I went to see a naturopath yesterday. I made the appointment in a last-ditch effort before my insurance ends on December 31. I didn’t want to go. I didn’t see that there was any point in it. Most doctors have been useless for me, especially the ones in Western medicine. All day I was thinking, “What am I going to say?”
I used to go to doctors with high hopes that this doctor was going to be the “one” to get to the root of it all. I made long lists of my symptoms and painstakingly described them. I thought my knowledge and preparedness would benefit my appointments. I sought out the best doctors I could find at leading medical institutions. I allowed them to remove a vital organ. I took buckets of their drugs. Some of them I enjoyed. Most of them I did not.
When Western medicine failed me I saw naturopaths in clinics that had cucumber water in the waiting room and charged $600 just to walk in the door. I spent thousands on supplements, chiropractors, and osteopaths with little to no improvement.
For my appointment yesterday I tried to be simplistic in my needs. I thought a thyroid test was necessary since I no longer have one. I needed someone to refill the three meds I rely on: Sertraline for depression, Synthroid for thyroid, Trazadone for sleep. I need these medications as much as I need food, water and shelter.
I didn’t want to talk about Lyme. I’m tired of chasing Spirochetes that I am not certain are the cause of my illness. I sure as hell did not want to talk about mold. I didn’t want her to recommend thousands of supplements or treatments that I could not afford. All of those thoughts led me to my conclusion that this naturopath visit was going to a waste of time. All day I kept thinking I was going to say, “I really don’t know if you can help me…”
Her office was in an old Victorian that had been converted into offices. It smelled musty like those houses always do. There was a small but cozy portable electric fireplace planted in front of the non-working Victorian one. I anticipated meeting the receptionist who I assumed was going to shame me for not being a full half hour early to fill out paperwork. Instead there was a sign on the desk that read, “Our receptionist is out sick, please be patient and we will be with you shortly”. I was greeted instead by the doctor who handed me a 1/4 inch thick stack of papers to fill out.
I hate filling out paperwork. I hate it because it is tedious, it requires me to remember things I can’t, and often it seems to be an exercise in futility because the practitioners rarely glance at it. Additionally I hate describing all of the multiple ways the illness affects my body. At the end of filling out the papers I was even more certain that this visit was going to be a waste of time. I may look OK, but those papers revealed that I am a hot mess.
I handed them back to the doctor. She was a slight woman, maybe in her 30’s, with long brown hair and a yoga body. She ushered me back to her office lit with fluorescent lighting that made me want to cover my eyes. She said, “So I see you have a chronic illness, a lot of things going on. And it looks like you need help with your thyroid hormones”.
I explained to her as briefly as I could that I had been unable to afford my thyroid and antidepressant medicine, that I had been taking meds that were expired in doses unknown and that right around Thanksgiving I found myself in a deep hole, severely depressed, suicidal, with zero energy to function and little to no ability to assist myself. I told her I wanted to shift my attention from symptoms to creating an opportunity for my body to heal itself, not entirely believing that is possible.
She was kind and compassionate. That alone was helpful. She seemed to understand my financial situation and mentioned she had some samples of things that might help me, most importantly a probiotic. I could tell she understood the gravity of my situation and genuinely wanted to help.
She was as distraught as I am that I no longer have a thyroid gland. I explained that since I had it removed three years ago I have had very few periods of feeling even close to normal and that I had been unable to work since that time. I told her that allowing them to remove it while it was still functioning normally was one of my biggest regrets.
I knew she would want to do labs and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pay for them. She told me they had a lab that would accept whatever the insurance would pay and not bill me for the balance. This was a huge surprise! I’d never heard of such a thing. In Cali, labs were charging me upwards of $200 just for a simple thyroid test. Even better, she could draw blood right there in her office, which she did. Additionally she said that she could refill my three necessary medications without a problem. She also said that she could do a sliding fee scale for return visits, since I will no longer have insurance in a few days.
I’ve been feeling under attack from all directions. Institutions denying me assistance through no fault of my own. My bitter Ex and my entitled teenager. My siblings and their absence. The illness. Being too broke to buy food. And worse, my own mind which finds ways to blame me for all of it.
I’m so glad I went to that appointment. Unlike so many doctor visits before, I left feeling as if I got what I needed. It was a little sparkle of hope.