Functional Medicine Helps Woman Regain Her Life After 44 Years of Chronic Pain

For more than four decades, Cindy Tedrow was overwhelmed with one chronic illness after another.

Her symptoms began 44 years ago, shortly after the birth of her first son, when she was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

After the birth of her second son, Cindy’s list of ailments grew, spanning the alphabet from A to Z: arthritis, autoimmune deficiencies, blood sugar issues, fainting spells, fatigue, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, mitral valve prolapse, unexplained seizures and more.

“My illnesses changed the lives of my family,” says Cindy, who lives on a farm in Delta, Ohio. “When I would see the fear and concern in my husband’s face or hear the concern in my mother’s voice, it cut me to the core. The hardest thing was when my youngest son said, ‘Mom, I never remember you being well,’ that hurt me.”

Getting through each day was a challenge, yet Cindy persevered --- teaching, raising her family, and searching for answers.

 

“I can’t tell you how many doctors I’ve visited over my lifetime, probably 25-30,” says Cindy. “They would treat each individual symptom, but no one knew how to cure me.”

It wasn’t until Cindy discovered Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and its 10-week “Functioning for Life” program, that she finally began living a life of wellness.

The Center for Functional Medicine is under the direction of Mark Hyman, MD, an internationally recognized leader in the field of functional medicine, which seeks to improve the management and prevention of complex chronic diseases by treating the body as a whole organism, rather than simply a collection of organs.

Cindy shared her inspiring success story for the Cleveland Clinic podcast “The Comeback.”
Cindy and Dr. Hyman share her inspiring success story for the Cleveland Clinic podcast “The Comeback.”

According to Dr. Hyman, Cindy achieved a more than 60 percent reduction in all disease symptoms after just eight weeks in the program. Why? Because his collaborative team of physicians, nurse practitioners, dieticians, behavioral health therapists and other specialists assessed the causes of her symptoms and treated them in a coordinated fashion.

“I like to joke that we take care of people with a ‘whole’ list of problems, which is why we call ourselves ‘holistic’ doctors,” Dr. Hyman explains. “Functional medicine is about connecting the dots, a model of thinking that tackles the whole puzzle of complex chronic diseases.”

In Cindy’s case, her Functioning for Life team quickly determined her food intake was out of balance and that she had massive nutritional deficiencies, including low levels of vitamin B and magnesium. After changing her diet and some medications, Cindy almost instantly began feeling better because the inflammation in her gut and other areas of her body, which had caused many of her symptoms, began to dissipate.

“Food works better, faster and is cheaper than most drugs,” explains Dr. Hyman. “Food is not just calories. It’s actually information, and it changes your brain chemistry, your hormones, your immune system, your gut flora and your gene expression with every bite.”

As a result of her new lifestyle, Cindy lost 80 pounds over the course of nine months, stopped having seizures, cut back on her medications and regained control of her life.

Her advice to others? “You have to be your own advocate; you have to do it for yourself. Keep searching and never give up.”

“Cindy’s story is remarkable,” says Dr. Hyman. “I hope it inspires others to take this step and get this kind of help. Functional medicine provides such a simple roadmap. It’s doable.”

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