My Health Journey Part V: Decisions

parathyriod-surgery-alternative (5) If this is the first post you’ve read about my health journey, then you may want to start here:What I Didn’t Know

It had been 6 months since my last check in with the Dr., and I knew I was getting close to my one year mark since starting the boron.  Which had been our casual agreement…we’d both be comfortable trying the boron therapy for a year.

I didn’t want to call, or go in for blood work.  I didn’t want to deal with it.  The truth is, I knew that something still isn’t right.  I’ve lost over 40 pounds with Trim Healthy Mama, and in many ways, I’m feeling FAR better than I did even 6 months ago, but something is still off.  I finally gave in, and called to schedule blood work and a follow up.

On a whim, I asked for genetic testing for the MTHFR mutation, which is a naughty sounding acronym for a SUPER hard to pronounce long word that means that you have a genetic difference in how effectively and efficiently the body processes B vitamins. It’s common, and there were some things that I wanted to figure out about my health and my kids…to see if this was related.

Done, and done.  Tests were ordered, and a bajillion vials of blood were drawn.  Even though I’m nearing 40, I still feel inordinately proud of myself for making adult decisions and following through.  My follow up appointment was two weeks later.  No big deal.  I’ll just wait and see my levels on the patient portal.  I stalked it day and night.  Nothing. Nothing….nothing.

Finally, I called the office, and the phone nurse informed me that there have been ‘some changes’, and that lab results will no longer be posted until after they’re reviewed with a Dr.  Nice.  I doubt that I’d have figured out my diagnosis if they’d had that policy in place a year ago.  I would have been on a bazillion supplements and meds for symptoms instead.

So, I had to wait a WHOLE 2 weeks to find out my results.  Boo. Hiss.  I’m not good at being patient when it’s a goofy red-tape situation.  So, I won’t make you be patient either…let’s get right to the point…

The Bad News

P1110963 The boron didn’t work for me. 

My blood calcium was still elevated at 10.6 (normal range: 8.6-10.2), and my parathyroid hormone was still pumping out non-stop at 40 points over the max range of normal (range of 10-65 pg/mL; and mine was 105).

If you remember from my past posts, my body is suppressing vitamin D as well in an attempt to prevent further calcium absorption…it was still VERY low despite supplementing and lots more time in the sun.

I’m not going to lie.  I am disappointed.  Big time. 

Oh, and also, while we’re talking bad news and all: I’m a genetic mutant, two times over.   So lots more research needed there, and I’ll be blogging about that as well…what it means/how I’m treating it, etc.

The Great News

The awesome, amazing news that got me 2 hugs from my Dr. is that, in addition to my 40 pound weight loss, I also have PERFECT blood lipid levels.  The checkup from 2012 showed only 1 ‘ideal’ level out of 5, and everything else was in yellow or red. This time, I’m ALL in the green, baby!  I know that there is a health privacy act and all, but I really don’t care if you see my blood lipid numbers.  I’m proud of them. lipid comparison 2013 Note: the 2012 test was on this cool little graph.  The 2013 test was much more boring, so I put the chart in Photoshop and input this year’s numbers.  I wanted to see a visual.  The scale ranges on all tests were the same, except the HDL-C range was >46, and the LDL-C Direct, which is noted.

This makes me SO, SO, SO happy!  This is all thanks to Trim, Healthy Mama.  I’m back on the right track in this area of my health!

Decisions

After my Dr. went over all of my lab results with me, I asked what the next course of action was for the parathyroid.  In all fairness, she and I both believe strongly in natural health alternatives, and this area of treating parathyroid tumors is uncharted territory.  But things got a little weird.  She started talking about an energetics based Dr. who lives in Ecuador, and how I could hop down there and it’s only $100 to see him…etc. etc. etc.  She mentioned nutritional IV therapies for $300 a pop.  “You’re SO close to beating this…”

Another side note about me: I’m not so great at hiding my thoughts with my facial expression.  I hope I didn’t offend her.  If she knew my husband, she’d know that he doesn’t ‘hop’ anywhere, and he hates to fly.  Plus, the very mention of a trip to the Dr. ‘for only $100′ that ALSO involves passports and plane tickets…I’m not even going to bother mentioning this to him.  I secretly wondered if she’d been hitting the tinctures a little too hard over lunch.

