Gail's Thyroid Tips
DOCTORS

A word about T3 and thyroid hormone in general. The body
will DIE without this hormone. This is not merely a quality of
life issue. We’re talking about life and death. If you have
high free T4 levels and low free T3 levels, you are not
healthy. If you have been taking thyroid medication for years
and still feel awful, you are not just miserable---you are
dying. The cells in your body are being deprived of a
hormone they need and they will die without it. You must get
your medication changed! Don’t put up with it any longer! If
your doctor brushes you off and tells you that "all thyroid
patients feel bad because their disease is incurable," he’s
WRONG! I was, literally, at death’s door and now I feel
WONDERFUL again.

But to get myself feeling this way I didn’t put up with the
doctors. I went through TEN doctors before finding
someone who would listen to me and take care of me. Oh,
doctor #8 listened to my complaints and felt very sorry for
me and how I felt, but all he did was to offer me Prozac and
insist that since I had "normal" bloodwork (high T4 and low
T3, but still within normal ranges so who cares?), I must
have some other disease rather than hypothyroidism. He
concluded my thyroid was managed fine and we should look
for lupus or arthritis etc. And you know, as nice of a man as
he was and as much as he cared about me, I left him. I was
not getting the problem addressed so I left. Dr. #9 gave me
Armour, but not enough, so I left him too.

I cannot stress enough the importance of changing doctors.
I know all about the financial concerns and the fact that your
insurance will pay only for this or that. The same is true for
me. The doctor I see now is not in my insurance plan but I
have my health back and no longer sit at death’s door. I
think that’s worth the money I pay out of pocket.

Obviously, you are thinking the same thing I was thinking
when I started going outside my insurance plan. "How do I
find a good doctor without driving hither and yon, paying all
these fees and then finding out that the guy’s no good
anyway?" This is exactly what I was wondering. So how did
I find Dr. Perfect on the first venture outside my insurance?
Well, I started by phoning the doctors in my insurance plan
and asking which ones used Armour or some other natural
hormone. If the nurse was reluctant to say or blew me off, I
told her flat-out "Listen, I need a doctor who knows all
about Armour because I have used synthroid, it doesn’t
work on me, and my doctor says I HAVE to use Armour! He
just wants a second opinion on how to adjust the dose. If
this doctor does not use Armour, then he will not be
qualified to adjust my dosages and it will be a waste of both
his and my time to set up an appt with him." This statement
usually resulted in the nurse going straight to the doctor and
asking him if he would use Armour.

When I didn’t find a doctor inside my insurance (yeah, all the
ones in my plan use synthroid….), I checked Mary Shomon’
s Top Doc list (http://thyroid.about.
com/health/thyroid/library/weekly/bldoc1.htm) to see if there
was anyone on it from this town. There wasn’t. So I began
calling all the doctors in my town and asking them if they
use Armour. This is a small town and they all use synthroid
too. So then I moved on to the Top Doc list, knowing I was
going to have to drive a ways for treatment. Now, you may
be interested to know that one of the doctors on the Top
Doc list is actually in my insurance plan, but I did not choose
him! Why? Because his nurse said on the phone that he
uses synthroid and cytomel together and does not like
Armour and will not use it or prescribe it for me. He refuses
to have anything to do with it; he is devoted to synthroid and
cytomel. Well, I knew he couldn’t help me then. I had
already found all the research about T2 and decided that it
was important to my health. And I knew it was making me
feel better than I ever felt on Synthroid. I did not want to
give up my Armour just to go see a man in my insurance
plan. Also, my sister was taking huge amounts of levoxyl
and cytomel and was not much better off than me. As a
matter of fact, once I got onto Armour, I was doing better
than she was, even though I was taking only a small dose
and needed more.

So I skipped over that doctor and read up about all the
other Top Docs in this section of the country. I looked
specifically for doctors who were listed as using Armour. I
found several, actually. How did I choose? Well, Dr. Dean
was closest (130 miles away) and also was listed as
preferring to use natural remedies before resorting to drugs.
His listing also stated that he searches for the cause of your
symptoms so he can eliminate the problem rather than just
treating the symptoms. This really sounded good to me. I
noticed that a lot of Top Docs are listed as "going by the
book with tests" or "ordering lots of tests" and I’m not so
sure that’s the answer. I had had tons of tests and was still
not cured. I wanted a doctor who would acknowledge that I
still had physical symptoms even though my TSH had come
down to only 0.3 and my T4 and T3 were "normal." So I
read these listings looking for a doctor who "prescribes
Armour" and "relies on symptoms" rather than tests. Then I
called Dr. Dean’s office and asked flat-out if he relies on
TSH or if he is interested in a patient’s clinical health. She
said he is very interested in your symptoms and actually has
you fill out a long questionnaire to take a measure of your
clinical health.

Another very good thing to search for when seeking a new
doctor is someone who is listed as practicing
"complementary," "alternative," "integrative," or "holistic"
medicine. These are the doctors most likely to prescribe
natural thyroid and who will treat your adrenal imbalances
as well. These are the types of doctors who are most likely
to try to make your body balanced and optimized throughout
rather than just ANYWHERE in some reference range on a
lab test. I spent a year dying on synthroid because my TSH,
T4, and T3 were all "in the range." Never mind that the T4
was all the way at the top of normal while the T3 was all the
way at the very bottom of the range and I was a walking
textbook of hypothyroid symptoms (a typical profile for
someone who is not converting T4 into T3). Those numbers
fit some profile from some lab so that is all that mattered.
Once I found a more holistic doctor, I got my health
repaired. He had a lot to say to me, as a matter of fact,
about how too many doctors will treat problems only when
the numbers are below or above the lab range. He said that
he isn’t happy to see my cortisol levels at the bottom end of
normal. He knows people feel best when the cortisol levels
are right in the middle of the range all day long.

