Friday, January 11, 2008

Slightly smudged bill of health

First of all, you guys, you are all amazing. I was so nervous to publish my post yesterday, and then the incredible outpouring of support and love and encouragement that you all gave me, through emails and comments and links from your own blogs, made me feel so much better, and affirmed to me that publishing that post was the right thing to do. And I'm glad that so many of you were able to relate, and that those of you who couldn't relate on a personal level felt that you learned something from it.

Anyway, after such an intensely personal post, I would normally try to lighten it up, but apparently this is the Week of Serious Posts (with the exception of Monday's frivolous post on boots), because I want to talk about the doctor's appointment I had yesterday.

The day before yesterday the doctor's office called to tell me that I needed to come in to meet with the doctor about the result of my blood tests. Knowing this probably meant something was abnormal, I demanded to know if there was a problem. The nurse reluctantly said that there was, then tried to transfer me to the receptionist to make an appointment.

I had to fight with him. FIGHT. Just to get him to tell me which test came back abnormal. I was most worried about cholesterol, but as he told me, it was thyroid. Then he absolutely refused to disclose any further information.

I've never had a doctor refuse to give me my lab results over the phone before. This doctor is not one that I selected carefully, and honestly, I don't like him that much. He's thorough for sure, but he and his staff do not make me feel comfortable, and I never feel like I have full information. He's a GP and an OB-GYN, and the only reason I went to him was because I needed my pill prescription refilled, and I don't much care which doctor does that, so I picked the closest guy in my insurance company's network.

Had I known that it would turn into a whole thing with blood tests and whatnot, I would have done more research and picked a highly-recommended doctor, but I had no clue, so now I'm stuck with this guy whose office policy is not to tell patients about their own lab results without first getting a co-pay out of them. And I am not impressed.

Anyway, they wanted me to come in on January 18, but I informed them in no uncertain terms that I would not be waiting that long to be told what was wrong with me, and wrangled an appointment for the next day. So I went yesterday afternoon after work, and after handing over my stupid co-pay and receiving a lecture from the nurse about how I should not try to push them to give me my lab results over the phone in the future, was informed that I have hypothyroidism.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. First of all, all my other tests came back normal, which means that I don't have diabetes, high cholesterol, or any other health problems that are often associated with being overweight. Also, my blood pressure is a perfect 120/70. And if I'm going to have a health condition, this is a pretty good one to have.

Basically, it means that my thyroid, which controls the metabolism, is underactive. Thus, my metabolism is too slow. It is impressive, therefore, that I have managed to lose over 50 pounds on Weight Watchers with hypothyroidism. The treatment is straightforward, too--a single dose of synthetic thyroid hormone, every day for the rest of my life.

It's not quite that clear-cut--the doctor drew some more blood to check out other hormone levels in my body to get a more complete picture of my thyroid, and I also need to visit an endocrinologist to get fully checked out. This will ensure that my hypothyroidism isn't caused by a more serious condition (which is unlikely). The endocrinologist will also be able to monitor my blood levels to establish exactly what dose of synthetic hormone I need.

Also, because the synthetic hormone replaces a hormone that your body is supposed to produce naturally, there shouldn't be any side effects of taking it. It's not like birth control where you intentionally alter your body's hormone levels in order to stop ovulation--instead, you're just restoring equilibrium.

So the short version of this drawn-out story? I have a medical condition that slows my metabolism down. Which means that the treatment that I'm about to start will increase my metabolism. Which means that Weight Watchers should become more effective than ever. And in every other way, I'm healthy.

Not wholly bad news, huh?

60 comments:

lspoon said...

Oh wow. I hate doctors that don't tell you whats wrong and instead make you freak out over what could turn out to be nothing.

Have a great weekend.

Stephanie said...

So glad that that's what this turned out to be. You're right, it could be much worse and hopefully now you will be even MORE successful with WW.

Also, 64 comments yesterday!? You rock!

Tessie said...

I feel ANGRY reading this. Very angry. I am imagining things I would like to SAY to a bitch who suggests that I not ask for MY OWN GODDAMNED MEDICAL INFORMATION over the phone without paying for it first. ARGG.

