My first doctor just continuously asked if I was depressed.
The second doctor (a specialist) told me my 20+ symptoms were all in my head… and then proceeded to ask me if it hurt when he pressed on my thyroid. I said “Yes.” He said… “You’re just sensitive to the touch.”
My third supposedly “holistic” doctor threw me some major shame when I refused to take the “most studied and safe drug of all time” which is, apparently, the birth control pill. He was a jerk. And I question his judgement to this day.
My fourth doctor, who treated me for over 2 years, never once touched me. Not once. Not even to check my breathing or listen to my heart or even shake my hand. She stayed at least 2 feet away at all times and followed up every single supplement recommendation with… “I give this to my dog.”
And yes, these were all medical doctors, trained at conventional medical schools.
I ran through this gambit of doctors for 4 years. That is a long time to go without feeling much improvement from the debilitating symptoms of an autoimmune disease.
But, there was a light at the end of the deep dark tunnel of less than average doctors. Finally, after 2 years of being wait-listed, I landed an appointment with the doctor I currently work with. He is well-versed in autoimmune disease treatment, and doesn’t just ignore me when I talk, or immediately resort to his magical prescription pad that so many other doctors think solves everyone’s problems.
Isn’t that nice?
What if I told you though… that almost everything that has worked to help me feel well, reduce my antibodies, and keep my inflammation down… has NOT been because of a doctor?
Looking back, I realize just how much more I could have done while waiting for Dr. Right… things that could have expedited my healing and improved my symptoms almost immediately. Things that you can control right now if you are in the same situation I faced years ago.
But, before I get to those 6 things, I want to point out the one thing that took a long time for me to learn, which is that…
No doctor is perfect.
Doctors who actually want to help people feel well without just prescribing drugs, have a tough gig. Unfortunately, it’s only getting tougher as our medical issues grow more complex. I truly believe there are some doctors out there wingin’ it just as much as we are.
The one mistake I made right from the beginning is the same mistake countless others make – I depended solely on my doctor to fix my problems.
Imagine my surprise when my current physician said “I don’t know everything and you’re going to have to do some of your own research so that we can figure this out together.”
Wait, what? Little ol’ me? What do I know?
But it’s true. My doctor doesn’t hold the key to my healing… I do. And once I realized that, my expectations for my doctor weren’t so impossible to meet.
So, sadly, you may never find that perfect doctor… but guess what?
You’re awesome, and you’re going to figure out how to heal because YOU hold the power! Yes, YOU! And here are 6 things you can do, starting today.
**Please remember – this is not medical advice! I am not a doctor and this information cannot be used to treat or diagnose any disease.
6 Things You Can Do When You Can’t Find a Good Doctor to Treat Your Autoimmune Disease
1. Educate yourself.
There is no secret formula to reversing autoimmune disease, but there IS a wealth of information right at your fingertips – blogs, podcasts, and full books all about reversing symptoms, reducing antibodies, and more.
These wonderful resources contain the knowledge the majority of my doctors didn’t know and probably still don’t know, even a decade later. Many of them even have specific protocols that you can implement to start feeling better within days or weeks.
In fact, there is SO much information now-a-days, that some people don’t even know where to start… and therefore, they never actually do anything because it’s so paralyzing.
Our advice? Pick one or two resources. Stick with them… put your blinders on, and THEN move on when you’re ready to tackle more info. We have a list of our favorite autoimmune resources in our members-only toolkit, which you can gain access to by subscribing below.
2. Construct your autoimmune-friendly lifestyle-foundation.
This part sounds fun right?! As you begin to educate yourself, you’ll notice some trends. They’ll probably look something like this:
- What you eat and drink can either help you heal OR make you worse. Some people have been able to put their disease into remission simply by changing their diet.
- Similarly to diet, what you put on your skin (personal care products) can help you heal or make you worse.
- Various environmental toxins, infections, and even parasites can be triggers for autoimmune disease.
- Your liver might need some extra love.
- You MUST sleep.
- The list goes on for days.
Are you starting to realize just how much control you have over your health? Changing your diet, what personal care products you use, what kind of water you drink, all of these things are in your control. No doctor needed.
This is the roadmap for what it takes to start building an autoimmune-friendly life that supports your health from the bottom-up. Once you dial in the things that help you personally, and start to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, some symptoms simply melt away.
A foundation that’s built with these materials gives you everything it needs to heal on its own… sometimes on a miraculous level. Dr. Terry Wahls is one of the best examples I can think of when she went from wheelchair bound as a result of MS to walking and riding her bike for miles at a time.