My doctor, in case any of you are interested, is Dr. Charles
Dean of Oglethorpe GA. He is on the Top Doc list if you live
anywhere near here and would like to see him. The person
who sent in that listing messed up the area code; his phone
number is actually (478)472-2550. He’s wonderful. He
started out in pharmacy school back when they taught
herbal medicine, so he is thoroughly grounded in natural
remedies. Then the drug revolution came along so he is
thoroughly grounded in that area as well. And then he
became a doctor so he knows all about that too. He’s really
good! If you don’t live near him and are looking for a doctor,
maybe my experience will help you too. Find someone who
prescribes Armour and is listed as going by symptoms as
opposed to testing.  In addition, you might try calling Dr.
Dean's office to ask if he knows of a good doctor in your
area.  I can't promise that he will, but he was able to
recommend a doctor to one of the women who posted me
asking for help.

By the way, I recently had a comprehensive thyroid work-up
and the results would give most doctors a heart attack. My
TSH was 0, my T4 was mid-range, and my T3 was off the
top of the range, well above "normal." The antibody levels
were sky-high on both types (Dr. Dean said he has never
seen levels that high in anyone). Most doctors would freak
out at those high T3 levels and immediately take away my
medication. Not Dr. Dean. He instead said "your T4 level
could be a little higher and while this T3 level is high, you
show no signs at all of hyPERthyroid symptoms. I believe
you have a lot of cellular resistance and also these high
antibody levels are interfering with the use of your hormone.
Your T3 is high because your body is having trouble using it
in the tissues so it is staying in your blood. With your T4
only at mid-range, we have the option of increasing your
dosage further if you still have any hypo symptoms at all, as
long as you show no signs of hyPER symptoms." Can you
believe it? Dr. Dean is a dream come true and I feel
wonderful!

A tip for interacting with doctors and getting them to listen
to you:

One way I help get good results is this: as the doctor
begins his examination, I make comments about how "I’m
really looking forward to some solutions with you. My last
doctor is a really great guy, but he didn’t test my adrenals
even though I have the classic signs of adrenal dysfunction.
And as you know, hypothyroidism regularly leads to
hypoadrenalism. I wish to have an all-day adrenal test
because of course, as you well know, cortisol levels are
highest in the morning so an 8 AM test won’t show if my
adrenals are working properly at the end of the day."

When you talk to him, make comments about what you
know but say it like "of course he knows" this and that. I get
much better results when I say "and as you well know,
thyroid disease leads to adrenal dysfunction" instead of
saying "I read that thyroid disease leads to adrenal
dysfunction." See the difference? The first sentence tells
him that of course you’re positive he already knows
everything. The second sentence implies that you have read
something that you think he doesn’t know. He won’t want to
hear that! The last thing a doctor wants to hear is that the
patient knows more than he does.

This technique works! You just keep telling him everything
you have learned (that he may very well not know) but you
give him credit for knowing all this. And he’ll love it! Yeah,
there’ll be some doctors this won’t work on, but most of
them lap it up and will run all the tests you want if you use
this diplomacy. Build him up; make him feel good. He’ll work
better for you if you do.

Of course, the best doctor is like my Doctor #9. I would
take him reams of articles and studies I’d gotten off the ‘net
and he would eagerly xerox them. Every time I saw him, the
first thing he’d ask is how I feel and the second was "do you
have any more research for me today?" He said that he
wanted to learn as much as possible and didn’t have as
much time as he’d like, so he was glad I shared my
research with him. You may wonder why I didn’t stay with
Dr. #9. Actually, I recommended him for Top Doc status
and he is on Mary Shomon’s list. He is wonderful. But right
after I sent in his name, his commander (he’s military)
slammed him for switching me to Armour. On Synthroid, my
T4 was jammed high against the very top of the reference
range and my T3 was at the very bottom (the lowest
number you can have and still be "normal"). And my TSH
was only 0.3. So obviously I was cured, right? All the
bloodwork was "normal," after all. So Dr. #9 got in trouble
for switching me to an "antiquated" drug (Armour) and
taking me off of the Gold Standard Synthroid…. You aren’t
supposed to change meds if the patient is "cured!" He was
forbidden to treat me anymore no matter how he argued
with his commander; at my next appt with him, he just gave
me a referral slip and said I had to go get treatment from an
endocrinologist from now on instead of him. It was horrible.
I was devastated because I had found this wonderful
WONDERFUL man (in my insurance too!) and now he
couldn’t take care of me anymore. But I had no choice. I
moved on and found Dr. Dean. And Dr. Dean is the man
who diagnosed my hypoadrenalism.

Thyroid disease has been grossly complicated through the
use of pure levothyroxine products and also the use of TSH
tests. I was forced to spend 5 years hypothyroid because
of that lousy TSH test; even though I had a TSH a full point
above the normal range in Jan ‘95 and exhibited gross
clinical symptoms, I was denied treatment until Jan ‘00
when my TSH was 8. And I’m not alone; millions of others
have also been denied treatment with a high TSH even
though they have every symptom in the book. And after 5
years of being denied treatment, my body has been
permanently damaged. Not only are my cell receptor sites
so messed up I have to take extra-high levels of thyroid
hormone in order to function, my adrenals have been
damaged so I may have to take Cortef for the rest of my
life. The really sad thing is that I’m not unusual in this
respect. http://thyroid.about.
com/health/thyroid/library/weekly/aa012301a.htm