How to Stay Well as a Thyroid Patient

The Secret Sauce of Thyroid Success

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fWhen you have a chronic illness like thyroid disease, it's easy to blame doctors who don't listen or run the right tests, insurance that won't cover the needed blood work, medicines that don't work, and diets that aren't helping you lose weight, and so on. But it's important to do some soul-searching, and take a look at whether your attitude is holding your back in being on the path towards wellness. Because the crux of it is an important decision that as a patient, YOU need to make. Only you can choose to be on a path towards wellness.

I know that some of you will immediately have a negative reaction -- "I'm not choosing to be sick," "I want to be well," "but the doctors aren't doing what I need," "nothing I'm doing works," "the medication isn't helping." But it's important to keep the faith that you will eventually find the doctors, treatments, and approaches that will be effective for you, and to focus on moving forward. 

Do you know what it looks like to choose wellness? Let's take a look.

You Are Willing to Make the Effort and Sacrifices Needed to Find the Right Doctor

I know that finding the right thyroid doctor can be daunting, and sometimes seems impossible. But it is one of the most important things you can do. If you see the signs that you need a new doctor, it's time to move on. You won't get well if you stay with an uncaring doctor who doesn't take your symptoms seriously, and is not collaborating with you to help you get well. You can't worry about whether the doctor will be insulted, or what the doctor will think of you. It's your decision. You are the customer.

At the same time, the right doctor for you may not be on your insurance program or part of your HMO or be close by or have convenient hours. The right doctor for your thyroid care may NOT be an endocrinologist. This is another decision you have to make. Can you save up to see a cash practice doctor who specializes in thyroid care? Can you drive a few hours to see a recommended practitioner? You will probably have to make some sacrifices in order to find the right doctor.

You Communicate Well With Your Doctor

If you are taking over-the-counter supplements -- including thyroid support supplements, not taking your prescription medications correctly, self-medicating with prescription medications, drinking too much, smoking, or using drugs, your doctor needs to know in order to be able to help you. Many patients feel afraid or embarrassed to share this information, but these issues can have a huge impact on your treatment. Make sure have this conversation with your doctor, so that he or she can work with you to troubleshoot your treatment, and make the best possible decisions about your health.

Also, remember that you can't just walk in to a doctor's office and start demanding particular drugs or tests, or hand over a stack of printouts to read during the appointment, and expect to have a good working relationship with your doctor. These are just a few of the things thyroid patients should never say to the doctor.

You Stay Informed and Empowered

Most doctors -- even the best cash-practice thyroid experts who don't have to operate under the "HMO 7-minute rule" or see dozens of patients a day in order to pay the bills -- have limited time. This means that they may not have time to explain every facet of the diagnosis and treatment process to you. They may also not have time to stay up on all the latest developments. It may not sound fair, but that means that part of your job as a patient is to stay informed.

Read medical journals, be a "Googler" and find reliable information about your health condition, and be your own thyroid advocate. Also, remember that not all doctors respect empowered, knowledgeable patients. If your doctor can't handle it, it's time to find one who will.

Join an online support group. My Facebook Thyroid Support group is a good place to start.

You Are Finding Your "Secret Sauce"

Getting well requires that you find your own "secret sauce" -- that unique mix of things that together, will help you feel well. Some of these things include:

Start thinking what's in your own secret sauce, what to add, and the mix of efforts you are making to be well. Are you spending your energy blaming others for your situation, or are you using your energy to fight for the right doctor and treatments, and to make the lifestyle choices that can put you on the path toward feeling and living well.