Disclosure: This post is sponsored by EverlyWell. I received a complimentary kit to review.
I’m always being asked to review things for this blog, from cannibus chewing gum to books to “healthy” snacks. Most of the time I hit delete. It takes a lot of work to try something and write reviews, so I only like to review things that I think my readers would truly care about. The EverlyWell at home health tests made the cut.
Because I had weight loss surgery (VSG) in November 2014, I have had a LOT of blood drawn. In fact I’m due for another complete workup as my surgiversary is approaching. But I’ve also been wondering about food sensitivities, as I have gained a little weight since slacking off on marathon training, and also I’ve been feeling a bit tired lately. I chalked it up to too much caffeine since we have a new espresso maker at work, but even after cutting back on caffeine and improving my diet I feel tired in the afternoon.
The Home Health Test Experience
The first test I took was an Inflammation and Vitamin D test. They mailed me a kit, along with instructions for poking myself with a needle type thing and dripping blood onto a piece of paper (there was a more technical term, but I forget what it was).
I read through the directions twice to make sure I understood it correctly, then pricked my finger, dropped the blood, sealed in the provided envelope, and dropped it off at the UPS store. A few weeks later I had an email with my results. Turns out I don’t have any inflammation, but my Vitamin D levels were low. This was not surprising because even before weight loss surgery I’ve had issues on and off with low Vitamin D. I do live in Michigan after all!
I appreciated the colorful, easy-to-read results. I was able to click on each item and it told me what the range was, what it meant, what I could do for it, and provided links to additional research. I have to admit, the whole experience was much nicer than making an appointment with my doctor, getting the lab paperwork, going in to the lab, and waiting for a list of results which I have to go back in to see the doctor to explain. A part of me did wonder about the accuracy of the results (when I go for my annual bloodwork, they take vials and vials). But I figured since it confirmed something I already suspected that it was probably fine.
In case you’re wondering about the whole testing yourself thing, this video is helpful:
The Taking Charge of Your Health Part
I didn’t realize the benefits of at-home testing until I took the second test, one that tested thyroid function. Like before, I read through the instructions and popped my blood in the mail. A week later I received a phone call from EverlyWell letting me know that my T3 tested low and that I should follow up with my physician. I wasn’t sure what to think, actually. After the phone call I received the results by email. I wondered about the accuracy. I talked to my mom, and she was like, “Oh, didn’t I ever tell you that your Grandma, aunt, and I all have thyroid issues?” Um no. When I started researching online, I realized that my primary physician would probably either send me to a specialist or prescribe a pill. I had weight loss surgery to get OFF of pills (high blood pressure, CPAP) and to avoid going on cholesterol and insulin. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in taking medication when it is necessary. But part of me wondered if there was another approach that I could take before going the pill route. I love my physician, but my past experience told me that if I wanted to get to the bottom of what was going on, and have everything taken into account (my thyroid, vitamin D, the acid reducer I’ve been on for the past year) I would need to go another route.
Here is where having a high deductible insurance is a blessing not a burden. If I had insurance that automatically paid for everything, I would have just gone to the doctor first and then to a specialist. But since I knew it would come out of my pocket anyway, I decided to seek out someone who practiced Integrative Medicine.
My Experience with Meeting an Integrative Medicine Doctor
I should mention that my previous experience with alternative medicine has been mixed. I was first introduced to the concept when I bought a Groupon for a massage at a chiropractor’s office. As part of the deal I got a free assessment. I had to hold on to vials and push back on his hand. I asked him how all this worked and he told me that it was very complicated and I wouldn’t understand. Then he told me I should avoid gluten and dairy and sold me a bag full of supplements. I wasn’t entirely sure what they were for, so I went home and Googled each of the bottles so I could piece it together.
My second experience was much better. A friend of mine traded naturopath services with me for marketing advice. She explained how the whole vial thing worked in a way that I could understand. I was still supposed to avoid dairy and wheat/gluten (boo). But she also did some energy work which I felt was very beneficial. Then I had my weight loss surgery and since I was losing weight and feeling better I sort of lost interest in energy work and supplements and all that jazz.
Until . . . I realized I was feeling kind of wonky and then the EverlyWell test indicated that I might have a thyroid condition. So I researched online and asked for recommendations and came across Dr. Linda, an actual medical doctor who also practices IM and specializes in thyroid treatment.
What struck me about her was how wise she seemed, and not just because she is of “Wise Woman” age. She truly listened to all my health complaints. I am used to 15 minute doctor appointments. She spent two and a half hours with me. I won’t go into all the details, but I felt confident in her assessments as they made a lot of sense, and I am hoping to be able to get off my acid reducer and other meds.
Back to the EverlyWell test, she ended up asking me to ask my doctor to test for Reverse T3 as that is important in figuring out why the thyroid is not performing. May doctors do not test for this, so I don’t fault EverlyWell for not including it in the thyroid test, but if they have a lot of customers who are working with integrative medicine doctors they may want to add it to their testing routine.
So About that Thyroid Thing
I am still in process of learning what is exactly wrong and how to treat it. And, as I mentioned, I will need to get retested so that the Reverse T3 can be included in the analysis. But I credit the EverlyWell test with helping me take the first step towards taking my health into my own hands and not relying exclusively on my doctor. Side note: Dr. Linda asked me to take a hormone test and she handed me a box with instructions very much like the EverlyWell kit! So there must be something tot his home testing thing.