Article by Wendy McCance
About 10 years ago, I got sick. It began with a feeling like I was overheating. I would get so hot that I felt like I would throw up or faint. As time went on, I began to notice my hand shake. I thought I just needed to eat something or maybe get more sleep. At the time, I had a child in elementary school and two babies. It made sense that I felt so off. The strange thing was I had a feeling of endless energy. I had trouble sleeping and could run around without a feeling of exhaustion.
Over a month, I got worse, fast. My feet began to feel as though I was wearing cement shoes. There were times where I could only drag my feet. It seemed impossible at times to lift a foot. It became obvious that things weren’t right and so I made an appointment to visit a doctor.
The doctor I saw was brand new. My insurance had changed and it had been years since I saw any doctor other than my gynecologist. I went in to see the doctor and talked about my concerns. At the appointment I felt rundown and shaky.
After asking a bunch of questions and checking me out, the doctor came to the conclusion that I was just a stressed out mom who felt overwhelmed with 3 kids, 2 of which were under 3 years old. I didn’t feel overwhelmed and said as much. I tried to explain that I felt something else must be going on, that the symptoms I had were not normal, even for a mom with a few young children.
The doctor decided to do a blood test just in case, but I felt like he ordered the test just to placate me. I had tears in my eyes as I left the appointment. I thought I was losing my mind. How could a doctor think that having a problem walking had anything to do with being stressed out? Honestly, the only thing stressing me out was the fact that I felt ill all the time and didn’t know why.
Before my blood test came back, I was at home and began having problems walking again. It was worse this time. I was clumsy and banging into the walls as I walked down the hall. I was shaky and felt like I would faint at any moment. My heart was racing and I was scared out of my mind.
I called my dad and told him I needed help. He rushed over and basically carried me out to the car. By the time he got to my house, I was shaking horribly and couldn’t walk anymore.
We went right to the hospital. The whole way there, I was apprehensive, terrified that the doctors there would think I was just crazy. I went over that thought a million times asking myself if I could bring on such horrible symptoms by myself. Was I just losing my mind?
At the hospital, I was diagnosed. I was going through thyroid storm. It turned out that what I was experience was a life threatening event. Thank god I went to the hospital. When I had entered the hospital, I was sick to my stomach, felt dizzy, couldn’t communicate or process what was going on, my heart was beating rapidly, I couldn’t walk , I had breathing problems and I was having trouble staying awake.
The doctors were able to get me stabilized. Thankfully, they didn’t pass off my symptoms as a panic attack or as being an overly stressed mom. What I was experience, I later found out could have caused me to go into a coma or led to a heart attack.
Over the next few weeks, I was diagnosed with Graves disease. I had gotten a recommendation from the hospital to see an endocrinologist. This doctor said my thyroid was so overactive that medicine wouldn’t help get the hormones produced back to a normal level. I ended up having radioactive iodine treatment. Basically you take a pill that kills your thyroid gland so it no longer works. You then take a pill to replace the hormones that your thyroid no longer produces. One pill a day for the rest of your life.
A few weeks later, I was back at the original doctor for a check-up. The doctor walked around with a superior stance as though he knew all along that I had a thyroid problem. There was no admitting he was wrong, or apologizing for making me feel as though my condition was all in my head. It was the last time I would see that doctor.
Overall, I was crushed. I had always held a doctor at such a high level. I had always felt that a doctor would take your symptoms seriously and would be proactive in finding a solution. It was degrading to see a doctor who without much thought put the reason for my symptoms on me as though I was out of my mind.
Sadly, I have heard of many people who have gone through situations like the one I described. No one knows your body better than you do. My advice to anyone who ever experiences a situation like this is to get a different doctor if you feel that the one you have is not taking your symptoms seriously.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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