Why did your doctor run that test? Have you had symptoms?
Dr. S sat in front of me, typing my answers into a computer. I don't know why my GP ran that test, I said. I think he does certain tests when you reach a certain age, so maybe that was it. I have had some symptoms, but I thought it was just menopause.
He started going through a list of symptoms.
Had I notice any hair falling out? Well, I didn't think so. I mean, I have LOT of hair. I haven't seen any in the drain, or on my pillow. But then, this past weekend, I turned our vacume over - the little new one we bought for the new house - and I was stunned at how many much blonde hair was wrapped around the beater brush. There was a lot. My hair stylist, meanwhile, had commented that I had "course" hair, which nobody had ever told me before. At the time, I chalked that up to her not having a good chairside manner.
Weight gain? I explained my lifestyle to him. When I got to the point where the only time in the past seven years that I've been in the "normal" range for my height was when I was training for an Ironman, his eyebrows went up, and he typed into the computer.
Family history. "Is your mother still alive?" I told him she died of heart failure at 61, as a complication of cardiomyopathy. His lips tightened, and he typed into the computer.
"Suicide," I said simply. "About 3 years ago. He was the second in his family to do that; there's a lot of depression and alcoholism there."
He continued down a list of symptoms, and asked about fatigue. "The thing is, doc, I do a lot. I work full time, and besides that, I'm usually either doing another part-time gig, or taking classes, or both." But lately, I told him, I'd complained to Sweet Baboo that I just felt old.
"What did you mean by old," he probed.
"I don't know. Just--old. Like time is running out."
He smiled a little, and typed into his computer. He's about 65, I think. Sharp as a tack--he was familiar with the psychopharmacology research that I'm coordinating at my job. But at 65, it must be ironic to hear a 44-year-old marathoner say that she feels like time is running out.
All together, he spent probably about 45 minutes with me, listened to my heart, breathing, explained things to me, answered the questions I could remember (because I forgot my list of questions) and then explained to me why he was going to prescribe what he was going to prescribe.
He told me that generic medications are allowed to deviate from their name-brand counter part by as much as 20%. He also told me that "natural" drugs, like dessicated pig thyroid, are allowed to deviate in potency even more than generics, because they are classified as "natural" and are not subject to the same guidelines by the FDA.
He checked off the "no substitution" box on my prescription. Synthroid, .5 mg
I assured him he didn't need to sell me on that point. "To be honest, doc, snake venom is natural. Spinal meningitis natural. I've also been reading up on all this, and I know that the "natural" thyroid is not bioidentical to human thyroid hormone. I'll take the stuff that's been formulated to exactly duplicate human thyroid hormone, thanks."
It pays to be educated about your condition. When I went to the pharmacy to pick up my new prescription, I glanced at the label. Hesitated. "Is this generic? I'm pretty sure my doctor said no generics."
The pharamcist went to check that the doctor had indeed checked that box, and then called out to me that it would need to be refilled again, if I didn't mind waiting a couple minutes. I went in search of an Oil of Olay product that Oil of Olay makes but nobody seems to carry. That's another story.
When I came back for the right prescriptions, I hesitated again. "How many is in here?"
"Ninetey," I was told. "It's a three-month supply."
I struggled to be my own advocate while still being a good girl. "Gosh, ninety!" I said brightly, giving my biggest Dixie Girl smile. "It sure doesn't look like ninety. These must be tiny pills." The pharmacist looked a bit put out, but then when she took the bottle I handed her, her eyes widened a bit. "I'll be right back," she said.
I finally arrived home with ninety of the right medication, and I started taking it today. "How soon will it start working? What sorts of things might I expect," was one of the questions I remembered to ask. Sweet Baboo wanted to know that, too.
The doctor had smiled, and said, "you know, that's an interesting question. Like you, a lot of people tell me they're only been feeling kind of bad for the past couple months. But then when they get on the medication, and their level is adjusted properly, they realize they've felt crappy for years."
So, I took my new pill for the first time this morning. It has to be taken with water, on an empty stomach, at least an hour before I eat. This morning at 5 am, I took my pill. But I can't help but wonder: I love my life. It's a fantasy life, in my opinion. How much better could it possibly be?
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