So, I’m back to the point of having a ‘big girl’ decision in front of me.  If you’ve hung out here with me much in the remedies section, you know that I’m a HUGE fan of alternative healing and herbs.  I know that they can work as well as or sometimes BETTER than ‘mainstream’ options.

But the numbers don’t lie.  I know I’ve made great strides in some areas of my health, but thus far, the tumor is still very active.  I put in a lot of study and what I feel like was ‘due diligence’ in applying the boron protocol. It just didn’t work for me.  I’ve considered the pros and cons of continuing to pursue alternative medicines vs. the conventional treatment, which is surgery.

For me, it comes down to this:

  • my body is dissolving my bones
  • because my blood calcium is so high, it’s also refusing to intake calcium
  • this has been going on since at least 2011, when my first calcium level came back elevated
  • I turn 40 next year…time is not on my side for rebuilding bone mass
  • I’m tired of feeling old and tired
  • I am ready to tone and exercise, but I’m tired and my bones hurt.  I’m too young for that junk.
  • Calcification: this is where your body stashes excess calcium in soft tissues, arteries, corneas, joints…places where you don’t want crusty, hard layers of build up.  Oh, and kidney stones.  NO THANK YOU.
  • The surgery is outpatient, and we have a very skilled and experienced parathyroid surgeon in our area.  Like the old saying goes, “If you’re going to let someone dig around in your neck, hire a professional.”
  • At this point, the cost of continuing to try new alternatives is going to take more time, and about as much money as the cost of surgery.  And I can only tell if it’s working with more blood tests, adding more cost and time.
  • With high blood calcium, your levels and symptoms fluctuate daily, hourly…and are very subtle.  so it’s hard to know if alternative therapies are truly working or not.  You really have to rely on the pth (parathyroid blood level test) and calcium levels to see if it’s getting better.  And sometimes better just gets worse again, because of the natural fluctuations.

So this morning, after much prayer and consideration…after talking with my husband and then my kids, I made an adult decision.  A decision that goes against my normal approach to health, but that I really feel is the right decision for my own personal health at this time.  I called and scheduled surgery.

I share this, not because I want sympathy or advice…not because I think my life is any more interesting or important than anyone else.  But if you’ve followed along on this series, I just feel like I owe you the rest of the story, and I’m willing to share my own personal medical decisions.  I’m not offering myself as an example to anyone else for what to do, but just sharing where I’m at.  Health care decisions are not easy, and there are dead ends sometimes.  That’s just real life.  I’m writing a post I never wanted to write, but I’m OK with that.  It’s what needs to happen.

In the mean time, I’m so very thankful that I got a diagnosis…that’s HUGE, to be able to know the WHY, so that it can be addressed.  I’m so thankful for the positive changes in my health and weight.  Even though the parathyroid treatment was a bust, I WAS able to positively impact my health this year. To be honest, being ‘sick’…especially in this way, where it’s not visible or really apparent to others has grown me and challenged me…I’m grateful for the process, and for all of the little and big ways I’ve seen God’s hand and care for me.  I know that I also need to face the issues surrounding the genetic differences for the sake of my own health and for my kids.

So I’m ready to move past this roadblock, and get on the road to rebuilding my depleted calcium stores.  I’ll keep you posted on the surgery and on my recovery.

I sincerely thank every one of you who has read through this series, who has shared your own health struggles in private or in the comments.  That alone has made sharing such a personal journey totally worth it to me.  And for those who have and who will pray for me…I an humbled and so grateful for you.

 

Related posts:

  • Cynthia

    I am so glad you are able to go into this surgery knowing you have done what research you could and and knowing that it is the best option for you. That is really important. And huge congrats on all the progress!

    • Its_Gwen

      ♥ Thank you for all of your support and help, Cynthia! I have no regrets for trying alternatives first. :)

  • Linda St. Laurent

    Sometimes surgery is the best option. Never feel bad about the decisions you have made. You have tried harder then most with alternative medicine. God gave us surgeons to use and to help us. Alternative medicine will help you heal and live a more productive life. Congratulations on your diligence and determination, and making a really tough decision.!!!!

