My Functional Medicine Experience
As many of you know, in 2022 I had a “Year of Casey” to focus on my mental, emotional, and physical health. It was a wonderful experience and the work is ongoing. I think I’ll constantly be looking at ways to live my best life.
Sickness After Sickness…
Even though I’ve been feeling pretty good, and more like myself, I still wasn’t feeling 100%. My two young kids are constantly bringing sicknesses home from school and for the past six months I have been getting sick along with them, while Finn has felt totally fine! With little people sneezing directly into my eyeballs, I’ve been feeling under the weather, more than I ever have. I’ve had an ear infection, a stomach bug that took three antibiotics to kick, and a slew of sinus infections and colds. My immune system was not up for the task of fighting off these viruses!
During my pregnancy with Ellis, I had severely low iron. It was so low that I had to have bi-weekly iron transfusions at the hospital leading up to his birth. My levels were tested when he was born, but they hadn’t been checked since and I was interested in seeing if that was contributing to me feeling a tad off.
In an effort to learn a bit more about my body, and figure out how to fight off these constant viruses, I sought the help of a functional medicine doctor.
Before we dive in, this is just MY experience. I am not a doctor and I’m not giving any medical advice here. I’m just sharing something new in my life that I’m excited about. At the end of the day, you do you!
What Is Functional Medicine?
Functional medicine takes a comprehensive look at your health to figure out why you may be experiencing symptoms, like always being sick or feeling run down. At first, I thought it sounded kinda “woo woo” and I figured they would just suggest random herbs and vitamins to make me feel better. But, everything is individualized, backed by science, and based on lab results – like a crazy amount of lab results. Functional medicine is about creating a healthy foundation to keep sickness away and figuring out anything that might be preventing you from feeling your best. That, I can get behind!
Also, this does not replace my general practitioner! I still see her yearly, for my annual physical and check-up. Oh, and I see my OB and derm each year, too. Stay on top of those important appointments!
My First Functional Medicine Experience
Many years ago, while undergoing fertility treatments, I sought the help of a functional medicine doctor. Honestly, at the time, I was doing just about anything and everything I could to feel like I was taking charge of my fertility. I saw a chiropractor, acupuncturist, a slew of IVF doctors, and then I added functional medicine to the mix. I think I did it to feel a bit more in control, during a period when I felt completely out of control of my own body.
Did it help me get pregnant? I don’t think so. But, I learned tips and techniques to take care of my body during a stressful and traumatic time.
Okay, onto my functional medicine experience. I visited Aligned Modern Health, here in Chicago. I set up an initial consultation with my doctor to review my health history, discuss my goals for the program, and share insight into my overall health concerns. This was about an hour-long virtual session and it was super detailed. I then visited the office for blood work and a urine sample.
About two weeks after my testing, I had another hour-long discussion with my doctor to review my labs. More on that soon. We will then meet every two weeks to touch base about how I’m feeling, tweak my plan, and make additional nutrition/lifestyle changes. After three months, I’ll do more lab work to see if things have improved.
I know the biggest question everyone is going to have is, “Well, what’s the cost?” All of my visits with the doctor are covered by insurance, so I just have a co-pay for each appointment. However, the lab work is not covered by my insurance, so I have to pay out of pocket for that. I haven’t gotten the bill yet, but they estimated a few hundred dollars to cover the testing. I’ll keep you posted when my bill actually comes in the mail.
I see this as an investment in myself. I have one body and I want to do everything in my power to take care of it and feel my best. I feel privileged to have this healthy body, that birthed two humans, and I want to do everything I can to feel amazing for years to come!
Reviewing My Labs
Onto my lab results. Honestly, I was a tad nervous about this call. The first thing my doctor said was, “Your labs came back okay. I would grade you at a B.” I immediately said, “I’m an A student, so that’s not gonna cut it!” Ha! I got one B in my entire life (It was sophomore year Spanish class and obviously, I’m still not over it!), and I want to make sure I’m bringing my health up to an A.
Our call was very thorough and we reviewed dozens of pages of lab results. As he said, overall, things were in a good place, but there were definitely a few things that needed some help. Here’s a list of his main goals for me…
- Increase vitamin D levels
- Support thyroid function
- Improve cholesterol
- Decrease inflammation
- Improve cortisol levels
Overall, my body has some inflammation going on and my thyroid is a tad sluggish. My cholesterol was also on the high side, due to the inflammation. Seeing all of the numbers was incredibly eye-opening and instead of leaving the appointment feeling worried, as I thought I might, I left feeling empowered!
I feel like I have a good understanding of how to be “healthy” (water, sleep, balanced diet, etc.), but seeing specific goals based on my specific lab results is incredibly motivating!
To immediately improve some of those numbers, we’re adding various vitamins to my morning and evening routine. This will start to get my numbers in a better range, right from the start. I won’t list out my vitamins here because, as I mentioned, this is all tailored to my body and my lab results. I’d hate to recommend specific things that your body might not need.
The next step will be to fill some of these nutritional gaps with food and lifestyle changes. The hope is that I can ditch most of the supplements after a few months as I learn how to get what I need from food. We haven’t gotten to that step yet (I have my next appointment this week), but I’ll keep you posted as I learn more in that arena.
After three months, we will see if my numbers have improved, based on all of these changes.
Good Things To Come
I’m really excited about this health journey of mine. I’ll be turning 35 in a few weeks and I want to do everything possible to feel my best, year after year!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. And I’d also love to hear if you’ve visited a functional medicine doctor before. I’m trying to get my mom and Finn to go next because I just find the health insights to be so fascinating and motivating!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.