Friday, November 8, 2013

Doc Says Go Paleo

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Okay, she's not really a doctor. She's an holistic nurse practitioner who performed our annual physicals so that hubby's work would pay for our health insurance premiums. It took me over 4 hours to find the doctor she works with because Cigna's online listing showed over 400 family practice physicians that specialize in pediatrics.

Calling the phone number on our insurance card was a nightmare. The computer voice just kept saying, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you." That's because I got angry. Speaking to a real life representative wasn't an option it gave me. Eventually, I screamed at the computer voice that I wanted to speak to real live person. A lot of good that did me. "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. Let's try again."

Somehow, I finally ended up with a live person, but I don't remember how. She wasn't very helpful. She kept insisting that there were over 400 doctors within a 20-mile radius from us. Doctors, yes. Someone who was willing to do our annual physicals? NO!!! So she weeded out the pediatricians and came up with 4 doctors for me.

I picked the closest one. It turned out to be an Urgent Care facility. The doctor in question has two offices. One in the city we live in, and one a few miles north of us. They were willing to see us that very day, so we jumped at the chance. Physicals do not have to be performed by a doctor. A nurse practitioner will do. That's what they did with us. We saw an holistic nurse practitioner.

I Asked to Have My Thyroid Tested

We were not fasting, so we had to go back again the following morning for blood work. Cigna requires us to input our cholesterol numbers among other statistics when we take their online health survey every year. The nurse practitioner wasn't there that day. The assistant who draws blood simply asked us which tests the insurance company wanted run.

Cigna only wanted cholesterol tests, but something the nurse had asked me the day before about my skin, hair, and nails encouraged me to ask the assistant to run my thyroid. Since I've gained quite a bit of weight over the past couple of years and have a lot of hypothyroid symptoms, I thought it would be a good idea to have them test my thyroid again.

I wasn't hopeful though. Most general practitioners won't do anything unless your TSH exceeds 5.0, but since it was only 1.2 the last time I had it checked, I would at least know if my current diet was making things worse or not.

Thyroid Test Results

The test result was rather shocking. TSH was LESS THAN .10!!!

That didn't make any sense to me, since my symptoms have always been hypothyroid, and my maintenance level of calories keeps going down not up.

But after doing a little bit of research online, I discovered that some people with Hashimoto's Disease have a low TSH. Once damaged by an autoimmune attack, the thyroid can leak hormones into the blood, which the pituitary gland will interpret as the thyroid over-reacting. The pituitary gland is the gland that secrets TSH in order to alert the thyroid to what's going on.

In addition, some people with Hashimoto's Disease also go into overdrive whenever they eat gluten or iodine. That would include being accidentally glutened, which does happen to me now and then. Gluten's molecular structure is similar to the thyroid's molecular structure and the immune system can get confused and start attacking the thyroid.

BUT, my TSH history said something different.

My TSH History

Many years ago, I had to have a physical for work. That doctor said I had an enlarged thyroid gland and that I needed to have it checked out right away. I made an appointment with my doctor, but to him, my thyroid did not feel enlarged. TSH came back 4.9, which was just under what I needed to receive treatment from him, so he didn't do anything about it.

When I came down with vertigo, that doctor also checked out my thyroid, but only my TSH. He didn't run any antibody tests or even specific hormones such as T4 and T3. TSH at that time was 2.0, so I thought a relaxed low-carb diet had corrected whatever was wrong.

My latest test was 1.2, after doing a serious low-carb diet and losing 100 pounds, so it still looked good to me. In fact, my last doctor told me I was the healthiest patient she had ever seen. But that wasn't true.

What's Going On Now

The problem was that each of these thyroid tests had been performed by different doctors, so they were not able to see the sliding scale that was occurring. None of those doctors were interested in my TSH history, because they were not very knowledgeable about the thyroid, but the nurse practitioner was. Her suspicion is a problem with my pituitary gland, possibly some form of thyroid disease, and maybe even adrenal issues. Going from 4.9 to 2.0 to 1.2 to less than .10 points to pituitary problems, because my TSH should be extremely high.

Going Paleo?

I had a lot of blood drawn yesterday, so it's a waiting game at this point. But as we were walking out the door together, the nurse told me that there were some things that I could do for myself right away. "Let's talk about your diet," she said. 

I don't know WHY practitioners always assume your diet is bad if you're fat. I've been on a whole foods diet for as long as I can remember. 

"If you want a healthy diet with recipes available online," she continued, "The Paleo Diet is the best there is."

That surprised me. I didn't expect her to say that. I expected to hear her tell me to cut out processed foods, sugar, and stuff like that. Things I was already doing. When I told her that I was already familiar with that type of diet, she grew a bit excited. But the conversation ended there.

I didn't want to go into it with her.

There is no way hubby is going to go for another restrictive diet, especially a very expensive one. The logic behind which foods are healthy to eat and which foods are not does not make any sense to us. But I'll talk about the issues we have with Paleo in the next post, and maybe someone can help me understand it better than I currently do.


Anonymous said...

Dear Vickie, I do think you are going to find the answer to your condition. The good news is your getting closer. Have a blesses day!

Vickie Ewell said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, reading, and commenting. I really hope you are right. I've been sick for far too long now.