Doctor or Psychiatrist which will it be?
by Susan Bunts Wachtel
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“You are so lucky!” Those are the first words I heard from my sister Denise when I told her that the doctor said I have a thyroid problem. I was thinking “Hunh”. But then Denise proceeded to explain that if you have a thyroid problem…once it’s corrected you can loose weight easily. Well I guess I hadn’t thought of it exactly like that…but…well hey that doesn’t sound too bad.
For some time now…I’ve been feeling so bad. Positively wretched. So much so that I finally broke down and went to the doctor. Going to the doctor…is about as rare as going to the dentist use to be. That is until last year that is…then things changed.
But by now…even Stoic Susan had to admit…that perhaps a little visit to the doctor couldn’t hurt. Hey…it might even make things better. Well at least it’s worth a try. Brave little me scheduled my doctor’s appointment.
A couple of days after my appointment and blood tests, I got a call from my doctor’s office advising me to go back for further blood tests because it looked like I have problem with my thyroid. The second blood test was more detailed…and indeed confirmed that opinion.
After that…it was off to nuclear medicine for a “Thyroid Uptake Test”. Prior to this test…I had to make sure I wasn’t taking any supplements with iodine. Don’t know the ins and outs about it…but apparently iodine is a naughty no no…when you’re having that test.
The test involved swallowing a radioactive iodine capsule and then having the energy levels and thyroid uptake measured. The one machine was kind of funky. The technician positioned an instrument right above my knee and measured…who knows what. He then took another reading near my thyroid gland. That same night I went back for an additional scan. This one took longer…and despite being in uncomfortable positions for a ½ hour…I found myself dosing off during the scans. The following day…was a quick visit…that entailed the funky scan once again. All in all…painless and quick.
Then I waited. In the mean time…I had a referral to an Endocrinologist so I scheduled an appointment. Unlike the blood test results…these test result weren’t posted on line. On Friday I got a call from my doctor…advising me that the Thyroid Uptake Test confirmed that I have a thyroid problem called Graves disease…and now my care will be handled by the Endocrinologist.
Honest and truly…I was feeling so bad that if it wasn’t something physical…I was ready to go to a psychiatrist. I think I’ve known for a while that there was something wrong. Finally it got to the point where I was feeling so bad…I was thinking something seriously has to be wrong.
When the doctor said Graves disease…I was surprised because I thought my symptoms were more consistent with a hypothyroid…not hyper. But apparently that ain’t so. Who knew that one little gland could wreak so much havoc. Fatigue was probably symptom number one…then I’d say fuzzy head. I feel like I can’t think clearly like I’m in a fog. Then there were the things like dry eyes and anxiety and nervousness. I think the thing that finally put it over the top…the thing that scared me the most…was muscle weakness. To pick up a gallon bottle of water is hard. Not impossible…but difficult. I really have to concentrate to do it. That’s was inspired me to go to the doctor. I know I’m getting older…but nevertheless…there was something wrong.
I never knew the thyroid effected so many areas of the body. These days I think I know what a narcoleptic feels like. If I sit down for any length of time without being active…I can fall asleep. One day…I was working on a spreadsheet…importing data from one sheet into another…and in the middle of it I almost fell asleep. A quick walk around the hallways and a Coke and Snickers later…I was able to get through the day. I find I’m always tired…five hours of sleep or eight…it doesn’t matter… because I’m always tired.
I’ve come to find out that the fatigue stems from the fact that my heart is beating faster. Even at night while I’m resting…it’s going along lickety split. So I might be sleeping…but my body’s not resting. The other thing is it makes me feel anxious…like when you have an adrenaline rush from being scared. It’s kind of weird…because I feel that way most of the time. When I feel anxious all the time…it’s hard to know…when I should really feel anxious and when everything is actually A-okay.
Later this week…I’m off to visit the endocrinologist. I’m quite anxious (no pun intended) to see him. I can wait to be feeling better. Just to have a normal energy level…and not be so tired all the time. To be able to think clearly and not feel like I was just frightened. As of late…I’ve adopted some pretty bad habits…just to get though the day. Things like drinking a Coke and eating a Snickers…mid afternoon.
I’m hoping to soon be feeling better and be able to break some of those nasty habits I’ve developed to compensate for having no energy. I guess like the dentist thing…this year I’m going to get over my fear of doctors…one way or another.
I’ve got to say…I’ve been very impressed with Kaiser. I’ve had them before…and not been overly pleased. But time…Kaiser…gets a big thumbs up from this gal.
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