Deciphering Health

In last Monday’s post, I mentioned the results I received of the latest round of bloodwork in the office of a NYC doctor who specializes in functional medicine. If you want to know whether you’re deficient in vitamins, minerals, and hormones and how to treat them, this is the kind of doc that you want to see.

My bloodwork came back with the following: low thyroid, low morning cortisol (morning sleepiness), low Vitamin D, very low Vitamin C (!!!), low iron, and low magnesium. I got a second prescription for thyroid medication (Armour) that I began this week to supplement a custom T3 slow-release thyroid medication that I began after my first visit in December. I’m taking iron with Vitamin C, magnesium before bedtime, and an herbal supplement for the adrenal glands, which are responsible for cortisol.

This week, I also tried cutting yeast out of my diet because I probably have Candida (symptoms of bloating, sugar cravings, and headaches). I essentially cut out sugar and breads of all kinds, sticking to crispbreads with no yeast, nor vinegars nor spices nor cheese nor anything that might grow bacteria on it. And I have no idea if it’s that or if it’s the Armour, but I have lost between 3-4 lbs. With low thyroid, it can be hard to lose weight. Everyone says that it gets harder to lose weight as you age.

But what if it isn’t your age? What’s if it’s just that you are low on thyroid, and that’s why the weight stays on? Acne and headaches are also indicators of thyroid problems, both of which I have. So, is it yeast or is it thyroid that’s keeping me in constant headache status? I don’t have a minute of a day in which I am not cognizant of some level of headache. I can’t remember the last time I had a headache-free day. I guess I’m just going to have to wait to see if my thyroid levels get back into the optimal range to find out.

I talked with a friend after my last medical visit. She wanted to know if the doctor knew why all this was happening. Would you believe that question didn’t enter my head to ask the doctor? You go into a doctor, you think you’ve asked everything you’ve wanted, and then your friend asks what’s the problem. Brain fog! I have been saying that I’ve had fibromyalgia for years because that’s what the docs I saw decided it was. Apparently, brain fog is also a sign of thyroid issues, as is lack of concentration. One specialist I saw pooh-poohed the idea that I needed bloodwork to test for Lyme or for anything, really. After what I’ve experienced, all I can say is:

Don’t listen to them!

If you don’t feel well and you’re not getting better, you need a doc and a panel of bloodwork to find out.

After moving to NY, the doc I chose did a whole lot of bloodwork. But since she’s a primary care and not a functional medicine doc, she did not get me on supplements. A year goes by when I tell her that I want someone to treat the whole me because I reject her idea of going to a psychiatrist just to manage the adjustment of Cymbalta.

I started taking Cymbalta because it was reported to help patients with fibromyalgia sleep better at night, one of the signature problems in fibromyalgia. I wanted off the Cymbalta because of the expense and because it’s not helping the problem itself. I am tired of spending $200 a month on pain and sleep medications. If I have to spend that much, I might as well spend it on supplements that are addressing deficiencies.

My primary care referred me, and so this is how I end up with this functional medicine doc who does blood work and puts me on appropriate meds and supplements. Then my friend asks me what is causing all this. So now I wait, but this is fine with me. I started a file wherein I am keeping track of the questions I have for this doc at my next visit in April. Two weeks before going, I’ll get another round of bloodwork to see if the meds and supplementation are having any affect on my deficiencies. In the meantime, I decide to start reading.

Trying to educate yourself on health issues by reading online is likely to leave you confused and with a headache. From what I gather, gut issues (Candida, for example) can cause an inability to absorb nutrients. Lack of nutrients affects your body’s ability to create hormones (ie. thyroid). Stress, lack of sleep, etc. can disrupt the HPA (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenals) axis, which leads to a disruption in the hormones that these organs produce which, in turn, causes a disruption in the ability to absorb nutrients.

I have been exercising regularly, I meditate daily, and I have relatively low levels of stress (although driving on the roads can send it soaring occasionally). I definitely need help with the sleep thing, still, but I am going to give supplements the time to do their thing. Even though the gut – vitamins absorption – hormones – sleep cycle seems like an unending loop, fermented foods can help restore good bacteria in the gut. Things like birth control pills, long-term antibiotic use, and lack of fermented foods in the diet can contribute to poor gut. From what I have read, a restored gut can also mean reducing or lose food allergies because it’s now back to being strong enough to handle what you eat. It’s been suggested that certain food allergies, like to gluten and dairy, might actually be an issue with the microflora in your gut.

Fermented foods are things like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi. I bought milk kefir this week, but I want to get the kefir grains so I can make it on my own and reduce my expenses. You can also make kefir with water or coconut milk. I want to try my hand at making sauerkraut, although I will have to wait much longer for that to cure. I have friends who have made kombucha, and I’m going to try that, too. I want to become more confident in the kitchen, broaden my diet, and throw in some good bacteria. Sounds yummy, doesn’t it?

I hope to the highest of high heavens that I can be restored to something approximating good health. I am coming to the conclusion that, although rour regular primary care doctor may be good to visit when you are sick with a bacterial infection, you need to go somewhere else, if you care about achieving optimal health.

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