Meet Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, NP
A personal note from Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, NP
“A goiter influenced my health journey – and my medical career.”
Years ago, when I was pregnant with my son, I developed a goiter. My doctor checked my hormone levels, and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland. I was told to take prescription thyroid medication but wasn’t given any other advice.
For 10 years, we kept monitoring my levels and kept bumping up the medication.
Overall, I was healthy, but this was a significant and ongoing challenge in my personal health journey. During those 10 years, I saw 4 or 5 doctors to manage this disease. I kept asking, “Why did this happen to me? What’s going on with my body?” Again and again, the answer was simply: “This is common. It doesn’t matter what’s causing it. We just need to keep increasing the dosage.”
After 10 years, I was finally tested for thyroid antibodies. When the test results came back positive, I was told I have an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s.
Taking a step back for a minute, my personal health journey actually began in childhood.
When I was a kid, my mom worked for a Chinese medicine doctor who treated patients with acupuncture and herbs. Growing up, I got a lot of exposure to medicine approaches that are beyond the conventional, traditional approach. Plus, my mom had a deep understanding of the importance of nutrition. (She was way ahead of her time.) In the 1970s she read Sugar Blues by William Dufty, so there were no sugary treats in the house, ever!
As an adult and as a Registered Nurse, I knew that nutrition and lifestyle factors really do matter. They can make a BIG impact on your health. But this collided with the thyroid advice I kept hearing: “Take this drug; none of that other stuff matters.”
Worse, as a nurse working in conventional medicine, I sometimes felt I was doing more harm than good due to mandatory requirements. For example, pregnant women in the hospital could splurge and order ANY type of food they wanted. We nurses were instructed to simply calculate the number of carbs and adjust their medications accordingly. No one ever questioned this practice, but it felt crazy to me. This was not healthy for mother or baby!
The feeling that I was contributing to someone’s illness – rather than to their health and wellbeing – was enraging. Something had to change.
Thanks to my mom, I’ve always been interested in nutrition and so-called alternative medicine. I started reading more, so I could be more educated for my patients and to learn more about Hashimoto’s disease. I thought, “There has to be a reason my thyroid is off. There has to be another answer besides throwing more meds at it.”
In my reading, I learned that gut health is a component of autoimmune illnesses like Hashimoto’s. When I realized nutrition had such a big impact, I completely changed my diet. I took out gluten and started eating a huge amount of vegetables. I also started meditating and ensuring I was getting enough sleep. As a result, my seasonal allergies improved, I had less joint pain, my energy improved, and I had more clarity. I’m continuing with a moderate dose of medication, but my symptoms are minimal and manageable. Healing my gut made a big difference in my health and vitality. I feel good. In fact, I feel great!
Also in my reading, I came across doctors who were practicing something called “functional medicine.” It wasn’t strictly Western, and it wasn’t Eastern or alternative. The idea is simple: Practice medicine based on current research. It’s an approach to medicine that makes sense.
Something clicked. I thought, “This is what I have to do.”
I decided to go back to school. I would get a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree with the intention of becoming a functional medicine Nurse Practitioner. And that’s what I did! I started networking with functional medicine doctors in Colorado and attending large conferences – that’s where I met Dr. Jacqui Pariset. We opened this practice together. I feel blessed to be mentored by her and have this incredible opportunity to help our patients.
Functional medicine is a wonderful way of healing.
What’s fabulous about functional medicine? It takes into account the whole person: your unique health journey, nutrition, sleep, relationships, medication, and more. Everything about functional medicine speaks to me. It’s incredibly rewarding to see patients get better. They often come to us after years and years of seeing doctors and taking powerful prescription meds and not getting anywhere.
With functional medicine, we keep digging and digging until we get results.
Patients absolutely love that we spend time with them, listening closely as they tell their own health story – that alone is very healing for them. Plus, I find it very fulfilling. As we guide patients toward wellness, we put the power – the responsibility and control – back in their hands instead of a paternalistic medical system.
We empower our patients to be their own advocate. We empower them to take steps to be healthy. After all, I believe you’re the one who knows what’s best for you.