Raina Kranz-Kaplan, C.P.T., Contributor
Being the witness of finding The Best Thyroid Treatment
Being a witness to life is a spiritual lesson in itself, a statement made by a healer I met in Sedona, Arizona. The wisdom that emanated from him when he spoke was profound poetry. He was Native American and lived by a natural law that I have always found most interesting. We sat outside beneath the stars on a cool night in May many years ago and he had much to speak and say about the ways of the Hopi. I sat in complete awe waiting for his knowledge to surround me and fill my mind with wonder.
To this day, there was one lesson that has stuck with me from that time and has become a practical application I use in my daily life. The lesson is about:
Being the witness and then taking it even further, to being the witness to that witness…
it was then when I had a real ‘Ah-Ha’ moment!
Without getting too complicated, this process starts with a detachment from self and the current situation at hand; something that may actually be unfolding right before you in real time.
Having the skill set to remove yourself personally, emotionally and with no judgement is not as easy as it sounds… so just being the witness takes practice.
The idea is to evaluate the situation at hand and decide how you may want to proceed – the goal is to have the best possible outcome for all involved, you included; in other words a win win or the best positive result for all, with as little negativity as possible. The lesson was an approach to life from a place of truth and a perspective that can enhance one’s ability to move peacefully in the world; being that witness to the first witness, yourself.
If you could close your eyes and envision looking down at yourself, like an eagle flying over the earth, you would see things from a much different view and perspective. That is when you’ve learned to have true detachment. Witnessing the witness enables one to actually set into motion several scenarios and watch them play out with no judgement. This allows for the ability to see many variations and possible peaceful resolutions. Then you can choose the best path to take, the proper approach, response, reply or action all from a place of no judgement or expectations at all.
Two years ago or so when I started running a Facebook thyroid support page, I found myself really using this principal. The internet really allowed for the witness to be a real witness. There were no faces, no emotions, no body language to interfere with the spiritual process of listening to someone’s story and analyzing what was going on. This perspective really allowed me to use another one of my skills, which is researching. From there the mission began.
I have Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, diagnosed in 2012. The first year of my disease was spent researching just for me. Finding my way onto Facebook and other support groups, didn’t occur to me to do, until I was well on my way to recovery.
The quest began like many others and I was feverish in my studies. My goal was to completely understand what alien had been taking hold of my body and wreaking havoc for a lot longer than my actual diagnosis. In late 2013, I finally found the need to explore some thyroid support groups in search of more information. Much to my surprise, I found a lot of the information contradicting a lot of my research. I found this very concerning –
was I missing something or was there a lot of dangerous and misleading information being shared out there in Facebook groups?
My disease was no different than anyone else’s with hashimotos and hypothyroidism… the symptoms were all pretty straight forward, nothing the medicine and a few supplements couldn’t fix, right? We all now know how complicated this is. When I started to read the information in these thyroid Facebook groups, I was taken aback by what was being shared. I found it very difficult to support – as there was no credible, sourced or studied abstracts that verified that this information was safe or even true. I found a lot of the information was outdated and more recent research had far more relative details pertaining to our disease.
I also found common threads between patients not feeling well or not getting better and a lot of so called facts that were being suggested in many groups.
Thyroid disease is a very complicated disease – I do understand for the sake of this article that Thyroid cancer and many of rarer abnormalities of this disease do not apply to my story.
What I would like to share with all of you “ The thyroid patient “ like myself… is what I have witnessed from the eagles perspective over the last couple years. How this insight might make you a better thyroid advocate for yourself and be a better patient? That alone would help you find better care from a better doctor. One that works WITH you, for you.
This can be a very sore subject for many thyroid patients…I totally understand. Those of you who were diagnosed many, many years ago – I sigh at your struggles, your frustration and your pain. Hearing your stories and how long you have suffered at the hands of your doctors is shameful.
This is one area that I find the most debilitating. These dreadful, extenuating situations and all of these patients that seem to never feel any better. One of my observations is that they are holding a grudge against the medical community for not treating them as well as they should have, and they have every right to feel that way. Unfortunately, this sets the patient up for failure in finding a good Physician who can help. I blame the atmosphere in a lot of these groups villainizing the medical community. Now before you go and get angry with this statement – please hear me out.
Not all doctors are bad doctors – and a lot of the information that thyroid patients were taking to their Doctors about that they learned from Facebook support pages, were just dead wrong. The doctor-patient relationship was doomed before it even got off the ground, in that circumstance.
If you want to find a good thyroid doctor nowadays, you also have to be a good thyroid patient. If you want doctors to listen to you – now you have to learn to speak their language. Bring to the table logical, resourced, common sense information and you can have a discussion that will actually lead to a thyroid treatment tailored just for you.
Out of the bad doctor era came the alternative doctor and the naturopath…this is where many thyroid patients turned to, to get treated when traditional doctors didn’t meet their needs. These doctors tested further than those restricted by ATA and insurance companies. They were able to help with nutrition and supplements that traditional doctors were not.
