Friday, April 15, 2011

Moms and those who care about them: Bring this list for your annual physical. It helped me discover a health concern.

     We all hear so much about the importance of women, moms in particular, putting their own health on the infamous "to do" list. The phrase, "you have to take care of yourself first," has almost become cliche for us ladies who constantly hear this advice from doctors. But the simple truth is we often don't; moms frequently ignore symptoms of ill-health, usually addressing them only when they impact their  ability to care for others.
     Several years ago, I experienced constant and severe stomach bloating and pain--which occasionally still persists. To recount my experience with the many doctors and myriad of tests, along with conflicting diagnosis would not only bore you, but put me in a depressed state, which is not what this blog post it all about. It's about empowering you and those you love to take charge, at least to some degree, of your own health.
     Still, I have to briefly share a little of my history in order to explain my current perspective of trusting your Mother's Instinct in researching your own health--and understanding sometimes we have to wait for answers: When, after two years of  repeat endoscopies, ultra sounds and scans of all sorts, the doctors disagreed on whether the cause of my pain was a hiatel hernia they discovered, gastric polyps, Celiac's disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (a common diagnosis when doctors don't know what's causing stomach upset), I became immobilized about how to get help for my pain. Nothing was working so I stopped seeing doctors for many months. I often couldn't sleep because my stomach was in so much pain, not to mention my mind-wandering thoughts, wondering if I had an undetected fatal disease that would one day rear its ugly cells.
     In an effort to take charge of my health, I started seeing an acupuncturist. I felt more relaxed afterwards for sure, but I struggled with the placement of some of the needles as they were so uncomfortable. I went for eleven visits while also taking several herbal concoctions they created for me. Unfortunately, many of the herbs made my stomach even more upset. Although I do believe in the philosophy and merits of acupuncture, I stopped my treatments because they weren't helping my stomach pain--and they were very expensive, not covered by my insurance.
     So began a lifestyle of trial and error in my avoidance of different foods, along with eating smaller meals. I started taking a probiotic, and after many more months, had more blood work taken which revealed I had untreated Lyme's disease. Whether or not this caused my stomach upset is still undetermined. But, along with the dietary changes I've made, and the antibiotics to treat the Lyme, I have more relief. My doctor doesn't believe in prolonged treatment with antibiotics, so I'm finished for now. Still, to say there are many theories and "specialists" who charge thousands of dollars for treating Lyme's Disease in an understatement.
     I also read several health books, including those written by Dr. Amen (seen on public television). I copied a list of blood work he recommended for female patients. I brought this list to my general physician and he ordered all but the food allergy tests.
     Interestingly I, for the first time, had a Vitamin D deficiency (maybe from all the cloudy days here in the Northeast?) So, now I'm taking a supplement to balance my "sunshine" level. I have come to the conclusion that managing my health is a constantly-changing, ever-evolving state of being as is our existence. I will have to modify my regimen by paying close attention to my own needs. I also pray for good doctors--and dentists to come into my life when I, or anyone in my family, needs them.
     Since I have met so many moms who are having health issues, I'm listing the blood work I had done as a reference point (you too can check Dr. Amen's books for this) for my readers here. Of course, verify with your doctors and get their professional advice. I simply want to help other women get as much empowering information as possible to SPRING into health this season:
**Lab Work to test for:
~Complete blood count
~Fasting Chemistry--metabolic panel
~25-Hydroxy Vitamin D
~C-Reactive Protein
~Lipid Panel
~Fasting Insulin
~Hemoglobin AIC
~Thyroid Panel--TSH, Free T3, Free T4, Thyroid Antibodies gland, Thyroid antibodies hormone
~Food allergy
~Fatty acid profile to check omega 3 fatty acids
~Free and total serum testosterone
~Estradiol and Progesterone levels* Women 45 and over for this test.

**This list is copied and not intended as "expert" medical advice, so everyone check with your doctors.

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