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Frances Tulk-Hart

Frances Tulk-Hart is a visual artist and photographer who has worked with the likes of J.Crew, Warby Parker, Goop, you name it—not to mention a singer and a mother, too. And she’s done it all while dealing with Hashimoto’s disease. The British-born multi-hyphenate gets honest about her worst medical experience, the upside to having a thyroid condition, and the secret to fighting chronic illness: lifestyle, lifestyle, lifestyle
by Sollis Health

When were you diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease?

I think it was around 2012 I got diagnosed, but that was it. No treatment went into place then!

What’s been the hardest part, and how has living with Hashimoto’s affected your day-to-day —from your career, to your family life, to your emotional wellbeing?

I am always cold. Even in the middle of summer I’ll be wearing a sweater in the shade! My hair also is thinner in places.

In what ways does having a chronic condition influence the art you create as a photographer and artist?

If I am sitting at my desk I will get cold quickly and will have to layer up. Also I often photograph on location, a lot of the time in the cold, so it can get uncomfortably cold for me. But in general it doesn’t really affect my work.

“Your body does communicate everything to you. Listen to the symptoms it throws your way.”

What treatments have you tried? Have there ever been times you haven’t felt seen by your doctors, and what’s the worst medical horror story you can share with us?

This is where the story gets interesting. I went to see the thyroid doctor that was apparently “the best in the field.” He put me on the lowest levels of levothyroxine. A few weeks later, I started to get eczema on the inside of my elbows and between my fingers. I have never had eczema before. I went back to the doc and told him, but he had nothing to say about it. I asked him if there was anything I could do lifestyle/diet wise to treat Hashimoto’s. He looked at me blankly and said google it! So after that bulls*** I got in touch with a kinesiologist. One look at my symptoms and she told me the eczema was being caused by the levothyroxine drugs I was taking, which incidentally was also doing nothing at all for my thyroid but was making my body toxic. I stopped taking the drug and the eczema disappeared straight away. For the past seven years I’ve been taking a daily vitamin supplement the kinesiologist referred me to. I’ll have to take this for the rest of my life.

How has your approach to managing it evolved over time?

I might go and get all my hormones looked at again, see where we are at; any shifts that need to be taken care of. There is a doctor I listen to called Dr. Sara Gottfried, and she gives incredible information about what levels our hormones etc should be at and what tests we should get.

“I asked the thyroid doctor who was apparently ‘the best in the field’ if there was anything I could do lifestyle or diet wise to treat Hashimoto’s. He looked at me blankly and said google it!”

What kind of role does Sollis play in your life?

Even though I don’t live near a Sollis center, the ability to access a doctor 24/7 over the phone has been an incredible gift. No more late night googling.

If there’s a silver lining to having a chronic condition, what would you say it is?

The silver lining is everything I am learning about health in general when I research Hashimoto’s. There is so much information about diet and lifestyle. I love it, it is fascinating, and gives you agency over your life. Making changes has helped me with things like my energy levels, which used to be a roller coaster ride but are now for the most part even throughout the day.

What advice do you have for other people who might feel frustrated by dealing with an autoimmune disorder?

Research and be open minded. It is amazing how much a lifestyle change can help with your chronic illness. You will have to be proactive with your own health though, as most modern medicine docs want to give you a pill(s) and call it a day. It is not as simple as that—it is rarely one thing that is causing the problem. Dive deep, lads and lasses. Also your body does communicate everything to you, listen to the symptoms it throws your way.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Hashimoto’s, and is there anything you wish you could help people understand better?

From what I have read, this is a condition that can be dealt with by implementing the right lifestyle changes. According to Dr. Gundry, leaky gut is apparently the cause of all autoimmune diseases, so cure the gut and cure the disease. Lectins are the main offenders there, so that means either cutting out whole groups of food or cooking them in different ways to destroy the lectins. The medical medium meanwhile says that Epstein-Barr is the cause of most autoimmunes. It is fascinating all the things I am learning and the changes I try out in my life. In short though, modern medicine works to treat the symptoms, while functional doctors/naturopaths etc work to treat the disease itself and why it is there in the first place.
The views and opinions expressed in this campaign are those of the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sollis Health.
Sollis Health is a 24/7 doctor, private ER and concierge service rolled into one. Whether it’s an emergency or simply to diagnose the symptoms that you typically Google in the middle of the night, our emergency-trained doctors are ready for anything. Interested in becoming a Sollis member?


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