This has now become a big, huge business and in the couple of years that I have been running this page, I have seen my fair share of horror stories coming from thyroid patients from this group with these type of practitioners. The main complaint from patients about traditional doctors was the cookie cutter method of treatment. Now, his same thing is also happening in the alternative sector, but from the other end of the spectrum.
Let me explain.
We are all chemically different. There is not one way to treat any one of us. Our needs and symptoms vary from person to person. What works for one patient may not work for another person or a group of patients. It is our responsibility to be aware of our bodies and what it all means for us. We should not be handing over our health to any physician and that includes functional medicine, naturopaths and alternative doctors without having a grasp of what all this means to us as an individual. We have to be smarter, for our own health.
We have to change our minds when it comes to our medical choices. We have to approach this from a smart and knowledgeable place. You want to trust your caregiver, but having an M.D. after their name does not automatically create trust and neither does D.O or naturopath or functional medicine letters. What makes a good Doctor is the person, so it doesn’t matter what initials are after their name – what matters is; can they help you and I mean really help you.
Two spectrums occurring in thyroid patient’s treatment
1.) Is under- treatment
This happens when thyroid labs come back and the results are in normal range and the patient expresses that they don’t feel well. Some medical doctors walk that line….Your numbers are in range and that is that. There is no reason you should feel bad.
This type of doctor needs be fired. He is not open to hear you – and he is not open to increasing your medication or trying a combination of medications or different treatments to help you feel better. I can tell you this, there are many traditional doctors out there that are willing and able to do so. You just have to look.
What each thyroid patient needs to understand about conventional doctors…is this, most will only treat your thyroid condition – they will NOT treat your autoimmune condition. They do not have the education, knowledge or know-how, to do so. The only exception is if they do the research on their own to go the extra mile. Then you have found a diamond in the rough. Going into a traditional medical office and expecting this doctor to test a certain way and help in a certain way is setting yourself up for a horrible doctor experience.
This is not a good/smart patient behavior – it works against you. If you find a traditional medical doctor willing to test reasonably and who listens to how you are feeling, adjusts medications accordingly and is open to treating with combination therapy of T4/T3 even if he is not open to NDT right now…YOU HAVE found a keeper. A good doctor.
Now you can start a relationship and build on it. Once there is mutual respect, you may find that he/she may be willing to do more than you ever imagined. This takes time and it takes effort on the patient’s part to help that doctor along.
For those of you who cannot afford to see a doctor out of pocket…
- You will have to find a doctor that is within your restraints financially.
- You will really need to educate yourself on the testing and what the results mean.
- You will really need to be well-versed in all the medication options available and how they work with in the body.
- You will also need to find a way to understand the negative feedback loop of the pituitary/hypothalamus/thyroid system.
When you understand this information, then you can have a direct conversation with any doctor. You will become a true advocate in your healthcare and a willing participant in common sense decisions in medication and dosages. Your Traditional Doctor should respect this and appreciate this….you are making his job so much easier. You both will be happier. A win-win.
You must also understand, unless your DR has thyroid disease he/she will never know what you feel like, never. They will hear your complaints but they won’t make any sense when your levels are within range. The approach with the traditional Doctor needs to be more mathematical or scientific or willing to think ‘outside of the box’.
* You need a comprehensive record of all of your labs that you’ve kept
- On those labs, you should keep notes as to what medication(s) you were on and what doses they were.
- What supplements you were taken and how much
- Any symptoms you were experiencing or any symptoms you DID NOT have at those given levels
- How you felt over-all
This is how you find your own PERSONAL OPTIMAL thyroid levels, not by any chart that you find in a Facebook group or online. This is how you find what other labs results (like cholesterol or kidney function) correlate with elevations or decreases in thyroid levels. This is how you chart how your body works. For some thyroid patients, like myself… Cholesterol and glucose rise with the elevation of TSH. I had to chart this over two years to get a physician to finally take me seriously. I discovered that my TSH must be below 1.0 in order for my cholesterol and glucose to be in a reasonable place. I did this so that I can fight the good doctor’s argument for my need for statins. My new Endocrinologist is working with me to maintain my personal optimal thyroid levels so I can stay heart healthy. This is now the patients responsibility, please do not expect your doctor to do this for you… if you happen to have a diamond in the rough, wonderful.. you are lucky!
2. Is over – treatment
This can happen in many ways. I have seen it happen with good intentioned medical doctors that may not have full knowledge of the endocrine system and how the medications work. They end up experimenting with thyroid treatment. This does not work well.
The other scenario is the naturopath or functional medicine doctor that may start treating a patient much earlier than a traditional doctor would, based their on lab results (either not sub- clinical or being sub-clinical) but not being overt- hypothyroid.
The medicine of choice here is, NDT or (combination of T4/T3 medicines). And, T3 is nothing to mess around with. Starting new patients on this type of medicine is frowned upon from the traditional medical community. But….
