Active Adulting

I don’t remember becoming an adult. When I say “becoming an adult,” I don’t mean turning 18; but rather the point in my life when I realized that the responsibility for managing my life belongs to no one else. The benefits and consequences of daily decisions that fall on me alone. Maturity is knowing when to accept advice and when to disregard well-meaning opinions. Discerning the difference is where it gets tricky.

adult dreams 2017-04-25 at 8.58.35 PM 2There will always be someone who thinks they know you or your situation better than you.  I think as we mature it is easier to appreciate when someone has solid recommendations, but also realize we don’t need to follow this instruction without consideration. Autonomous adults glean what is relevant and discard what is not. I sometimes need to remind myself that tweaking an idea is not disrespectful; adaptation makes it more personal, useful and meaningful to me.

Trials, trauma and health issues can debilitate self-trust making it easier to ignore our gut instinct. Dependency might be okay for a short while but ultimately these phases should be about gaining introspection and knowledge rather than relinquishing control. Recognizing that you do not have all the answers does not make you weak, it means you are willing to push beyond your own understanding. Realizing that experts don’t always know what is best for you is paramount to proper self-care. I learned this lesson first hand and will never again relinquish control of my health (or any other area of my life) simply because someone else is supposed to be an authority.

Six years ago, I was having some serious health issues. I was extremely overweight, tired all the time and my emotions were closer to that of a 14-year-old hormonal female. I struggled with exercise because of full body joint pain. Prevalent brain fog, exacerbated by insomnia and a poor diet, made any decision challenging. Hell, my whole life was challenging! I was too tired to try to figure things out and although my multiple physical issues terrified me, I didn’t care. It was too overwhelming.

I went to my doctor in complete desperation. Initially, they prescribed Prozac, which leveled out my moods, but the brain fog and joint pain persisted plus I gained more weight. Eventually I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed a synthetic medication that alleviated some of the brain fog yet I was still overweight, exhausted and lacked vitality. I was in my early 40’s but felt 90. At one point the doctor told me I had arthritis. I didn’t realize it at the time but you need to have x-rays to accurately diagnose regular arthritis and he had never ordered x-rays. This is when my gut kicked in… “Something is not right about this.”

I didn’t care about anything I used to love; it was too hard to write, read or hike. Spending time with my son and enjoying his company took every ounce of my willpower since I preferred spending every day in bed hiding from the world. Thankfully the synthetic thyroid medication gave me just enough mental boost to be able to start researching my symptoms and eventually find a way out of my illness.

The first resource I found was a community of individuals who all dealt with thyroid issues. The website Stop the Thyroid Madness was my yellow brick road to health. This site started me on a pathway that became a battle with the narrow-minded medical professionals I had been trusting. I started educating myself on hypothyroidism. Once upon a time individuals who suffered from thyroid dysfunction used a natural full spectrum medication; but Big Pharma pushed it out for the more profitable synthetic version. Some people do well on the synthetic, but not everyone, and I was not getting better so I wanted to try the natural thyroid prescription.

I went to my doctor’s office armed with a book and loads of information. I expected to be allowed (Yes, allowed!) to try this new/old medication. I remember sitting in the examining room both excited and scared. I felt like a child asking for permission to go to the prom. But, instead of them celebrating my proactive self-care, I was met with hostility and anger. The physician’s assistant reluctantly agreed to let me try a natural thyroid medication, but not without the condescending remark that, this medication was out of date and only used by “83-year-old women who refused to switch to the synthetic brand.” I had to go for more blood tests first, which would take several days.  I was out of the synthetic prescription and was feeling worse than ever. The anxiety about my decision, going against the PA’s suggestion and my inability to function led to a complete melt-down.

In the midst of this conflict a co-worker had recommended a nurse practitioner, Rana. Her private medical practice New Beginnings Healthcare for Women did not take any insurance, so was not restricted by the usual limitations that apply to most doctors. I was worried about the out-of-pocket cost but when I calculated how much I had paid in co-pays, useless prescriptions and bad diagnoses over the years the price was about the same.

Within a week of my first visit to Rana’s office armed with a natural thyroid medication and adrenal supporting vitamin’s most of my symptoms were gone, including the joint pain. Within two years I had dropped the weight and gained abundant energy. I am still able to maintain a healthy weight and energy to participate in all the activities I love because I found a practitioner who understood that I needed a partner in my healthcare, not a dictator.

Adult accountability is the moral of this story. I made a choice to assume responsibility for my health. I questioned the professionals. I did my own research. I got a second opinion. I listened to my gut. Had I not made the choice to fight for my health I might still be 80 lbs (or more!) overweight and in an eternal fog. Had I maintained the idea that the medical professionals knew best I might still be very sick.

A strong word of caution: This is my story and not yours. I am not suggesting that your doctor is giving you wrong information or that if you follow my steps you will obtain the same results. I strongly believe that many of diets and “cures” available may work for some but they won’t work for all. You need to do the work and discover what is best for you, your health and your symptoms. You need to be responsible for your own life and discover the path that leads to your best health.

Note: I am not and will not receive any compensation for the links provided in this article.