My Life: Autoimmune Diseases, Hip Tears and Functional Medicine Doctors!
Woof! Yesterday was a busy day for me since I crammed in three doctor’s appointments. I’ll need have a word with past Jen about her scheduling issues later. I kicked off the morning with a visit to my PT to work through the remainder of the endo tissue that grew after a pretty bad period this past month and then hustled over to another appointment with the surgeon who had done my hip surgery in 2011. My PT thinks it’s pretty likely I may have another tear, especially since you’re more likely to get a labral tear if you’ve already had one. We’ve been making limited improvement on my hip mobility and she thinks it might be because of a tear. I have an MRI scheduled for Friday to check for the tear and I’m getting another one done for adenomyosis (a form of endometriosis in your uterus). I figured I might as well get both done at the same time and save myself a trip!
My surgeon said that if the MRI does come back with having a tear that we’ll try a shot out first to see if it helps. Since I’m a “complex pain case” it can be difficult to figure out what is causing the pain so a pain shot will help determine whether or not the tear is adding to my pain, has nothing to do with it or is causing my pain entirely. Or maybe they’ll just be no tear! Fingers crossed. If the shot does help then I will more than likely be looking at another hip surgery, but I’m not going to worry about that until I know for sure. One of the biggest causes of anxiety is about things that never even happen!
My last appointment of the day was with a new functional doctor and I was really impressed with her thoroughness. The previous functional doctor I had tried working with just wasn’t a good fit so I was ecstatic to hit it off with Dr. Sargent. It took me about 2.5 hours to finish the questionnaires that were sent to me via email before the appointment and I was so happy to see her actually put that information to use during the appointment. I often feel like doctors ask every little thing about me, but never do anything with that information. I also loved the attitude that she had. I’m very informed on my own health needs and well-educated on the subject so that I can advocate for myself, but some doctors take that as a challenge or become testy. Dr. Sargent was a total 180 from my previous experiences and treated our work together as a partnership instead of her just telling me what I need to do.
It’s been around a year since I had full bloodwork done so I’ll be celebrating my birthday this Saturday by having my blood drawn and getting food allergy testing done. I honestly don’t even care because I feel so excited to have found a doctor who seems like they really listen. During our appointment she showed my boyfriend (my boyfriend is so supportive!) and I how my questions helped fill out a type of graph that showed what areas I needed to work on and it lined up with exactly where I thought it would. This information led her to request certain blood tests and have food allergy testing done. Once my blood tests are back we’ll schedule a return appointment to go over our plan of attack. We both feel like there’s a lot left still that we can do to help heal my gut, help control my Endo from growing every time I have a nasty period and bring down the inflammation that my stomach and surrounding organs always seems to have.
Alternative medicine has made such a huge impact on my quality of life and my health. Western medication offered me the special antibiotics I needed to rid myself of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth SIBO), but it didn’t show me how to adjust my diet to make sure I killed off all the little buggers which is why most treatments with antibiotics fail. Most GI doctors don’t even recognize SIBO as a genuine condition in the first place! No doctor knew what to do with my poor, compromised gut and chronic pain besides piling on more pills from heavy pain relievers to valium suppositories. Don’t get me wrong, Western medication is amazing. We can do surgeries through pinhole sized incisions that leave hardly any scarring and have come so far in cancer treatments, but when it comes to illnesses or diseases that can’t be cured it has dropped the ball.
I floundered so badly when doctor after doctor just kept throwing more pills or more tests at me. The tests would come back showing nothing and the pills would just add more symptoms to my already huge list without offering any benefit. I felt hopeless and helpless because even the best doctors that Chicago had to offer had nothing to offer me. It wasn’t until I started seeing naturopaths, pelvic physical therapy specialists and acupuncturist that I really started to see any improvement. Where autoimmune diseases are concerned you need a whole lifestyle change to support your body not just a pill.
A functional or integrative medicine doctor is the perfect mix between a western doctor and an alternative one. They look at the body as a whole to see how it’s functioning and determine a diagnosis based off of that instead of simply trying to mask the symptoms with medications. Medications certainly have a time and place, but if a change in diet and some supplements can help your body work the way it’s supposed to why isn’t that the first option? If you have an autoimmune disease or just don’t feel up to snuff and your primary care doctor doesn’t seem to be helping I highly suggest seeing a functional medicine doctor!
I am a living testament that a blend of Western and Alternative Medication is key! This time last year I was living off of Norco just to make it through the day and now about 50% of my days are good. I have a long way left to go, but I have come so far and it’s so important when dealing with autoimmune diseases and stomach issues to celebrate any triumphs you have.
To read more about my health journey check out this post!