Many of us with autoimmune diseases have been told that we are “crazy,” a “hypochondriac, or “It’s all in your head,” by doctors, myself included. A friend of mine recently shared that she has been losing weight like crazy even though she was eating regularly and unable to figure out why. Instead of the doctor admitting that he did not know what was going on, he refused to run any more tests and labeled her “anorexic.” Over the past few weeks, I have heard more and more stories very similar to this. Hearing this really frustrates me because I’ve been there. I get it.
Advocating for myself has been a learning experience. Like so many others, for over a year I was told that my labs looked, “normal” and that everything was “in range” by conventional doctors despite feeling awful. I then attempted to advocate for myself by asking to switch to a different thyroid medication that I had researched. The doctor laughed at my request and said, “That one doesn’t work.” This was my last straw and I had had enough. I knew there had to be a better way.
So how do we ensure that we get the best care possible? Here are 3 ways to advocate for yourself when going to any doctor:
- FIRE your doctor.
That’s right. I said it. No doctor knows everything (that goes for specialists too). There are a ton of different doctors out there. All with different backgrounds, training, perspectives, and philosophies. If you leave an appointment feeling like you didn’t accomplish anything or you weren’t heard, its time to move on.I thank my lucky stars for naturopathic medicine every day. Who knows what state my health would be in if I didn’t fire my previous doctors.
2. Do your research
This does not mean to self diagnose. When I was at my sickest, I started using Pinterest, blogs, and following medical professionals on social media to learn as much as I could about how to holistically heal my body. It is still important to work with a medical professional. However, it is essential you come to your appointments prepared with questions and tests you would like run. I recommend requesting these thyroid labs: TSH, free T3, T4, TPO antibodies, and TGAb anti-thyroglobulin antibodies If your doctor dismisses these questions or belittles you, see #1 above.
3. Make a list
I am still learning to do this one. Make a list of your symptoms, specific tests that you want run, and questions you have prior to your appointment. As someone with an autoimmune disease, I know the second I get into the doctors office, my brain fog kicks in and I forget all of my symptoms and things I wanted to ask. Write them down! I have mine on a word doc, but keeping a journal might be helpful as well so that you can continuously look back and really see how much progress you have made in your symptoms etc.
The goal of this blog is to help those who were once in my shoes. No one deserves to feel unheard or dismissed. After all, who knows your body best? YOU DO! Advocate for yourself and get the help and treatment you deserve!
***Disclaimer*** This information is based on my own personal experiences. I am not a medical professional. Please consult with a medical and/or healthcare professional before before treating or diagnosing any illness.