Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Trip to the Health Food Store

Why can't we all just get along? This was my thought after I made a trip to my local health food store the other day and had a conversation that irked me.

I walked up to my local health food store to look for something that helps stabilize blood sugar or even helps with sugar/carb cravings (if such a product even exists!). I asked the health food store people and they directed me to a product called Just Barley. They told me green barley juice extract is very good for you, helps cut sugar/carb cravings, stabilizes blood sugars and is even endorsed by the American Diabetes Association (not sure if that's true or not). Hmm...I'll take a bottle! (I'll keep you updated if it actually helps!)

The thing that bothered me was when I asked if the product interacts with prescription meds such as thyroid medication.

Aging Hippie: "What are you on?"
Me: "Synthroid"

Aging Hippie: "Why are you taking that?"
Me: "Uh, I have an autoimmune underactive thyroid."

Aging Hippie: "You're too young to have that/be on that stuff! You're going to have side effects if you live another 40 years..."
(something like that; I can't remember how he said it, but something to the effect that if the life expectancy is 78, and I have another 40 years, then that's a long time on Synthroid).

Aging Hippie: "There's plenty of natural remedies to help support thyroid, like Armour Thyroid."
Me: "Um, yeah I know all about that stuff. Been there and tried to get that. Most doctors won't prescribe it because they say it's unstable.  I can't afford all the products and I'm doing okay on Synthroid."

Why I couldn't think of more clever comebacks was beyond me. I just end up being speechless, sheepish and agreeable because I fear conflict like I fear Lady Gaga.

So, luckily the conversation ended soon with me saying "I'll keep all that in mind, thanks."

I was flabbergasted how pushy he was. I wish I would have asked "oh, are YOU a doctor? a naturopathic physician?" It really was none of his business whatsoever and how just because there's a lot of stuff out there that's labeled "natural" or "herbal" does not make it safe!

I used to be on his side. I distrusted the medical community at large and felt like I've been messed with like a junior high science experiment gone bad. I've been there. I've been on the side of alternative medicine and I've been on the other side of conventional medicine.

I honestly don't know who is right and I'm tired of the pointing fingers. I don't know who to trust.
There is a lot of truth on both sides and I wish conventional doctors and naturopathic doctors would work together to help people to optimize their health.

I have been to alternative med people and I was helped, but because of money and circumstances could not continue treatment. Also, the practitioner I was seeing was also moving away and so was I (this was about 8 years ago once upon a time when I lived in North Carolina, but that is a whole different story.)

I also have been to a medical doctor here in Pittsburgh that treats people using alternative medicine and he thought that my being on Synthroid was fine and that he liked what my endocrinologist was doing to keep a tight rein on my thyroid levels (while I was pregnant with my son.) Unfortunately, I quit going to him because it was extremely expensive and he wanted me to take a million supplements that also cost a lot (plus appointments were difficult to get).

Money is a big factor when it comes to these types of treatments. It is very expensive and it seems that you have to buy a ton of supplements and you wonder if it's really going to help you, plus it's not covered under insurance. You have to wonder if it's just a big money-making machine.

On the other hand, I have been through some pretty crummy doctors with horrible bedside manners who just ignored me and threw a bunch of pills at me. That's not the answer either.

Right now, I am lucky to have found a pretty decent endocrinologist who has maintained my thyroid levels and helped me achieve a healthy pregnancy with James. Not all doctors are the same, and sometimes they are not to blame. Insurance companies and hospital administrative politics can really pull the wrong strings when it trickles down to the doctors. Also, they are human just like us. They are not God...which is good because I believe ultimately, He is the Great Physician!

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