I am sorry about the health news, but you seem to have a good attitude about it as always.

Deutlich said...

Definitely not. I'm glad it's nothing super duper serious (like diabetes) because.. well.. that'd suck, to put it lightly.

Hope you have a great friday, hon!!

violet said...

glad to hear things are on solid ground - improving even! but i am also angered by this - new york has made me realize (probably not NY's fault i suppose) just how effed up this country's health care system is. grrrr.

Pickles & Dimes said...

I am seething about the speech the nurse gave you about demanding your own medical results. And that you had to pay another copay just to hear it. BS.

That said, I am more proud of you than ever that you lost the weight with a thyroid issue. Congrats! I'm glad you have a diagnosis and a treatment that will hopefully make things easier for you in the future.

JMC said...

You are one gutsy broad, arguing with everyone like that. *Applause* Now I would see about changing your doctor. Thyroid issues run in my family, so I've had bloodwork done to check for them several times. It's good that you know what's wrong and that it's so easily dealt with.

d e v a n said...

Stupid Dr. :/
However, this is actually GOOD - because raising your metabolism to normal levels will be awesome for you! yay!

Saly said...

Oh Jess………

I’m going to email you. I have so much to say about this that I almost got in to yesterday, but then figured nah.

Bottom line, I went through all of this 10 years ago, after moving out of my parent’s house and gaining 50 lbs over the course of a year and a half and being told that it must be my diet and being made to feel like I was crazy.

For you to have lost 50 lbs under these circumstances is truly amazing.

Jennie said...

As if having to hear the lecture over the phone wasn't excruciating enough, they gave it to you again in person? Insane.

If it had to be bad news at all, I'm glad it was this news.

Le Petit Chic said...

First, sorry you had to deal with such an incooperative doctor. He sounds awful! And second, I'm glad your news turned out okay. At least you can breath a sigh of relief and know that it's a condition that you can keep under control!

dreamgirl said...

thats actually really GOOD news, i mean if you had to have a sickness, its cool that you can now take a medicine that will help with the weight loss, and should make you feel 100% better about the weight gain in the first place - i can't wait to hear the results once you start the meds!

Clink said...

I can't believe that he wouldn't tell you the problem over the phone. That's outrageous.

And it's truly amazing that you lost weight despite the thyroid problem - go on girl! You rock!

Alice said...

good for you for standing up to the bully doctor's office! ARGH that makes me mad. i've had SO MANY bad experiences with doctors in this area. it's obscene.

glad to hear this is an easily handled, ultimately beneficial prognosis :-)

3carnations said...

It's pretty common, I think, for abnormal test results to not be disclosed over the phone. I think they do it because you are going to have lots of questions that the nurse on the phone can't necessarily answer. They did that to me when I was finally diagnosed with MS - They left messages at home and work and asked my work for my cell phone number (which they don't have), and when I finally got ahold of them, they said I needed to come in the next morning and I should have someone with me. Scared the heck out of me. Like you, with all the things it COULD have been...My diagnosis didn't seem so bad.

Maxie said...

My sister had the same problem. She lost a ton of weight when they started medicating her. I guess since this runs in my family I really should get it checked out, but I'm so lazy. I hate going to the doctor.

Glad you're okay though!

Rebecca said...

Hey There - Glad to hear that most of your test results were stupendous! I'm sure your doc is doing his homework and all that but please please make sure they recheck your thyroid level. I recently was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and part of me was like, "Yay!" There is something to blame for my weight. But, I really don't like the idea of taking meds, especially hormones for the rest of my life, so I insisted we double check before I went on the meds. We did - and my thyroid was fine. Also, since checking the thyroid is part of routine lab work in an annual physical - you might want to go back and see what it was a year or two ago. Everyone is different, and this is just my story - but I would get it double checked. Find a great endo and work with that person to keep an eye on it.

Congrats on everything else though! Sorry for the looooong comment.

pessimisticredhead said...

I have hyperthyroidism and for me, it has proven to be a very small deal. I go see my endocrynologist every 3 months but am told this could get less frequent. Also, there is a good chance that once you are on meds for awhile, your levels will fix themselves and you will not have to be on meds forever, unless you end up getting your thyroid dissolved. You will be fine, I know it from first hand experience. Good luck!

