I hate that I am on meds.

I realize that medicines are or once were tested on animals (as required by law) and that is, of course, not vegan. On the other hand, if your body isn’t functioning properly without the pills, you risk not being at the top of your game so that you can speak up and fight for animals. My friends, this is a dilemma.

Five or so years ago, I finally went to a doctor after a ten year refusal due to horrible bedside manner and little help from one I’d never recommend to anyone. I won’t bore you with the specifics of my symptoms, but I will tell you that I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Synthetic thyroid hormone and birth control pills seem to be keeping symptoms at bay.

My thyroid hormone levels have been stable and I’ve been on the same dosage for a few years now. I have not cut out soy products (though I did ask my endo when I first went vegan) or cruciferous vegetables, which are goitrogens. I’ve begun taking a Vitamin D supplement as I am otherwise extremely deficient (blame that on my physical relation to the equator) and this affects the thyroid. I have been reading up on iodine and other vitamins and minerals as well.

Sure, I’m feeling okay and my body seems to be functioning properly. Sure, my bloodwork looks great. But the underlying problems are still there. I know this because an endocrinologist said I had to take the thyroid pills for the rest of my life and the HBC till menopause.

I am not happy about this. When I brought it up to my primary doctor last year, she said maybe it was time to look for second opinions. More strange faces, more blood work, more tests, more insurance red tape? As you may have guessed, I haven’t gone for a second opinion yet.

I would like nothing more than to let food be my medicine. It’s difficult when doctors don’t have a nutritional background… much less a plant-based one. In a 2010 national survey, it was found that only twenty-seven percent of accredited U.S. medical schools were meeting the National Academy of Science’s required twenty-five hours of nutrition instruction. It’s also difficult when you are still working through more than thirty years of being brainwashed by society, commercials, billboards, and your community into thinking a certain way about food… and medicine. Add in the fact that you aren’t confrontational and there’s a whole other set of circumstances to deal with.

But here’s the thing: it’s important, as vegans, to be at the top of our game so that we can speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. So why wouldn’t we treat ourselves the same way? Vegans and non-vegans alike will tell you that you must be your own advocate when it comes to your health. It’s up to each and every one of us to ask questions, seek answers, and research ways that we can gain optimum health in the best way possible. We should also never forget to be compassionate with ourselves, as it’s very easy to feel like you’re at fault for your body’s own failings.

Do you have health issues that present an ethical dilemma for you?  Perhaps something like this?  Do you struggle with the role of traditional medicine in your healthcare? How do you handle it?

Photo credit Fillmore Photography via Flickr