  • Mocorcoran

    I had the surgery and it was a piece of cake. They said i could have morphine if i needed it but it was pain free so didnt need it at all. The scar didn’t look great so I bought a bunch of scarves to wear to work while I healed.

    • Its_Gwen

      Thank you! This is SO encouraging!

  • Christa

    So proud of you, mama! Look how far you’ve come in a year and all of the wonderful ways your life has changed! Know that we’re right here whenever you need us, and of course we’ll be praying…and sending food. :-)

    • Its_Gwen

      Thank you, dear friend! ♥

  • Katherine

    You shouldn’t feel bad, you tried the natural way first; you did all that you could so you wouldn’t have to think “what if”. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished and for inspiring and teaching so many of us!

  • Julie Mobley

    So glad to hear this, and great that you tried alternatives first. I am a Operating Room nurse, and you will do GREAT!! I am sure you have a great surgeon and they will take very good care of you. There are worse things in the world than surgery and it is amazing the technologies that advance every day in this field. So much safer than years ago. Good luck, and I am sure you will be back to yourself in no time!

    • Its_Gwen

      I’m actually looking forward to it at this point. :) Thank you for the encouragements!

  • Michelle

    Gwen, I will be praying for you. I admire the way you made your decision. I pray that God will continue to guide you in your health journey. We have been finding out more and more about prescription drugs as we have tried to help my father-in-law with some health issues. It has taught my husband and I a lot and if at all possible any health issues that come up in our lives we would look into alternative medicine first. But that does not mean that we would never have surgery or never consider conventional medicine. We have witnessed how taking 7 or more drugs complicates things. It’s so sad, because some people just want a magic pill. And like you said, so many doctors just treat the symptoms. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  • Donna Jones Lochridge

    Be sure to keep us posted. I just joined your blog today, so now I’m interested in seeing what the Lord will do, I would be honored to be a part of it by praying for you. May the Lord bless and keep you, may the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

    • Its_Gwen

      ♥ Thank you!

  • Heather

    Thank you Gwen for your courage and for sharing your story. You have brought awareness to a health issue that I knew NOTHING about and I too am considering getting this checked out. Nobody should judge you for your decision. God gives surgeons their skills for a reason. :) Please keep us posted on your journey!

    • Its_Gwen

      Thank you, Heather! I appreciate your support and kind words. ♥

  • Beth

    Proud of you and praying!

    • Its_Gwen

      Thank you, friend! ♥

  • Sydney

    Gwen, I only wish I had read this sooner. I’m going to have my vitamin C tested this week. I have a very strong feeling I have this condition and may have had it for over 20 years. :( I started THM because of your progress pictures. Praying for a wonderful outcome on your surgery. Blessings!

  • Sydney

    I meant to say calcium, not vitamin C!!

    • Its_Gwen

      Hope you get to the bottom of what’s happening with your health! Many of the symptoms mimic thyroid issues too, so maybe ask for a full panel of thyroid hormones to rule that out too. ♥

  • Melissa

    Just wanted to say that I’m praying for you and believe that God has you in His hands! I’m so blessed by your story. Not because of anything other than the fact that you sought to be led by God in a hard situation for you and your family, but also for the fact that when He led you in a direction other than the one you naturally want to go, you still follow Him. God bless you!

    • Its_Gwen

      ♥ Thank you, Melissa.

  • http://fromtheheart-anna.blogspot.com/ Anna

    I have struggled with low iron for sooooo long. I was NOT going to have surgery! Well after years and years of iron supplements plus feeling like a slug all the time I finally did it. It was a very minimal procedure, just burning the lining of my uterus. My Dr said it would take 6 months to a year to bring my iron levels up, I think that’s if ai remember to take the supplements! Ha ha! I also eat spinach and other iron rich foods. Sometimes we just have to make hard decisions. I am so glad that you’ve shared your story and are continuing to be proactive.

  • Jennifer Bogart

    Praying for you today. Surgery isn’t an easy option. Hugs.

  • Ewilson

    Gwen, I can’t believe I somehow missed that you were having surgery! I read through this whole series tonight and love how you were tenacious in finding the root cause of your health issues. I admire how you steady followed each lead and can’t wait to hear now that the surgery is done how your health improves. You continue to be an inspiration to me!
    I am just sad I didn’t know sooner so could have been praying!