Visiting New York brings up a lot of emotions for me… When I first met my husband in 2005, I was still in pharmacy school in Chicago, and he was living in New York. I used to come visit him when I was a young, fabulous and broke college student. I loved the energy, the vibe and the pace of New York and looked forward to every visit.
Michael eventually moved to Chicago, and the next time I visited New York, we were already married and living in Los Angeles. It was the spring of 2010, and I had just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
That trip wasn’t as fun for me. I was in town to visit with my husband’s old colleagues and felt cold, exhausted and emotionally unstable.
It’s a little embarrassing to say, but I had a nervous breakdown during that trip, embarrassing myself, my husband and some of his old friends because I couldn’t control my anxiety and panic attacks (my thyroid antibodies were measuring at 2000+ at the time which can make a person extremely anxious, and as I had never had anxiety before, I had zero coping skills). I threw a tearful hissy fit and said that I hated New York and never wanted to come back in front of my husband’s friend and colleagues. But now I realize it wasn’t New York, it was my life and how I was feeling that was the problem. That trip was really a turning point for me, to take charge of my health, no matter what it took because I never wanted to feel the way I felt that day again.
And now I’m visiting New York again for the second time in 6 months! The last time I was here, I was speaking to 500+ health care professionals about how they can help their patients overcome Hashimoto’s, and during this trip, I am meeting with publishers about a new book on Hashimoto’s! I feel like I have come full circle. I love New York again, and in a strange way, I am so grateful for the awful experience I had over 5 years ago that forced me to change my life. I once heard someone say that we have two birthdays, the first one is the day we are born, and the second one is when we realize why we were born. I am so happy that I didn’t give up on myself and I can now help other people with Hashimoto’s recover their health. I wrote the next article to help you guys overcome some of the barriers you may have…
Do You Have to Be Wealthy to Overcome Hashimoto’s? Short answer… No, but it sure helps!
The other day I received an email from a reader who said, (paraphrasing) “It seems like you have to be wealthy to overcome Hashimoto’s. Most of us can’t afford to take the tests you recommend, see functional medicine doctors or even take supplements. I suspect that the reason why you were able to get better is because you were wealthy. What about the rest of us?”
I’ll be honest, having money and wealth can obviously help with everything. Having a degree in pharmacy was really helpful for me as well, because I was able to have a steady paycheck and had a background in science and medicine, so I was able to understand medical studies. But you do not have to be a doctor or a millionaire – I sure wasn’t – to take charge of your own health and to invest in your healing.
Here are some budget-friendly ways to take charge of your own health:
1) Start with knowledge and education. I’ve spent a great deal of time synthesizing my experience and testing into hundreds of blog posts, on just about every aspect of Hashimoto’s on my blog. Both of my books, Hashimoto’s Root Causeand Hashimoto’s Protocol, are available on Amazon as well as in many libraries. If your library does not have a copy, you can request it by giving the librarian the title of the book or my name.
I also did a fun clip on the Dr. Steven show on common thyroid symptoms. Dr. Steven is an MD/comedian and the show should be entertaining if you have a few minutes you can watch it HERE).
2) Sign up for a Health Spending Account, or a Flexible Spending Account through your employer or bank. This is a pre-tax account, where you can set money aside towards eligible health care costs, such as consultations, lab tests, and supplements (if you have a doctor’s prescription). Some employers will even match your contributions! 2016 HSA accounts allow up to $3350 per year, per person. The best part is that in many cases, you don’t have to fund the account all at once, you can put 1/12th of the full amount in each month and use your annual funds all at once, so it’s like an interest-free loan. Please check with your bank or human resources company to get more details about these types of accounts.
3) If you do not have the option for this type of account at this time, start a wellness fund and get a credit card with 0% financing for one year, to help you pay for the most necessary testing, supplements, and consultations.
4) Think of places where you can cut back/downsize and put that money in your wellness fund!
- Cable TV, most of us don’t actually watch every single channel!
