The latest ChronicBabe article is on Trusting Your Gut. This is particularly timely for me, since my latest doctor tug-of-war has been over my thyroid levels. After almost three years my TSH is steadily in the range preferred by my endo. This is lower than the preferred range for the lab used by my GP, who prescribed a change in dosage. I had several very stressful days while labs and phonecalls were sent back and forth to determine who I should listen to and what I should do. This doesn’t sound like much, unless you understand what life was like before this current golden age of stability.
In 2006 I started to suffer from extreme fatigue. Other than work, I did nothing. I often was in bed by 8 pm because I was not physically capable of staying up. Most of my socialising was over the computer, and even then I was exhausted, had little focus, and sometimes even sitting at a desk was too much. My skin was painfully dry despite hydrating lotions, my hair was falling out in ever-increasing amounts, and I had no eyebrows to speak of. I gained 30 lbs. in six months. I first attributed this to moving from an active job (Pre-K 4 teacher) to a desk job, but my fatigue increased rather than decreasing. I was terribly constipated and ached all the time. I did not sleep well, and even 10 or 11 hours of sleep left me exhausted. Despite the joy of getting back into my chosen career and the relief that increased income brings, I was deeply depressed. Once my new benefits began I went in for a physical, but it took months before the test that finally flagged my thyroid dysfunction.
Jump to today. Despite the RA, I am a thousand times better than I was. Getting my thyroid balanced was a protracted fight with many ups and downs, but I am back to paying someone to wax my bushy brows and I no longer outshed my longhaired cat. My anemia is controlled, and I no longer physically crash at 3 pm. The fact that my thyroid is under control is a point of pride for me, when so many other aspects of my life and health are still beyond my control.
So when someone tries to fart around with my thyroid treatment, I get very antsy. See the Great Freak Out of 2008 when my pharmacy tried to slip me generics. Note the Explosion of Fear in 2009 when I had to change another medication that impacts my thyroid.
I survived these bumps in the road, but the main point is: what I have right now WORKS. It took a long time to get here, and anything that threatens this delicate balance had better stand up to protracted and exacting scrutiny. But I also distinctly felt that I was “tattling” on my doctor when I went for a second opinion on the prescription. I know that it is my right as a patient and only sound common sense, but there is that insidious grain of guilt, like going to your stylist after you dyed your hair yourself: they may not say anything, but you KNOW that they know. I’m trying very hard to get over this inhibition- I know that my treatment works and I’m not going to mess with it (“if it’s not broke don’t fix it”), but it doesn’t stop me from feeling nervous about challenging an authority figure.
Some of this is coming to terms with the fact that I am a much more informed patient than when all this began. I know about my conditions and how my body responds to those conditions much better than I did three years ago. At the same time, there is still so much that I don’t know about my RA and being able to rely on the effectiveness of my current thyroid treatment is my security blanket. I think what has upset me most about the doctoral back-and-forth is that it shook my confidence in my own experience. I rely on these people to know the things that I don’t- when they’re not sure what to do, I feel lost.
As an aside, one of the article suggestions Zemanta gave me for this post made me angry: it’s a “cure” for hypothyroidism. I’ll save THAT rant for another post…
Read Full Post »