Over the last few years, a number of health problems have flared up that I suspect might have something to do with each other: weight gain, fatigue, acid-reflux/loose stools (possibly related to gluten intolerance) and irregular periods. What kind(s) of doctor should I see? I'm in Minneapolis.
I'm 30 years old, female. Oh, and my insurance ends at the end of the year, so there's a deadline.
Weight gain: In 2002, I weighed 200 lbs, now I'm up to 248. This is a lot of weight to gain in 6 years, especially given that I was already quite overweight. There have been some lifestyle changes (went from working outside to a desk job) and my eating habits haven't been the best, but they haven't been the worst, either (whole grains, avg of 4-5 fruits and veggies a day, some junk food, some fast food). I also seem to have a harder time now losing weight: I did Weight Watchers two years ago and lost 15 pounds in six weeks by staying within points and following a Mediterranean-style diet. But this last spring I went back, tried to do the same thing, and lost nothing.
Acid-reflux/loose stools: this has been a problem for a while, but recently has gotten painful enough for me to cut out gluten. I had noticed that my heartburn was much, much worse about an hour after eating anything with wheat in it several years ago, but was sort of in denial and didn't want to give up gluten. Anyway, I started a gluten-free diet this week and poof! No heartburn, and my stools are all nice and firm.
Fatigue: I've been feeling easily fatigued and a bit mentally fuzzy for the last few months. The fatigue is actually helped a LOT by the lack of gluten - I've had a ton of energy this week. But the mental fuzziness is still there. I've always been scatterbrained, but it's reaching ADD levels now.
Irregular periods: this is the part that is freaking me out most and thinking I need medical attention stat. My periods used to be extremely regular - you could set your calendar to them. But this winter they started getting all screwy. After I moved and entered a very stressful phase at work, I skipped one month and then had a super-heavy flow the month after that. Then I quit my job and moved across the country for a new one. I skipped two months and then had a period that lasted, intermittently, for 3 weeks. I know I should have gone to the gyno, but I was hoping this was all due to stress. Well, again I had a long stretch (6 weeks) between periods, and am now in the middle of another long period (2 weeks so far). And these periods are quite heavy, with mucousy chunks in them.
So of course I've been googling my symptoms like mad, and scaring the hell out of myself. According to what I've seen, it could be celiac's (which would address all my issues), a thyroid condition (which would cover the weight, fatigue and menstrual stuff but not necessarily the gastro issues) or - eep! - diabetes (which covers the weight, fatigue and menstrual stuff but not the gastro/gluten issues). And then there's PCOS, which seems to be sort of a catchall.
So now I really want to get this stuff resolved. But it seems like I need to see a gastroenterologist, a endocrinologist, AND a gyno. I got an appointment with a gastro RN for the week after next, but the others have months-long waits. And that's where the time issue comes in: the job I moved here for is just till the end of the year (it was a contract position but they gave me benefits). I can get COBRA after that, and probably will, but I will be moving again, this time to be closer to family and look for a new job. So I'm hesitant to start a rotation of seeing different kinds of doctors, only to have my quest interrupted at the end of the year and have to start all over again.
So, after that long and rambly set-up, my question is: is there one kind of doctor that I can see who will be able to help me address all of these issues? Perhaps some sort of holistic MD? I don't want to go the homepathic route to the exclusion of traditional western medicine, but it would be great to find a doctor that would work with me across sub-specialties and would be knowledgable about stuff like diet and lifestyle in addition to perscriptions. I realize this is the role primary care physicians are supposed to play, but I don't have one with my current plan, and can't get an appointment with a GP till...January (I called several).
And yes, before people jump all over me for this, I do realize it's possible that all these things could be discrete, unrelated symptoms. But given that they have all gotten worse at approximately the same time, I'd like to see someone who will be able to see those patterns if they are there. From talking to friends and other research, I know that these symptoms are often related.
So does anyone have thoughts on the kind of doctor I should be looking for in general, and maybe some recommendations in Minneapolis? Here's my throwaway email:email@example.com.