Thank You, Dr. Graves

Could they have come up with a worse name for a disease? I mean, I’m just wondering.

Graves disease.

It’s named after Dr. Robert J. Graves, but couldn’t they have called it RJ’s disease, or something? Why don’t they just call it Cadaver-itis?

Wait, that would be a swelling of the corpse and that’s just gross.

But really? Graves disease?

And would you want to see a physician named Dr. Graves? Talk about poor marketing. Business must have been booming for that guy. I bet he made a killing.

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Okay, anyway. Back to my list. My naturopathic doctor had given me three things to do: see another endocrinologist, get an eye exam and have a bone density test. Here’s how I did:

1. See an endocrinologist.

My nat doc indicated that there was some degree of urgency for this item, seeing as my levels were so high. In fact, he didn’t even want to prescribe a thyroid blocker for me because he thought that with those kinds of numbers I’d be able to get in to see a new doctor faster. Perks. Yay.

I asked him if he could recommend someone to me. He had only one suggestion, but that particular doctor was over an hour away from my house. This doctor also did not get great patient reviews online. I called my OB-GYN, who had given me my original referral. She didn’t have anyone new to recommend. There aren’t a lot of endocrinologists in Maine and other than asking my current doctors – both of whom came up short – I had no way of knowing whether one was better than another.

So, I ended up back at the endocrinologist who had diagnosed me five years ago. I know. Why, right? When I already knew I didn’t like how he handles my case. The fact of the matter is that I didn’t know where else to go.

This time, though, I asked my husband to come with me, which he was glad to do. I guess I thought that if he were there he could help me make the doctor understand my concerns. Right.

We got an appointment right away and within a week I was back in the waiting room filling out all the useless forms that they make you update and then never look at: family history, current symptoms, past symptoms, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Funny, since once you get in the exam room, the doctor asks you the same exact questions.

I really despise it when people waste my time.

The nurse brought us in and took my pulse and blood pressure. Many people can assess their general thyroid condition by monitoring their pulse. I am not one of them. My heart rate doesn’t go up when I’m hyperthyroid, so this does me no good whatsoever as an indicator. Probably better for my heart, though. My pulse and pressure were excellent, as always. I’d be in great shape if I weren’t so messed up.

Then the doctor came in and we started talking. I expressed my concerns about being 35 years old with a husband just back from a year-long deployment. I explained that radioactive iodine was out for me, not least because I didn’t want to wait another year before trying to conceive. He smiled and said, “Six months.” Whatever. I’d wait a year, but either way I’m not doing it, so moot point.

He did not recommend surgery, as both the wait time and the recovery time were longer, so it could take up to a year anyway.

Our last option was putting me on another blocker, but I was afraid of potential effects from being on medication while TTC or being pregnant. The doctor told me that he could put me on a drug called propylthiouracil (PTU) which was safer for pregnancies as it didn’t penetrate the uterine wall as much as methimazole does.

I had a surreal moment, wondering whether we were actually talking about my uterine wall and whether or not certain drugs could be harmful to a potential fetus. I never wanted to do things this way.

But my doctor didn’t bat an eye. He assured me that pregnancy and breast-feeding were not issues with this drug. Okay. Well, not my first choice, but really, what choice do I have?

Then I asked about the dosage. Historically when I’ve been on blockers they’ve dropped me into the low end of normal, or even into the realm of hypothyroid and this is when I really feel like crap. I’m talking about the kind of thing that affects my quality of life: persistent, low-grade depression that makes dragging my ass off the couch a chore and produces thoughts that are so negative – even for me – that it begins to wreak havoc on my personal relationships. Then there are the chronic fatigue, the muscle pain and the constipation.

I’d rather be hyperthyroid any day of the week. At least paranoia is functional.

I specifically stated several times that I wanted to stay in the mid to high range of the scale. I asked whether the dosage could be lowered or the medication taken every other day or even once a week, if necessary. The doc indicated that we’d work it out, saying that he’d monitor my levels frequently – every two to four weeks – and so I asked him to write the script.

I had it filled and began taking it on January 24th. He ordered lab work for two weeks from that date.

