By Lisa St. Ledger
“We don’t know a lot about autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s,” my endocrinologist explained. “You are on the best treatment available.” Her diagnosis slowly began to sink in through the brain fog. At that moment, extreme fatigue was preventing me from safely driving to my daughter’s evening sporting events. I was also experiencing weight gain, hair loss, anxiety, among other things. I was in my late 40’s and the idea of spending the rest of my life continuing to deteriorate to this relentless thyroid condition was unimaginable. In the 2 hour drive home from UVA, I experienced a myriad of emotions from depression to helplessness to anger. It was on that drive that I finally realized that no one was going to help me recover. I needed to forge my own path of wellness.
Here are five steps to forge your own path to wellness:
Research: Research to understand the medical physiology as it pertains to your condition. For me, I needed to fully understand a functioning thyroid, pituitary, adrenal glands, all of the associated hormones, and how they interact with each other.
You need to know how a normal body functions and the how and why your body has jumped off the tracks.
Take notes and learn the medical terminology so that you can intelligently converse with your healthcare provider.
Find Published and Online Experts: Finding experts who have thoroughly researched your condition will help to grow your understanding.
Start by researching the expert to determine if they are truly an expert and someone whose advice you can trust.
Does their treatment philosophy match your ideal treatment plan?
Once you have determined that they are a good match for you, then read their books and blogs. Oftentimes, they will suggest root causes of your condition to determine how you got to where you are so that you can improve or reverse your situation. They will also suggest alternative treatment plans that might work for you.
Join Facebook groups: There are Facebook groups for just about everything these days.
It is comforting to read posts by other people who are experiencing the same thing and what they did to improve.
You can post questions about your latest struggle to elicit feedback.
It is also a great place to find out about the latest treatment trends.
I always view this advice as “water cooler gossip” and never take Facebook group advice without doing my own research to validate the claims. For example, salt is very important for people with adrenal issues and I recently saw a post about the toxins in pink himalayan salt. I did my own research and couldn’t believe that it could be filled with toxins depending on the source.
Build your Healthcare Team: Think beyond just one doctor to manage your health condition. I balance care between my primary care physician, my nutritionist and my integrative specialist. Each has a different perspective that contributes to my overall wellbeing. It creates a nice balance between conventional care and integrative care.
Create a Diet Plan: Food and supplements can greatly impact your overall health. Every person has a unique response to different foods which is why one diet may work for your best friend but not for you. Different foods and supplements can also support your body’s path to healing. Finding your unique diet and supplement regime is crucial to feeling better.
After forging my own path to wellness, I have improved greatly. The extreme fatigue has subsided as well as the brain fog and anxiety. My hair has grown back and I’ve stopped the weight gain. I shudder to think if I had walked out of my endocrinologist’s office that day accepting the diagnosis.
Action step for today: Think about your health condition and set goals of how you want to feel. What does your perfect path to wellness look like? How are you going to forge your path to wellness?
Lisa St. Ledger: Growing up on a hundred acre family orchard and farm, Lisa learned critical thinking skills which she has applied to her career as an educator. For over 35 years, she has designed and developed curriculum for numerous educational programs helping students to achieve their best potential. Using her Masters in Educational Research, she empowers her students to be problem solvers and savvy consumers of information. She is excited to embrace this opportunity to inspire strong women to forge their own path forward.