It's my body and I'm telling you, this is not normal
How to Speak Strong
to get a doctor to listen to you

© 2009 Meryl Runion

            

Nothing normal about it
Kym’s health was going downhill fast until she took charge of her own health issues. She refused to take no…rmal (normal) for an answer when she knew that what she was experiencing was anything but normal. She conducted extensive research to find out what was wrong with her, and Spoke Strong to find a doctor who would work with her. In her search for “Dr Right” she was dismissed by many “Dr. Wrongs.” But she persevered until she found someone to partner with her instead of telling her that her real problem was that she was “fat, female, and over forty.”

Kym sent me her story, and I shared it with a natural health consultant. He figured out what the issue was before he even completed the second paragraph. Yet it took persistent acts of assertiveness for Kym to get the support she needed. Here’s her tale told in full.

Sudden slog
One day I was enjoying life, bursting with energy, bright-eyed, and then literally the next day - I was slogging. Dancing in peanut butter. Every breath a chore. Every chore an exercise in exhaustion.

Other symptoms appeared. Most notably…weight gain, memory glitches, hair loss, I was extremely cold all the time, with dry skin, achy limbs, and a feeling of hopelessness. I went to a doctor.

"I'm fat, exhausted, and depressed," I told that doctor.

"Of course you are," he replied. "That is what happens when you eat too much and exercise too little."

I told him of my sudden symptomatic on-set, of my history with low-grade hypothyroidism. I explained that these symptoms I had currently were exactly like the ones I'd experienced twenty years earlier when first diagnosed with hypothyroidism - only this time the symptoms were on over-drive.

"Look," the doctor tried to convince me, "you're over forty years old. Gaining a little bit of weight and slowing down is normal. You have just taken 'normal' a step further. I recommend eating less and exercising more." He took a blood sample anyhow, to check my thyroid hormone levels.

The test came back "normal," but I sure didn't feel it, so I ramped up my exercise and cut my calories back even more. I was hungry all the time but I denied myself food. I slowly became increasingly angry, hungry, exhausted, and under-nourished. And fatter. I was up to 193 - I'd started at 103. That's exactly ninety pounds.

The quest for Dr. Right
Doctor after doctor assured me that my thyroid blood levels were "normal" and that I simply needed to take this drug for weight-management, that drug for joint inflammation, this drug for anxiety and depression, and try some of that hair re-growth shampoo that's on the market. By the time two years had passed, doctors had prescribed medications for four separate ailments.

My life-long casual interest in natural healing became much more obsessive. My computer and I became best friends - me constantly tapping away at its keyboard, it indulging me with an endless supply of knowledge. By the time all was said and done I knew exactly which foods to eat, which to avoid for my condition (strangely, many of the "no-no" foods" were choices doctors insisted I integrate into my diet), which condition I actually had (nope, through all this time not ONE doctor diagnoses me correctly or even thought to administer the right blood tests), and I knew which tests to ask for from a health care professional.

Finding one who would perform those tests (at my own expense) was the next hurdle. I called every doctor in my area and finally ended up going to California to a doctor recommended by a family who has Hashimoto's Disease (autoimmune thyroid disease). I walked right in with every ounce of empowerment I could draw up and told that doctor, "I know what is wrong with me, I know what hormone replacement I need, and I even think I know what amount of replacement I need - would you like to wager a bet on how much or should I just walk now? Because if you tell me I'm fat and lazy because I eat too much and exercise too little, I'm not going to be responsible for what happens next." To my surprise, and likely to his, we agreed to work together. That doctor asked if the doctors back home were trying to "kill" me - that is how bad off I was, and I knew it.

I ended up with the right hormones in the right amounts. I eat a 99.9% healthy diet that is geared toward people with Hashimoto's Disease. And I don't take any drugs, other than the occasional aspirin.

Doctors who “Listen Strong”
I am doing well now. Much of the excess weight (though not all) and every other symptom is gone. It was hard to stand tall and speak strong when I was so ill, but I did it. Now, part of my passion, my purpose, and my empowerment comes from standing up and speaking out for others in my community who have this very same disease and who are not getting adequate care. I accompany these people (mostly women - women are more prone to autoimmunity) on their doctor appointments when they ask for my strongly spoken help. I can tell you that some doctors have not responded well and I can tell you that some have been very willing to listen. It is THOSE doctors that we will return to, for they have the ability to listen. Or should I say, "they have the ability to ‘hear strong’?”

One of the lame excuses for not speaking up that I describe in my new book Speak Strong is “misplaced respect for authority.” That’s what we do when we switch off our own critical thinking in the presence of experts. The best way to respond to experts is to use them as consultants, learn from them, and then take responsibility for your own decisions. They know the field, and you know you. Ultimately, if any expert is wrong, you’re the one who suffers, not them.

Some authorities welcome a collaborative approach. Others do not. Still others are not accustomed to collaboration but can be persuaded.

If you meet with resistance, keep on. Kym is glad she didn’t give up and give in to a diagnosis she knew was wrong.


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Meryl Runion and Speak Strong (SpeakStrong) provides Power Phrases (PowerPhrases) and other tools to help you improve communication skills at work and at home. You can read more about her at www.speakstrong.com.

Meryl is the author of six books on communication that have sold over a quarter million copies worldwide, including Speak Strong, PowerPhrases!, How to Use PowerPhrases, Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, and How to Say It: Performance Reviews. You can reach her at 719-684-2633, or by email:

You can also follow Meryl on Twitter: http://twitter.com/merylrunion.