I’ll tell you about those results tomorrow. For now, let’s get on with the list.

2. Eye appointment.

Done. Everything is fine with my eyes other than that I stare at a computer all day long and I’m 35 years old. I don’t have Graves eyes, which is about the best news I’d had so far.

3. Bone density test.

I haven’t had this done yet. For no other reason than I just don’t want to.

About a month ago, T and I were out shovelling the driveway when I slipped on the ice and fell square on my knee cap. It hurt. But I laughed, then I got up and I walked around.

“I just had my bone density test!” I called to T.

“Oh?” he said.

“Yeah, I just fell on my knee and it didn’t shatter, so I guess I’m good.”

Works for me. I’m tired of doctor’s appointments.

How about you? How do you feel about doctors appointments? Do you mind them? Hate them? Avoid them altogether?

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16 responses to “Thank You, Dr. Graves

  1. Hate them. I vote for hate them. I always get so frustrated and feel like a lot of medical professionals talk down to me.
    I hope the medication works. I have a friend from our last station with Graves Disease and it caused so much havoc for her at the most odd times.

  2. I hate them, but unfortunately, I have one later this week. In fact, half the reason is to get my periodic blood test to monitor my hypothyroidism, which came as a surprise diagnosis when I was in college. Current frustration: my levothyroxine dosage has been stable since then, so previous doctors told me I only had to get blood drawn once a year. The military clinic, in its seriously finite wisdom, bumped it up to every six months, so that’s an extra (and unnecessary) doctor’s appointment to despise.

    Still, dealing with anything on the “hypo” side seems like a minor inconvenience compared to what you’re going through on the “hyper” end of the spectrum. I shudder at the thought of getting labwork done every 2-4 weeks; I sincerely hope that the frequent monitoring allows you to come to the perfect dosage quickly. I’m sorry you have to deal with this crap at all.

    • Thanks so much. I’m glad that you’ve been able to get to a stable place! Even if the military is making unnecessary appointments for you (ugh). I hate doctor appointments too, which is why it feels surreal to find myself in this situation sometimes. Going to the lab every few months for the last five years has been a pain, but at least I’m used to it now! Sort of.

  3. Avoid them altogether if I can help it. I.E.–not going to the Gyno for two years. Yep. That’s me–Procrastinator Extraordinaire!

  4. I hate them. Just had surgery and not a blast.

  5. I thought the same thing about “Graves” the first time you mentioned it…maybe YOU could re-name it and ask your doctor to use it synonymously with the real term. Ha!
    As for me and doctors, I absolutely, positively need a valium or something when I pull into the parking lot. I don’t like going at all.

  6. I actually don’t mind doctor’s appointments, but I don’t have very many. For some reason it’s just something that doesn’t bug me! I’m very interested to read about Grave’s Disease, I’ve honestly never heard of it! And I smiled when you talked about the doctor’s names; I used to work at a doctor’s office and I once had to contact the office of Dr. Slaughter, and there was another doc named Dr. Bonebreak and yet another named Dr. Blood (not all in the same practice, thank god!).

    • You are very lucky! Doctor’s appointments make me so nervous that I have to wear sleeveless shirts so I don’t sweat all over the place. Love the doc names…that’s just perfect. In a really creepy sort of way!

  7. I usually hate them with a passion. But I have to go to them now. I tend to have white coat syndrome so my blood pressure is always high…which makes me more nervous. Blah!

  8. Ugh, I don’t blame you for wanting your medication levels to be carefully monitored so you’re not in the sluggish end of the curve. I agree that this would be a completely dysfunctional existence. Fingers crossed for you.

  9. I hate doctors and most of them hate me, too. I think I’m actually a good patient. I bring an agenda (I have print outs for me, the doc, and an extra one for my file). I have all of my questions written down. And I bring my second opinoin with me (OccDoc).
    I used to work with a Dr. Menses – he was an OB/GYN. My all time favorite name was a radiologist by the (first) name of Nimrod. I desperately wanted to marry him just so I could introduce people to my husband, Nimrod. OccDoc has already vetoed that name for any potential children we have.

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