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Thyroid Power: Ten Steps to Total Health

by Richard L. Shames and Karilee Halo Shames


Step 2
Learn How Low Thyroid Makes Any Illness Worse

We have now, crossed a threshold to the point where we can effectively diagnose and treat your fatigue.
-- Jacob Teitelbaum M.D., From Fatigued to Fantastic

Could symptoms that seem like low thyroid actually be a result of another low-energy disease? Of course. Could these same symptoms actually be from a combination of low thyroid and some other energy-sapping disease? Certainly. There are many additional causes of fatigue and marginal health, each requiring a different treatment.

Coexistent low thyroid can worsen any other illness, and-interestingly enough-the opposite is also true. To achieve lasting improvement, you may have to treat more than one condition at a time. It is critical that you obtain a full and complete diagnosis and treat in the appropriate order all conditions that may be contributing to your health dilemma. While simple low energy is often a common condition with an easy resolution, it can sometimes be maddeningly deceptive and hard to diagnose.

The first, critical step is to find a qualified health care practitioner with whom to collaborate. You have a right, as a health consumer, to fully understand your condition, to hear the range of possible treatments, and to assess their benefits and detriments prior to making any decisions. Ultimately, it is you who must direct your journey toward health. Achieving a proper diagnosis is a critical beginning step that can save years of pain and anguish.

Finding a Doctor Who Understands
As health professionals, we are extremely supportive of personal empowerment and self-care. However, in addition to books, friends, and the Internet, it is essential to secure the help of a trained professional. A good practitioner can properly assist you in diagnosing the true cause of marginal health or significant low energy, saving you years of distress, unnecessary treatments, expense, and hardship.

A knowledgeable practitioner takes a complete history, listening carefully to nuances and identifying patterns. Then, he or she performs the proper physical examination and orders appropriate laboratory tests to ascertain exactly what kind of low energy you have so as to accurately determine which treatments will be most helpful. Don't sell yourself short. Make sure from the beginning to have your condition properly diagnosed.

Since low energy is a very common problem, many doctors hear this complaint often and have a standard, preset way of approaching it. Generally, if the fatigue does not seem severe to the practitioner, he or she will simply offer some reassurance. This can take the form of a little pep talk that acknowledges the financial squeeze people may be feeling, the hectic pace of modern life, and the difficulty in getting enough exercise, proper diet, and rest.

If you want to get beyond the simple pep talk, you will need to be very dear about how to present your symptoms to your physician. Write down everything that bothers you and the degree to which it interferes with your life. List the associated difficulties, if any, and describe as objectively as possible how the productivity in your life is being affected. If you feel noticeably less productive at work than you did a couple of years ago, make a note of this, and be specific.

If you have trouble getting started in the morning and arrive late at the office, mention that. If it used to take one cup of coffee to get started, and it now takes three, indicate this. If you can only get to your job site with great difficulty, dragging yourself out of bed and through the morning routine, definitely mention it. Explain what an imposition this is on the quality and enjoyment of your life. If you run out of steam at three or four p.m. but still have to work several more hours, describe briefly how hard this is for you, and what a sense of limitation you are feeling. If you can make it through the day but have no energy for evening activities, even enjoyable ones such as dinner and a movie, then mention how this "disability" is causing you some real distress and concern.

If other people are suffering in some way because of your fatigue, such as a spouse, children, or elderly loved ones who need more care and attention than you can provide, mention that dearly and objectively. Describe the emotions this lack of energy may be causing in terms of anger, frustration, or even despair. Make it apparent how much aggravation and irritation low energy is causing in your life. Try to quantify how your daily life is different from a few months or years ago. Try to pinpoint when and how your health began to change. Keep records that can portray the problem, even creating visual graphs if necessary to demonstrate changes in your health and ability to perform or enjoy your life.

It is imperative that, as a health consumer, you direct the course of the appointment with your health provider. The more assertive, clear, and focused you can be, the more likely you are to have your needs met in a timely and satisfactory fashion. Most people find it advantageous to write down questions prior to their appointment, even prioritizing their concerns so that if they run out of time, the major considerations will have been addressed. If you do not understand something you are being told or asked to do, don't be embarrassed to ask questions and get your needs met. Remember, you are your own best health advocate in these situations.

If you have obtained information from friends or websites related to your condition, it would be a good idea to share this with your practitioner to obtain further input. In these instances, be alert to the response of your practitioner. If your doctor acts as if your questions are a bother or doesn't answer directly, consider whether you are receiving optimal treatment. Thyroid Power .

Copyright © by Richard Shames. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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