My functional medicine doctor is the person I trust to manage my thyroid meds as well as the many other things I have going on medically. Unfortunately she can’t do thyroid ultrasounds in her office so I have been seeing an endocrinologist for the past year to get that done. I’ve seen him a total of 3 times over the past year. His prognosis for Hashimoto’s is to just wait till my body destroys my thyroid. While waiting he will increase the amount of thyroid hormone replacement that need and that I will be on for life. Not a good plan for me.
Traditional medicine looks at Hashimoto’s, as well as other autoimmune diseases, as progressive with no chance of halting the damage. I agree that there is no cure but I KNOW that there is remission where we can stop or slow the destruction of our body and in some cases reverse some of the damage.
I respect my endocrinologist and believe he is very knowledgeable just not when it comes to alternative treatments for Hashimoto’s. On our first visit my low T3 levels didn’t send off a flag to him even though I was exhausted. It was in the “normal” range. I let him explain that I didn’t need to keep testing my antibodies as they will fluctuate but that didn’t mean anything. I listened as he talked about the probability of me getting other autoimmune diseases because I had Hashimoto’s.
I briefly talked about my gluten, dairy, grain free diet but could see that he wasn’t buying into it. I’ve learned that when I see a traditional specialist doctor I’m there for a specific test that my primary functional doctor thought would help us formulate a treatment for. I wasn’t there to change my treatment plan. I stopped talking and listened.
When he did my thyroid ultrasound he stated that it looked like swiss cheese and was very inflamed. He showed me how my thyroid looked then put the ultrasound on himself to show me how a healthy thyroid looked. Even though I can’t read an ultrasound it was clear to me the difference. I was very sad for my poor little thyroid but vowed that I would continue to take care of my body and find out what it was telling me.
My second visit was pretty much the same except we didn’t do an ultrasound. He said once a year would be enough. I was concerned about my hemoglobin A1C creeping up and he agreed with me. He was concerned about Type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disease. He said we would keep an eye on it which I appreciated.
My third visit was yesterday. He said my labs looked good even though my free T3 was still not in the optimal range for functional medicine. This range is in the upper 1/3 of the lab reference range. Unfortunately, traditional medicine says it’s normal as long as it’s in the reference range. The problem is that sick people were used to develop those reference ranges. This makes the ranges larger than they should be for feeling optimal.
I told him that I was feeling better which is the truth. I didn’t go into how I was healing from stage 3 adrenal fatigue which had a big impact on me feeling better because I didn’t want to hear how adrenal fatigue wasn’t really a thing. I did tell him about being diagnosed with pernicious anemia which is vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. Mine is caused by my body creating antibodies to intrinsic factor which is made in the stomach and necessary to absorb vitamin B12. This means that I can’t absorb oral B12 even in the active form of methylcobalamin. I have to give myself intramuscular injections weekly to keep my B12 levels up.
He was concerned with a second autoimmune disease and explained how Hashimoto’s and pernicious anemia were on the less severe end of the spectrum versus Lupus and MS which were on the severe end. He did say there isn’t really anything I could do to stop it but he was concerned.
He also was concerned that my hemoglobin A1c was still in the pre-diabetes range. He was still concerned that I may develop Type 1 diabetes. He said we would check for Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase Autoantibodies (GADA or Anti-GAD) on my next blood test in 6 months. This test looks for antibodies built against a specific enzyme in the pancreatic beta cells that produce insulin. If I had these then I would develop Type 1 Diabetes.
Great. I’d deal with that if it came out positive but right now I wanted to the ultrasound to see if my thyroid was still swiss cheese. We went in the ultrasound room and what we saw made us both happy.
There were no swiss cheese spots like last year. The doctor said there wasn’t any inflammation and that my thyroid looked like his. He said that if he didn’t know that I had Hashimoto’s he wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with my thyroid from the ultrasound. What??!!
He asked me what I was doing besides taking the meds. I smiled slyly and asked if he really wanted to know. He did so I told him about the diet and lifestyle interventions that I’ve done. His eye glazed over and I knew he didn’t want to hear it. I asked him why he thought that my thyroid looked so different. He didn’t have an answer for me. He was speechless.
The doctor may not buy into the diet and lifestyle changes making such an impact but I know they did it. My beautiful, whole butterfly shaped thyroid was proof. It wasn’t just letting the disease eat away at my thyroid that did it. It wasn’t just taking the meds. It wasn’t accepting that there was nothing I could do about it. It was taking responsibility that I had the power to help my body.
Don’t ever let anyone discourage you from listening to your instincts. Don’t stop working on ways to heal your body by feeding it well, resting it, providing extra nutrients and loving it. Not all conditions are curable. All conditions are manageable. We each need to define what manageable is to ourselves.
Leaving my endocrinologist speechless is a good definition for me for right now. J