- Clothing shopping, which is often necessary and may be expensive, especially if your weight is fluctuating due to thyroid disease. Consider shopping at thrift stores to save money.
- If you have an extra room in your home, getting a roommate, or renting out rooms on Airbnb may be a way to save money or to make a little more.
- Gym membership fees, which are often monthly and recurring, may be something to cancel or put on hold, especially if you’re not using it due to your health.
5) Medications are the fastest way to feel better. Get on the right medications and you’ll have more energy to heal! (My Optimizing Thyroid Medication eBook is available at no cost!) Often times, Synthroid, which is the standard of care, doesn’t work for people. If you are struggling, this may be due to fillers and lack of T4 to T3 conversion. Talk to your doctor about other medication options.
Armour Thyroid*, Nature-Throid, and WP Thyroid are options that contain T4/T3 and are usually $30 per month without insurance!
*Note: While Armour Thyroid does not have any gluten-containing ingredients, it is not tested for gluten content, and cannot be certified as gluten-free. Armour does contain sodium starch glycolate, which can be derived from wheat or corn.
6) Dollar for dollar, medications are the least expensive interventions. Consider the use of low dose naltrexone (LDN), an immune modulating medication that is very helpful for people with autoimmune disease. A reader recently wrote “Just so you know – I am on LDN, and my antibodies have dropped from 2770 to 950 in 6 months. And they continue to drop each time I test every 6 weeks. Maybe highlight that opportunity a bit more for people?” You can get this medication from compounding pharmacies for around $40 per month. Here’s an article I wrote about LDN a few years back.
7) Look for financial assistance for medications. Tirosint is a T4 only medication, that is hypoallergenic and thus better absorbed but often has a high copay on insurance. You can, however, get the copay reduced or waived, when you download a coupon from the Tirosint website. For any medication you need to take, be sure to look for coupons on the website of the medication to get it for free or a discount on your copay. If you have dire financial needs, you can also use rxassist.org and get many medications for free when you fill out a special needs form.
Here is an additional service for saving money on prescriptions—regardless of your income.
I suggest you look for coupons for every med you take – especially if the medications are monthly. Use the extra money for your wellness fund!
8) When you have Hashimoto’s, the single most important supplement you should be taking is selenium 200 mcg every day. You can get this supplement for pennies per day. Read more about selenium and Hashimoto’s HERE.
9) Take advantage of summits and promotional events. Authors and experts are always looking for ways to get more exposure for their work, and they often give away really helpful content with the hope that you will love the content and decide to get their books, which are also another excellent way to gather the expertise of someone for a very low cost. Again, Amazon or libraries are your best bets for discounted books.
Summits are another excellent way for you to educate yourself. I really love the summit model, because it allows the producers to reach and help thousands of people, and still receive a return on their investment. Most summits cost $10,000-$50,000 in fees. The longer the summit, the more it costs the producers, because they have to pay for the website, bandwidth and support staff, and often take time off their jobs to deal with all of the summit madness (speaking from personal experience here).
Summits are usually set up where you have multiple speakers per day available for free, and you also have the option of buying the transcripts. I like this model because it gives access to people on a fixed income, such as retirees, students and people on disability, who are likely to have more time in the day, compared to people who work full-time, so they can watch 2-3 hours per day. In contrast, the model can also be excellent for people who are busy and working, they generally will not have the time to watch the summit all at once, but they always have the option of buying the transcripts and videos to watch in their spare time.
Buying the transcripts before the start of the summit is the best bang for your buck. They are usually $47-$67 for the full event, and you end up paying less than $5 per hour with each expert.
10) Eating organic and gluten-free can be expensive, but there are various ways to reduce your grocery bill. Here are some tips:
Plan out your meals in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it. I have downloadable meal plans for both Paleo and AIP diets that I created for this very purpose. It’s only $27 for 10 weeks of Paleo or AIP recipes, or you can choose to bundle and save at Root Cause Recipes.
- If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, you can get a tax form from your doctor to claim expenses.
