as you want. Practitioners are not always aware of the prevalence of thyroid conditions and the toll it takes on the people who suffer. In addition to the global array of complaints that coincide with Hashimoto’s, some physicians may even be skeptical.
Here’s when you need to consider getting a second opinion:
- If your doctor does not explain your lab results or provide
- If your doctor claims your symptoms are all in your head and dismiss you for living a stress-filled life, or tell you it’s menopause, or PMS-related.
- If you’ve been on the same treatment plan for a while and you are not feeling any better.
- If the program is not working or making you feel even worse.
Your Hashimoto’s journey is yours to tell, and it’s as unique as you are.
The fact that there are more than a few ways to heal from this autoimmune disorder is reason alone to become an active advocate in your health story. Without a health care partner who will answer your questions and explain the in’s and out’s, the why and how, and collaborate with others – you run the risk of stumbling and falling along the way.
Remember, you are the most important advocate for your life.
Maureen Lake, MA is a Holistic Wellness Expert and the Best Selling Author of “Being Happy Raising Happy.” She is a graduate of the Integrated Medicine Institute working with Dr. Aviva Romm, and received her certification in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University. She certified in holistic nutrition and special education. She specializes in thyroid and adrenal difficulties, insulin resistance and sleep issues. Maureen’s work has appeared on Fox News, Thrive Global, Healthy Moms Magazine, Organicnewsroom, SheSpeaks, Sixty and Me, and more.