After more than a month of email exchanges and anticipation, I finally met with my new doctor that I found on Paleo Physician’s Network.
And she’s awesome!
She spent over an hour with us, taking the time to explain things and ask relevant questions. You see, she’s actually a chiropractor, but that didn’t deter me in the least. After reading her impressive bio, I was sold. Her specialties include: Autoimmune disease, hormone imbalances, functional neurological deficits – right up my alley, right? Of course she isn’t completely against referring me to other doctors who can incorporate traditional treatment methods in with her methods, but I need to first know what is going on at a level that conventional doctors aren’t really willingly investigating. Her approach takes science and applies it to your individual needs as much as possible. No two individuals are the same, so it’s important to fine tune your treatment to your needs. Sometimes you can forego conventional medicine completely, sometimes you need it combined with diet modification and alternative treatments, such as supplementation and stress management.
I’m in the camp that says you do whatever it takes to fully heal. That means avoid putting band-aids on gaping wounds and investigate the underlying cause. Sometimes (re: almost always) the medical establishment as we know it is only interested in managing and suppressing symptoms. That might be acceptable under certain circumstances, but I’d rather get to the root of the problem and actually fix it.
She started by asking me lots of questions, like how was I delivered at birth, if I had siblings, and about my medical history. Then she did some neurological tests. I had to walk and recite every other letter of the alphabet, lol. Awkward.
Then we went over the results of my saliva hormone test and that’s when things got pretty interesting.
Not too good. While my testosterone is within range for my age and gender, the ratio compared to all the others actually makes it dominant. And my DHEA is nearly nonexistent, which is not good at all.
What is DHEA?
Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a steroid hormone synthesized from cholesterol and secreted by the adrenal glands. The adrenals are walnut-sized organs located right above your kidneys. The average adult makes about 25 mg of DHEA per day (some more, some less) with dwindling production as we get older. [continued…]
I have a fraction of the minimum optimal range!
Add adrenal fatigue to the list. Sigh.
But even this is only one part of the equation. Remember back in June when my other doc ran blood work and it came back with abnormalities showing that I’m anemic?
These are those results:
New doc had a copy of them that I faxed to her.
This all ties in together. I’m pretty sure this started with the hormonal imbalance because I haven’t always had digestive problems of this magnitude, but I have always had bizarre symptoms stemming back to infancy. Of course it’s impossible to know at this point without a time machine.
She explained that my anemia is directly related to my stomach’s inability to digest and heal properly and diet alone won’t be enough to correct this. A diet replete in nutrient-dense foods is always best, but my stomach won’t heal due to not getting the red blood cells it needs to repair.
My body is in a vicious cycle: Hormone derangement –> Heavy and lengthy Aunt Flo visits + fluid retention –> Anemia + nutrient deficiencies –> IBS and chronic sinus infection/congestion –> All other symptoms –> Repeat in an endless loop
All of these things are contributing to each other regardless of which came first.
So all of the times I tried (unsuccessfully) modifying my diet in hopes of finding a food trigger were basically in vain due to my hormones and anemia situation. She said there’s a hierarchy to correcting this and despite my IBS being the most prominent in my everyday life, it’s not first in line to be corrected. I have to correct my anemia and hormonal imbalance before my gut can heal. Although, she did give the go-ahead to start a GAPS diet if I want to but it won’t work as well as it should with all of these other problems.
The next course of action is more blood work. She wants to look at my thyroid and gave me the paperwork to take to Quest Diagnostics. This time she’s testing:
- Basic metabolic panel w/eGFR
- CHEM-SCREEN panel & HDL/TIBC
- CBC w/Diff
- Hemoglobin A1C
- T3, Total
- T3, Uptake
- TSH w/ Reflex to Free T4
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D
- TPO Ab
We have to figure out which type of anemia I have being there’s different types:
- Anemia caused by blood loss
- Anemia caused by decreased or faulty red blood cell production; e.g., Sickle cell anemia, iron-deficiency, vitamin deficiency, bone marrow problems, and etc.
Despite my dismal lab results, I still manage to do things like walk miles in NYC and function pretty well in day-to-day life. But I can’t help but wonder how much energy I’d have if all of my levels were optimal? If it can only get better than this, sign me up!
I’m SO happy that I found this doctor. She’s smart and funny and kind and update-to-date on all of her research. Did I mention she’s awesome? And young. OMG, seriously. She looks like should could have been in high school 2 years ago, lol. It’s remarkable how vested she is in actually healing people vs. the minimal input you get from many other doctors that only want to alleviate your symptoms. Dustin liked her too. He found her to be just as awesome as I did. He said to me, “When have we ever heard a doctor say ‘variables’?” haha Right on.
Like I said, she gave me the go-ahead to start GAPS because it certainly couldn’t hurt, but it won’t exactly fix everything, either. So while we run more tests and tackle the problems in order of importance I’m probably going to do a customized combination of full-GAPS/Paleo/Primal/WAPF/ Dr. Wahls’ Diet to get as much nutrition into me as possible. I’m not going to do the GAPS intro phase just yet. I think my body is under enough stress, so I’m just going to stick to nutrient-dense foods and do a few weeks of the intro if and when the time comes for it. However, I am going to follow some of the protocol for GAPS intro by incorporating bone broths into my diet.
I know it seems like I am jumping around like crazy with my food intake, but now that I finally have more answers I know that I shouldn’t be frustrated when changing my diet doesn’t help like I expect it to. All of the other variables that interfere with and complicate and contribute to my digestive problems must be dealt with first and foremost.
Direction: It feels good to have it!
I’ll get into my diet plans in my next post. I need to sleep now…