Until, I saw many situations that this set of circumstances didn’t bode well for the patient, occur – that is when I started to understand why the traditional medical community followed a certain protocol – I started to look a little closer to what was going on. It appears that a one size fits all approach has been set up to follow for the alternative side of treating thyroid patients. Once again, under treatment has now been switched to over treatment and many patients are still suffering.
Many of these alternative practices or doctors, also sell many varieties of supplements. Not to mention that the testing can be very expensive, since the costs are mostly out of pocket. One of the biggest faults I’ve been finding is that a lot of these expensive supplements contain ingredients that alter thyroid function and not in a good way. In addition, the other ingredients within the supplements are of low quality. Patients are trusting these practitioners with all their hearts and dollars….only to discover they sold them a bag of goods. In addition to that, when it comes to prescribing thyroid hormone medication whether it is NDT or any of the synthetic forms, not all naturopaths or functional medicine doctors can prescribe actual medication. This varies from state to state and practice to practice, so before you spend any money on a practitioner out of pocket – make sure they are able to write you a script first.
These types of doctors do listen more, but oftentimes, they end up following a protocol that is again a one size fits all treatment method. The common thread is getting thyroid patients’ TSH as low as possible, even to suppression of TSH or very close to “0” and to raise T3 as high as possible by increasing NDT. This can lead to adrenal fatigue. The practitioner’s next step would be more testing for adrenal fatigue. Then supplementation for treatment of that. This treatment is just as bad as being under treated. It’s like chasing your tail to overcome the next set of symptoms that arise from being over medicated or on the wrong type of medication to begin with. This does not result is wellness.
The above approach is a very important example of learning to be a willing participant in your own healthcare with the alternative doctor especially with the possible higher cost out of pocket, to you. In addition to keeping all your labs, charting patterns, taking notes for each set of labs done, you must be well-versed on supplements, quality, ingredients and the cost of these supplements. Can you find something either better or just as good at a lower price online or local health food store? Yes, you surely can!!!
Do not hand over your health to an alternative doctor assuming they know what is best for you – the extra testing is very nice and if you can afford it – you may be able to uncover many things that traditional testing would never find, yes! But you still must do your homework and be able to comprehend the testing and understand what the results actually mean for you and your body.
For your best thyroid treatment:
- Be on alert to unneccesary tests and supplements
- Check everything against all your medication(s) for any interactions or contraindications
- Before you buy anything, do your own research for a product at a better price and better ingredients.
Following a chart that recommends where your thyroid levels should be at – can certainly set yourself up for failure. Those thyroid charts you see all over the internet are great as a guidelines. True optimal levels, should be based on how you feel. If you are feeling pretty good, make a note of those levels. Additionally, your dose of medication may need to be altered over time and even the medication itself may need to be changed. But those levels may stay pretty consistent over your lifetime. The goal is to maintain the levels that you feel good at. (and to keep consistent with your treatment)
are your lab test results when you feel good?
Compare those labs with the charts at that time and see where optimal is for you, in relation to those charts. This is how you find your own personal happy place.
As a thyroid patient myself, I can tell you when I got my labs back and I felt amazing – my labs did not match up to where those charts said I should be. If I had paid any attention to that chart – I bet I could have psyched myself into not feeling as good as I should. The power of suggestion is very strong… this is why listening to your own drummer is a better guideline to follow.
As for the witness to witness and thyroid hormone medication or treatment, there is not ONE type, one brand or one combination that works for ALL thyroid patients.
We are all different and unique, that is a fact!
- Some people do perfectly well on T4 only and some do terrible.
- Some people do fantastic for many years on one brand and then do not.
- Some people do amazing on NDT and some just do not.
- Some people do fantastic on combination therapy of T4 and T3 and again some do not.
What is the best thyroid hormone medication? The answer is simple, the one that works for you!
Don’t be a follower – be your own individual. If something isn’t broken – there is no need to fix it.
Most of what I witness is people feeling good on a certain type of therapy – but because another person said something else is better, they switch. After they do, the eventually discover that they don’t feel as good as they did on their original therapy or treatment protocol. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
Wellness is possible and we are in more control over our body than any doctor. I am sending out nothing but love to all of you in the thyroid community. My hope is to change the perspective of what it means to have thyroid disease and change the process of how we receive our care from our physicians, by creating a healthier way to approach the office visit. We can only be responsible for our own behavior. How we choose to respond, react and take action will depend on how well we can practice being the witness to the witness.
About the Author
Raina Kranz, C.P.T. attended and is certified from the American College of Sports Medicine. She studied Kinesiology/Biomechanics. Living in Hollywood, Florida she is a full time personal trainer and coach. Find her at her website, Personal Fitness Training Florida and wonderful online Facebook Group, Thyroid Healing Journey. Click to schedule an appointment or to learn more about Raina’s Customized Thyroid Exercise Training Program at Thyroid Trainer.