I first learned about the work of Dr. Mark Hyman, functional medicine pioneer, in 2011 when I was still in the middle of my thyroid journey. Today, I am humbled and honored that he wrote the foreword for Hashimoto’s Protocol. It feels like a dream come true and a long way from where I started…
I had just moved to the Chicago winter from sunny southern California in the middle of January and was under a lot of stress, which caused a flare-up of my Hashimoto’s that was diagnosed in 2009. Though I was on thyroid meds, my TSH jumped to an 8, and I felt worse than ever.
My husband’s work position had expired, and we had to move quickly across the country for another career opportunity. I left my beach house, a job I loved, and my little convertible sports car back in Southern California…and moved into my parents’ basement in the dead of the winter in Chicago!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents and I love Chicago, but I felt like a bit of a failure…like the bird that couldn’t quite fly on its own and had to return to the nest…
Additionally, while I was excited to start a new job in pharmaceutical sales, the job ended up not being what I had hoped.
For one, it was the first job where I wasn’t able to use all the prior knowledge I had gained in my doctorate pharmacy program or in any of my past jobs (or life experience for that matter).
I had a set number of health conditions and drugs that I was representing, and I was only allowed to say the things that the FDA allowed us to say. The pharmaceutical industry is very heavily regulated!
For example, the conditions I supported were asthma and hyperlipidemia. I had two drugs in my portfolio that were FDA approved asthma inhaler drugs, and I was also representing a pharmaceutical version of fish oil. The fish oil was only FDA-approved for hyperlipidemia, so I wasn’t allowed to let anyone know that it is an excellent anti-inflammatory that could be helpful for asthma (and for thousands of other conditions, including Hashimoto’s) or any other condition outside of hyperlipidemia. It is also safer than the asthma inhalers our company made.
If someone asked me if asthma patients could benefit from the fish oil, I couldn’t answer. I had to zip my lips and have them call an 800 number; the 800 number went to a different department in the pharmaceutical company that also had a limited ability to share information because of regulations. As someone who has wanted to help people my entire life, keeping quiet when I knew I could help was probably the hardest thing for me to do.
The other tough part of the job was that I thought I would be giving presentations and speaking to people all day about drugs and health (sounded pretty good at the time). Instead, I spent 80% of my time in my fancy company car, in Chicago traffic, driving from place to place in my uncomfortable suit and high heels in the middle of the Chicago winter, to go in, and then wait 20 minutes to speak to someone for 2 minutes. It was so much less glamorous than I imagined!
I’ve always been the kind of person who tried to make lemons out of lemonade and that New Year, I made two really important resolutions: that I would take charge of my own destiny and my health. So I picked up every single health related and personal growth related audiobook from my local library to listen to as I drove around Chicagoland, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. I read a lot of books that year! When I wasn’t reading, I kept repeating two mantras to myself. Mantras may seem cheesy or cliche if you’ve never tried them (and even if you have tried them), but they helped me get through some really tough times.
“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.”
“I am Izabella Wentz, and I am the creator of my own destiny.”
One of the books I was lucky to pick up was Mark Hyman’s UltraMind about an integrative approach to mental health. I used to specialize in mental health before working in pharmaceutical sales, and this was a huge interest for me. The information I learned was life-altering and highly validating for what I suspected: that a condition could be reversed by lifestyle and by going after the root cause!
Overall, the job in pharma sales was a huge growing opportunity for me. For one, I used many of the strategies in Dr. Hyman’s book to help myself, including using fish oil to lower my inflammation and changing my diet. I also figured out that I needed blue light therapy to deal with Chicago winters—this vanquished my winter blues in 3 days!
I’m grateful for having worked in pharmaceutical sales. I had unlimited access to pharmaceutical grade fish oil made by my company 🙂 Additionally, I learned some things about the world, myself, and met some really amazing people.
For example, I had the chance to meet Bob Listecki, RPh who taught me about the power of probiotics and later went on to develop a specialized approach to thyroid medications.
I had a chance to take an insightful job assessment StrengthsFinder, which showed that my top strengths were collecting and analyzing large amounts of information, learning, fixing problems, as well as empathy, and that I would be suited best for careers in writing, research, and health consulting.
I realized that I was committed to healing and that I wanted to heal people first hand. When I wasn’t helping people to heal, I felt unfulfilled.
I also have a first-hand understanding of the pharmaceutical industry that has given me insight into why the world is the way it is. Some of my friends in natural health will say that all pharma companies are evil. This is so not the case. Every single person I met, from field sales to top level management, had a passion for helping people, but as you can imagine from the tight regulations they are under because of the FDA and other governing bodies, most of them believed that the only way to help people was with drugs.
I think this creates a bit of a tunnel vision for most of the people working in pharma, and those like me, who refuse to be controlled by “governing bodies” and refuse to limit themselves to the “approved messaging” simply cannot stay working in pharma. Believe me, I do think drugs have their place, but they are only a piece of the healing puzzle.
I believe that the kindest approach to recovering your health is an integrative world where you take the best of all of the worlds and use lifestyle medicine, functional medicine, biohacking, and conventional medicine to your advantage. I really believe this is the kindest and most helpful way for most people. My new book Hashimoto’s Protocol uses this integrative approach to help you recover your health.
I also have had a humbling experience looking back at the middle of my journey… Hashimoto’s Protocol is being released 6 years after I read Dr. Hyman’s work in my car… and I’m so honored and humbled that Dr. Hyman wrote the foreword for Hashimoto’s Protocol…
Amazing things can happen when you take charge of your own health and your own destiny! I hope that you will do the same. I hope that my book plays a role in your health journey like Dr. Hyman’s book did in mine!
If you’re still struggling, please remember that you’re still in the middle of the ride and that things are going to get better as long as you commit to taking charge of the wheel of your journey!
My book Hashimoto’s Protocol is now available, and before the book arrives at your doorstep, I’d love to share the foreword written by Dr. Mark Hyman.