People are always saying to me, “Mrs. Jelly Belly, why do you dislike doctors so much?” Well, okay, that’s a lie. No one has ever asked me that. But if they did, and if I was able to tie them up and force them to listen to my long, sad story for a couple of hours, following is what I would tell them about my 22-year battle with doctors.
So welcome to yet another 3-part mini-series (please direct hate mail to NaBloPoMo), this time relating to thyroid glands and doctors who just don’t care.
Suppose you started feeling sluggish and unusually tired even though you were getting enough sleep. Suppose, in addition, that you started to have problems with concentration and memory and that you no longer got any enjoyment from the things you once loved to do - and even the smallest task began to seem like too much trouble. What if your hair and skin got extremely dry and some of your hair even started to fall out?
If those things happened to you, a previously energetic, happy, focused person, you would most likely make a doctor's appointment, right? Assuming, of course, that you could conjure up the energy to pick up the phone to do that. Because you would want this thing fixed. And you would want it fixed now.
So suppose you get to the doctor's office and s/he tells you that it is all probably "nothing" and you are just rundown due to recent childbirth/menopause/menstrual cycle/burning the candle at both ends/the weather, blah blah blah, but s/he will humor you by having your blood tested.
Your blood tests all come back within the normal range. Your doctor pats you on the head, either literally or figuratively, and tells you to get some sleep and everything will be fine. In the meantime here is a prescription for Prozac. You are probably depressed. Even though you are very happy with your life, you take the prescription and pray that it will bring relief. It does not.
And although this same appointment happens over and over again over the course of ten years and under the care of five different doctors, no one ever considers it might be your thyroid gland. Because your blood work is all normal. Let's try different anti-depressants. We'll find one that will fix you. Don't you worry.
In the meantime, your life continues to fall apart because most days you just can't FOCUS or work up an INTEREST in anything. You have dropped out of school and your friendships and family relationships are faltering because you just can't maintain them. It's too hard to pick up a phone and have a conversation. To make plans. To follow through. Reading the daily newspaper is a thing of the past and you can't remember the last time you read a book. The time you spend with your children isn't of the quality you had always envisioned. Your marriage ends, partially because you just don't have the energy to try to fix it.
Until the day comes that your thyroid gland becomes so swollen you can’t swallow your food without fear of choking.
And now, because the Ear, Nose and Throat guy thinks you might have thyroid cancer, you are taken more seriously. For the first time, your thyroid gland is recognized as a potential culprit. Yes, perhaps your blood work might show a slight elevation of your TSH levels, and, oh, wait, there are tons of antibodies floating around in there attacking your thyroid gland. So let's get you biopsied, and sonogrammed and run some radioactive crap through your system just to see what we're dealing with here.
And you let them. Because they have given your problem a real name. Hashimoto's Disease. And now you are sure they are going to fix you. You feel hope.
To be continued...