A Margarita said...

Ugh, I hate when they refuse to tell you what's wrong and you have to wait for an appointment. Glad everything looks good :)

ttcmb said...

I can't believe that he wouldn't tell you over the phone and then the nurse told you not to pressure them. That is ridiculous. I recommend finding a new doctor, one who isn't so concerned with a co-pay.

I'm glad you are going to see an endocrinologist. Your right, this should make WW so much easier. It is absolutely amazing what you have been able to accomplish with a slow thyroid. You must be one determined woman!

L Sass said...

That is just bad medical care! It makes me huffy just reading your story!

But, glad that it's just hypothyrodism. Not that it's a small thing, but my mom suffered from it and it's been pretty manageable for her.

Nilsa S. said...

You have such a good outlook on your health. Impressive!

Tilly said...

Boo! And YAY!! Great that you can start being even MORE healthy!

Ashley said...

Doctors really have a way to piss me off. I had one refer to a procedure which I had to have done like slicing meat at the deli counter and i had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the operating room because that is just not an image I EVER NEEDED TO HAVE.

I'd be sooo mad if they refused to give me lab results over the phone. You have every right to know, especially if something is abnormal!!

My mom has hypothyroidism and the thyroid meds shes on definitely has helped her out a lot!

Banana said...

Not bad news at all. I think my mom has the same issue, and with medication all problems went away like magic.

Also, Good for you for standing up to the doctor. I would have been snarky on the phone and then spent a week worrying I was dying.

autobiographyofmyfeet said...

That's actually pretty good news! I mean, being told something is wrong is NEVER good news, but getting this news is much better than getting some other kind of news from you Dr ;)

Also, while it will suck to have to take a med every day - as you so rightly point out, this can only help with WW! (kudos to you to look at this positively!)

heidikins said...

I am trying not to throw ice-picks at your doctor for the with-holding of YOUR personal, medical, information. Are they allowed to do that? Seriously. That's messed up.

But I'm glad it's something maneagable, and that when it's treated will give you greater success in WW!

xox

alyndabear said...

Wow - that really DOES make losing 50lbs seem incredible. You're just that awesome ;)

bridgid said...

Good for you for making them tailor their medical care to your needs. When I originally got the phone call telling me about the cancer, I had to wait a full month before they even had time to schedule me for the biopsies. Also, it's good to hear that everything looks as though it's going to be alright!

Kat said...

Yesterday's co-pay would be the LAST co-pay this physician would EVER see from me again. Period. End of Subject.

sally said...

Finding and changing doctors can be an incredible pain in the ass but as someone who received bad care from a doctor and ignored the little bells going off in her head...all I can say is if you are unhappy for any reason, change.

fully operational battle station said...

Pretty good news, I would say! It's great discover these things and it explains to much about how our bodies have been acting. And, easy fix is good fix.

Nice work Jerk Dr. Guy!

Jamie

Marie said...

I think I'm a little disturbed by the fact that the doctor's office refused to tell you what was wrong over the phone. Clearly they only care about the money coming in. I hope you can find someone who actually cares about YOU.

Hope everything else goes well and I'm glad as you said it wasn't a lot worse.

A Lil' Irish Lass said...

In a way, that's such great news!

As for the doctor, I think it's often common practice for offices not to give detailed information over the phone. Certainly, no non-medical staff should be giving you any lab result information over the phone. As for the doctor himself, he can technically do that, but I they don't usually have the time to go into any depth and answer questions you might have. In my experience it's standard operating procedure to have you come back in so they can walk through it slowly. Also, a lot of patients flip out over any diagnosis and freak out, and a phone conversation lends itself to that kind of problem more than a face-to-face. I don't think it's just for the copay.

Of course, I once had my OB/GYN's office call to say I had an irregular pap and that it PROBABLY WASN'T CERVICAL CANCER. WTF!?!?!

each of the two said...

this is going to sound perverse, but thats sounds frickin great... where can i get those metabolism upping pills?

Artemisia said...