- Shop at Trader Joe’s, local farmer’s markets, or Aldi.
- Buy frozen; organic fruit and vegetables can be expensive, especially when they’re out of season. Organic frozen fruit and vegetables are the next best thing and are often a fraction of the cost you would pay for their fresh counterparts.
- If you are in the US, you can have access to discount natural foods online. Use this for staples and take advantage of special offers. Thrive Market is my favorite retailer, they offer 25-75% discounts on health foods, personal care, and cleaning products.
11) Get health books from libraries. My Root Cause and Hashimoto’s Protocol books are available there!
12) Offer to work, or barter, for services! Sometimes experts need help! If you have a talent, you can offer it up to the world, in exchange for free or discounted access to services/programs.
Medications, the right food, and selenium will be a great start on your health journey. For some, it will get them 100% better, for others, maybe 10%. What will get you the rest of the way?
- Working with a functional medicine practitioner and/or taking my Hashimoto’s Self-Management Program
- Getting functional medicine testing, and adjusting your treatment plan accordingly
- Taking tailored supplements
Here’s some more food for thought… your CURRENT financial situation does not define your FUTURE financial situation…
I didn’t have money growing up. I grew up in communist Poland, where resources were scarce. My grandmother and my aunts made the majority of our clothes, and most of our food came from my grandparents’ farm. Toys were a luxury—I didn’t get a Barbie doll until I was eight.
I moved to the United States with my family at the age of nine, and both of my parents had to start over – their degrees didn’t transfer, and so my dad took on a job at a factory, while my mom worked as a caregiver, until she was able to learn English and transfer her degree. My parents, brother and I lived in a two bedroom apartment with 5 of our cousins.
Most of our furniture was purchased from garage sales or picked up from the trash.
I got my first job the day after I turned 16, selling doors, door to door, and then got a job as a pharmacy cashier and trained to become a pharmacy technician – at 17, I was the youngest person to become a certified pharmacy technician in Illinois.
I knew that I wanted to help people. I considered careers in social work, special education, psychology, pharmacy, psychiatry, and medicine.
I decided to take on pharmacy, as I was fascinated by science. But it was a long road, as my education cost me well over $100,000, I still have the student loans to prove it!
You don’t have to be born with a silver spoon to have financial security and to be able to afford the things you want and need.
I made some bad decisions in my 20’s – co-signing for a car loan for a friend with bad credit, lending money to a friend that I never got back, and I lived above my means.
I then read a book that changed my life and how I thought about money: Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich by Lois Frankel, PhD. The title of this book is a bit deceiving, it isn’t actually a book that tells women not to be nice, it is a book that shares information on how women are socialized and put at a financial disadvantage by our society.
The book also talks about how to change that. I learned a lot from that book, as well as from Suze Orman, and I credit their expertise for helping me achieve financial security.
Here’s another reframe, if you are struggling with money, you’re likely under a lot of stress, which is not helping your condition.
Getting your health back can also help you get more money. You could take on extra hours when you feel better, or maybe come up with an idea or follow up on a dream you had.
I recently saw a post from a woman on Facebook who, after many years of struggling with symptoms, became a fiction novelist! Medications, diet, supplements, and fx was a part of her journey, but she started with education. Her brain fog lifted and allowed her to follow her dream! You can do this too!
What to do…
You can pick up Dr. Frankel’s book on Amazon, if you have the funds, I think it’s a great place to start. Her book, like my book, is also available at most libraries – this is where I got my copy when I was a broke college student.
When your resources are scarce, you need to do a better job than most in prioritizing and planning. If you are serious about getting your health back, you will need to make your health a priority.
For some of you reading this, money may not be a barrier, but rather time. If you think a post on time management for healing would be helpful, please let me know in the comments.
I know this post is a little different than my usual, I hope it’s helpful on your journey!
If you are interested in working with me personally, please sign up here and I’ll let you know when spots open up.
Lastly, you can connect with me through my community on Facebook.