3. Be strategic: Use your doctor’s services to your advantage.
After exhausting the internet AND your public library of all autoimmune-related information, you will surely find information about common nutritional deficiencies. Two in particular are Magnesium and B12. And you might be tempted to go out and buy a bunch of supplements as soon as you find this out.
I did that once, actually multiple times. And I wasted a bunch of money because I didn’t even need the supplements I was taking, or they made no difference whatsoever.
This is where your maybe-so-great, maybe-not-so-great doctor enters the picture, because even if they don’t know much about autoimmune disease, they have the ability to order blood and urine tests. Instead of guessing that you have a nutrient deficiency or health issue (such as an infection, parasite, etc.) you can use their services to your advantage to find out for sure. It is very very important to TEST, and not guess.
You may have to make a case, but I found that simply asking for specific testing you’re interested in can go a long way, even if your doctor has no interest in it.
What’s great about modern times is that you can usually receive your test results via e-mail, snail mail, or online portal. This means you can gain access to your results, tailor your diet and supplements, and create your personalized healing plan even faster!
4. Learn with your doctor.
Let’s say you actually do like your doctor, but he or she just isn’t giving you the results you’re looking for. If you already have a solid relationship, and want to continue that, it’s definitely worth asking your doctor to work with you while navigating new terrain.
I am convinced that as the conventional medicine model continues to fail those of us with autoimmune disease, the functional medicine philosophy will grow by leaps and bounds. If you introduce your doctor to these concepts, and work through them together, you might change the way that doctor practices from then on… which can then change other people’s lives too.
A major chain effect. One that was started by YOU.
Now let’s say your doctor just flat out refuses to do any additional testing, or continues to ignore your requests. Or you find yourself wanting a test that many conventional offices don’t offer (such as a deeper look into your gut microbiome).
You are in luck, my friend. Did you know that testing is no longer limited to what your doctor offers? I couldn’t believe it when I was introduced to this concept of testing from home, without needing a written order from your doctor. It is simply amazing.
Seriously, amazing (a little jealous it exists now).
PLUS, if you use a service like Everlywell Home Health Tests, your results are sent to you and reviewed by a physician! So awesome. And while insurance doesn’t cover the tests, they are pretty comparable to a doctor’s visit and associated blood work costs.
If you’re looking to dive even deeper, or do not wish to have a doctor review your lab results, we have great experience using:
All 3 offer comprehensive testing at affordable prices. You simply order the test, and then depending on the type of test, you’ll either go to a nearby lab to have your blood and urine samples taken by a phlebotomist, or you’ll have your test kit sent to you in the mail.
Just remember to take a calculated approach to self-testing. It’s usually unnecessary to order every single test there is. Start with the tests that give the information you absolutely need to move forward in your healing process.
6. Expand your search for your dream doctor.
Despite the possibilities, educational opportunities, and self-testing available to you, I want to emphasize just how important it is to have a trustworthy doctor by your side.
For years, I tried to do this all by myself. I was so repelled by how doctors were treating me and my condition, that I just gave up on their help.
But I don’t recommend giving up.
A great doctor comes with the experience of working with other patients and recognizing patterns that can make an astronomical difference in your healing (yes, med-school and practicing medicine has a purpose). A great doctor can sometimes be the one thing you need to go from feeling kind-of-okay to AH-MAZING and can help when you feel stuck.
In my experience, my doctors over the years (even the not-so-good ones) benefited my healing in the following ways:
- Prescription medication (low dose naltrexone, thyroid medication, specific IVs) when needed. Can’t get them without a doctor, so this is a given.
- Education regarding alternative therapies, such as ozone therapy. I would have never tried this without working with a knowledgeable doctor.
- Interpreting various functional medicine tests that are more complicated than your typical bloodwork. This is where their experience comes into play, as they have seen so many tests that they eventually pick up on trends and patterns.
- Genetic tests and interpretation. Honestly, my current doctor is so well-educated in this, and the majority of what he tells me goes right over my head. I literally have no idea what he’s talking about, and I just have to trust that he know’s what he’s doing.
So, even if you think no other doctors exist in your area, do not give up on trying to find one… especially now with so many doctors offering to work with patients remotely. If you need some helps, here are our best tips for finding great doctors.
I know it might feel like you’re going to be doing this alone forever, but I promise you, it DOES get better once you have a real teammate by your side.
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!