When it came to health, it took me years to trust my intuition. You know: that voice in your head that you should have listened to when it came to buying that lottery ticket/taking that job/dating that man. At first my misgivings were locked on my “ideal” weight. Though I felt pressured to drop pounds, I suspected that my body could be fit, happy and healthy at my existing weight, even if it exceeded BMI standards. After years of fruitless dieting and a month-long, last-hope stint at a highly renowned weight loss clinic where spent almost $10,000 and lost only two pounds (that’s right, $5000 a pound!), I realized my intuition was correct: my body could, and did, find a healthy set point.
When treating a rare autoimmune disease called Wegener’s granulomatosis, I had to call on my intuition once again. After years on prednisone and chemo drugs, I lost over forty pounds in about two months. I was sick to my stomach and the same color as a yellow sticky pad. My liver enzymes were dangerously high. A hepatologist diagnosed me with autoimmune hepatitis, and directed me to increase the already astounding dose of steroids I was taking.
My gut told me he was wrong.
I tried to tune out the doc’s diplomas and listen to my body. To “talk” to my liver, as a healer had once advised (ergo, “listening to your gut”). The doctor had years of expertise in treating liver disease. But I had expertise in knowing how my body responded to drugs. Finally I decided the doctor was wrong, and it was the medication that was making me sick.
I was right.
I discontinued the meds. Within days, my liver enzymes had dropped 50%. Months later, I was correctly diagnosed. It wasn’t autoimmune hepatitis, but hepatitis C, exacerbated by prednisone.
What I believe is that each one of us walks into the doctor’s office with an essential diagnostic tool: intuition. It’s important to assess all available diagnostics, but pay attention to the voice in your head, the message from your gut. Because your doctor might be the expert in your disease, but you are the expert on you.