Ugh. I hate the smug self-righteousness and arrogance of the medical community at large.

Hello?! We have a right and responsibility to be actively engaged in our health and care!!!

Good for you, standing up like that.

*pumps fist in the air* Down with the smugness and rudeness!

I am really glad to hear this is something that is treatable and likely not harmful. Whew!

Captain Backfire said...

I say it's not a bad thing AT ALL. Because like you said, this means Weight Watches will start going even better. I mean, look at all you did with the condition, and now you're fixing it? That's awesome. Sucks about the doctor's office though, how rude. Start looking for a new one.

ana said...

You managed losing over 50 pounds with a slow metabolism, that is commendable....

I'm sorry to hear about the thyroid problem, but thank god it is only this and nothing more. You seem to have a great attitude about it...

and find yourself a new doctor....have a good weekend!!

A.P. said...

ugh... i recently went in to get my pills prescription renewed and my doctor wasn't very nice either. i felt like it was such a hassle to her for me to be there. so i can relate a bit.

and although it sucks for the hyperthyroidism thing...how cool WW will work even better! you're already such an inspiration- because i'm already struggling. ugh! *trying to do it on my own...

Swistle said...

1) This is going to be VERY INTERESTING, to see what happens with WW once you start on the meds.

2) DITTO TESSIE. I am rehearsing choice words in my head. My heart is actually pounding hard, I'm so mad. I know it's standard, and that they have good reasons for it, but they should NOT be bitching you out---and if I had my way, it wouldn't be allowable to charge a co-pay for that, since it's really the second part of the original appointment.

amber said...

What an asshole! I would have told that lady that you will ask for your PERSONAL medical information whenever you so choose! Raar, people like that anger me.

I have hypothyroidism, too, and am incredibly proud (and impressed) by your ability to drop 50 lbs without meds, because I could never do it.

Erin said...

Wow--what if it was a serious condition and you couldn't afford your co-pay? Stupid doctors ratsafratsahgrurgrrrrrrrrr. I wouldn't have let them do the tests. Instead I'd have taken my medical records from that office and found a better doctor. Maybe. I'm all talk and no walk :)

Damsel in Digress said...

i am so angry for you about your doctor. i had a similar experience with mine and once i finally did get to her office, i very much wanted to say something like, "ok. and now will you check my blood pressure? because the stress you caused me probably means it has SKYROCKETED PERMENANTLY."

you are a rockstar for all that weight you lost without even knowing about your thyroid condition. it's so exciting that you'll be able to "normalize" it hence forth. have a great weekend, jess!

theotherbear said...

I'm not sure doctors here are even allowed to give results over the phone. However we have a medicare setup so our taxes pay most of our doctors bills. Good news that you've caught the thyroid thing. I had mine checked a while ago when my aunt was diagnosed with Hashimotos. I don't have a thyroid problem so mine is just fat.

j.m. tewkesbury said...

What a relief! And about yesterday's post: I think you were very courageous. I wish more people would look past what's on the outside, because they'd discover that what's on the inside is simply incredible!

distractedspunk said...

1) Similar thing happened to me. It took the doctor's office a week to figure out if I had mono or not, and they kept playing games about getting back to me on that subject.

2) My mother has hyperthyroidism and my sister and grandmother have hypo. Randomly enough, I've been tested for it multiple times, well before any of them were diagnosed. I'm proud of you! Either way, it's not a matter of having a condition with a slow metabolism - it's about your perseverance and your goals towards making a weight you desire and are comfortable with a reality. Rock on!

jonniker said...

I'm hypothyroid, too. Severely so. Your attitude about the medications is exactly right -- it's not meds, per se, it's a replacement for what your body should be making.

I can't recommend the book "Living Well with Hypothyroidism" by Mary Shomon enough. And if you want to have children, this is a condition you really have to monitor, too -- I'm going through that aspect of it now, and it's a pain in the ass

(Also loved yesterday's post, but am late and didn't read it until today as our Internets were out)

PixelPi said...

