Dr. Alison shares her stories, and patient stories, of advocating for their own health. The process, the tracking, and why it is so important.
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You are listening to functional wellness with Dr. Alison and I am so glad you are here today. I wanted to talk about something a little different. Usually, I share health information, testing, and nutrition but today’s topic: Being Your Own Advocate, is just as important.
This topic has been on my mind, first for my personal health, and because of the amazing strides my patients have been making in their own health.
The truth is: no one will care about your health a much as you do. Not your doctors, your therapists, your spouse, or your friends. Only you are in charge of what happens to your body and health care. Well, as much as we can control right?
What I mean by this is that as a doctor, I am totally limited by our interactions. I don’t know your entire lifestyle, what you are experiencing every day. I do my best to dive into your history, but that doesn’t always mean we get to talk about every aspect of your life. Even though my sessions range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes, there is so much to cover that I need your help. Your doctors need your help.
Right now, I am going through Mast Cell Activation syndrome as a post-Covid illness. I am breaking out in excruciatingly painful hives. When it started, this was happening every day. In January, my right arm was one giant hive from my armpit to my finger tips. Then it moved to my face, and then covered my entire left arm. It finally stopped and I got a break. Then in February, the same thing happened but on both my legs. Then it resolved. I have been facing this pattern since January first this year and I have gotten minimal help or answers from my team.
I have been to multiple doctors and urgent care visits and they all look at me like I am crazy. I have had to do my own research. Every day. I have been reading and learning, taking more seminars and going through my functional physician groups. Talking with everyone I know and collecting information. Then I present it to my team, ask them what they think. What can we try.
And what is so hard when you have a chronic illness is that there are so many options but your doctors may not know about them, understand them, have access to that research or thought process and you have to present it to them. Which is so scary, right?
And it means you have to take your health into your own hands. Part of this mast cell issue for me is nutritional deficiencies. So I had to learn which ones, find the right supplements, and take them consistently. Then, I had to deep dive into my personal health and look at food, mold, yeast, and do some testing.
What it looks like right now, is that I might even be allergic to my own progesterone because I have massive hives during my period. Who would have thought that? Which means I am on the hunt for someone who is familiar with this situation and can help. And it will take some time but I still have to advocate for my health.
April has also been a great month for many of my patients. They have been so strong, and working so hard on their own health. And I am so proud of them.
A few examples include quite a few people who are sensitive to mold. They have been on a program and making some progress, but four people casually mentioned their symptoms worsen with coffee. Oh my goodness, did you know that typical coffee off the shelf is full of mold?! If they hadn’t taken that time to look at their symptoms and what they correlate with, we might never even have talked about it. Cutting out the coffee or switching to a mold free brand like Black Rifle Coffee has made a world of difference.
Other women are working on their hormone health and reducing their PMS and painful cycles. Just switching from tampons to a cup or period underwear has not only cut down on the pain, but also reduced the heaviness of their flow. Also, cutting out the scented sprays and pads which were causing yeast infections. And what an easy thing to do. They don’t have to chase supplements, or worry about birth control. They were able to take care of themselves and support their body in a different way, even though it was scary to make that switch for many of them. But they had to notice those differences, and what was causing them and advocate and ask questions.
Asking questions when you don’t understand what is happening or why with your health or in your body is difficult when you aren’t living in the health and wellness world like I am. And don’t get me wrong, it’s hard for me too.
So I definitely recommend charting your symptoms. This might be something you have to do throughout the day to see what is connected. Like my patients with their coffee increasing their coughing, sinus congestion, or post-nasal drip. Are you worse when you wake up because your bedroom is connected to your bathroom that had mold? Or in the afternoon after lunch because you are grabbing a coffee or energy drink to get through? Or something that you track through the month and connect to your cycle. How does ovulation or your period affect your health? It could also be seasonal with allergies, weather changes, or stress with school letting out or holidays. What about cycles at work? When projects are due, or when you are physically back in the office? Is there mold or off gassing from floors or walls at your office? All of these things make a difference with your health and can help you connect the dots.
Then bring these connections to your doctors and we can help you really figure out what is going on. Maybe you need testing, maybe it’s food, maybe it’s hormones. It takes time to figure it out, so be patient and don’t give up!
If you are you looking for personalized help please schedule an initial consultation online. We will go through your health history, blood work, and symptoms and make a plan for you to start feeling your best. Thank you for tuning in today, make sure to like and subscribe to stay up to date with all the weekly podcasts and see you next time!