My doctor in 1985 listened to my symptoms, and immediately said, "You're depressed." Confused, I asked if he could do some blood work before shipping me off to a shrink. So he called me 7 days later, all excited, and says, "It's NOT depression! You've just got low thyroid." He wrote up the old thyroid replacement prescription, and my hair stopped falling out and I could stay awake more than 10 hours.

I've been taking replacement thyroid (levothyroxine)since then with no side effects, the ability to stay awake, and a new doctor.

flutter said...

I am actually glad you got this news, because it will be something that is relatively easy to treat for you.

That is excellent.

nicoleantoinette said...

I find that sometimes, it's just so much better to know what's wrong and go from there. I'm thankful that you don't have anything too serious to worry about and that there's a silver lining for you! :)

crystall said...

Thank God it's not something serious & it's something that is treatable and will help you in the long run.

And uh...what about a new doctor!? That's crazy mean.

Penny said...

Sucky doctors. Glad it was diagnosed early though, it may help you feel better physically and even mentally, if that's an issue too.

Libby said...

i once heard women mentioning how thyroid problems can stall weight loss. i'm glad you have meds to combat it!

sid said...

Wow you lost fifty pounds even tho you have a thyroid problem. I'm glad its just a thyroid problem. I was worried that it might be cancer. Your doctor is an ass.

shay said...

It is good news actually! Sorry you had to fight to get it though - weird.

Both my mil and her mom have a form of this and the synthetic hormone has worked well for both for years. I think you'll find your weight will begin to fall off of you. Or I hope it will anyway.

50lbs on Weight watchers is something amazing to celebrate! My sil and her sil both lost 30 and I lost 12 (I know, how lame does that sound right?! but I just couldn't loose it alone). I love WW. We're all on maintenance now.

Congrats and good luck with the rest. I added you to my blog roll because I love reading your posts!

real siyan shanghai said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Emblita said...

Stupid doctor! But yay! that the health news isn't all bad.
It is a sad testament of society that you felt so nervous about talking about being overweight. I'm glad you did, its an important discussion to have. A few (or many) extra pounds do NOT make you less of a person.

Leaf, probably... said...

Wow your health system is a bit fucked up...

Hiya, I'm Kristie. said...

I was diagnosed with that too, a few months ago. Other than not being able to lose baby weight in a 'normal' way I had other issues such as hot flashes and severe wrist pain. I took the meds for a while until my body recouped from childbirth and now I think I'm back on track.

I hope that the meds help you even more in your weight loss journey!

Trigger said...

So, I'm going to stick my neck out here in the midst of a sea of doctor hating folks here, and hope I don't get pelted with tomatoes. ;) As someone who's been a patient before, and now is in the field of medicine, I just wanted to help shed some light a bit about what's going on when they don't disclose abnormal test results over the phone.

In the department I work for, we have that policy, and it definitely isn't about money, or co-pays. Like some of the other comments here explain, it's about getting you information from the right medical personnel. A nurse can only disclose so much, or be risking her license to practice nursing. A receptionist/scheduler has no business talking about anything besides when you next appointment is, how to best get ahold of your doctor directly, administrative things like that. And yes, a doctor could give those results over the phone, but like Lil said, often they just don't have hours in the day to do that (trust me, the ones I work with keep insane hours), and they are better able to discuss your options in person. Also, bringing you in for a face to face visit is a good opportunity for them to get more blood tests if necessary, to dispense prescriptions, to properly discuss how to take medication, and to really give you time to ask questions, etc.

I know the field can be frustrating to deal with - there are so many rules about who can do what according to whom, and there's lots of waiting, and bills: the bills are horrid! But a lot of that is due to a structure in modern medicine that had to be implemented because of insurance companies, HMOs, lawsuits, and other negative influences that have little to do with you and your personal experience with healthcare in the grand scheme of things, but definitely affects your individual experience with medicine. The patient is just the collateral damage in that whole issue, and I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with it.

I would hope that it might help if you could look at it as a hurdle that you had to jump over to get the better care - not the medical community out to get you.

That said, there are less than exceptional doctors out there, and if you don't feel like yours is a good match, you should definitely seek out someone you're more comfortable with. I wish you luck with getting the thyroid levels sorted out, and hope you feel better taking the synthetic hormone.