Thy-story – An Open Letter To My OB/GYN
You may not remember me, since we only spoke in your office for ten or fifteen minutes a few months ago, but my name is Kelly Sangree. I came to the “Lady Parts” practice with complaints of amenorrhea, weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, depression, a noticeable goiter, and muscle pain. A colleague of yours (who has since moved to a different practice) ordered hormone blood testing, including a TSH screening. She felt sure that I had some thyroid issues, since all of my symptoms could be traced to an underactive thyroid.
When my labs came back, most of my hormone levels were in the “normal” range. When I met with you, I mentioned that I had heard the TSH test was not a conclusive indicator of low thyroid function. You quickly dismissed that notion, saying that the TSH test is the most reliable test to determine if someone has low thyroid function. So I asked “Well, what can we do about my problems?”
You recommended putting me on Prozac and the birth control pill. When I mentioned that I had taken the Pill as a young woman and it caused my thyroid gland to swell, you suggested that instead I take a progesterone supplements every six weeks if my period did not come spontaneously. I then asked you how that would help my body return to a rhythm of ovulation and menstruation.
“Why?” you asked me. “Are you planning on more children?”
Frankly, this question alone offended me. Am I only supposed to function properly if I want to have more children? The fact is, yes, I would like to leave the possibility for more children on the table. So I said that yes, in about a year I might like to try again.
“Well, ovulation is the easiest thing to fix. We’ll just give you a round of Clomid. It has an increased risk of twins, but if you want children then twins should be no problem!”
Doctor, I would welcome twins or any child, but I have a few friends who are moms of multiples. They would be the first to inform you in very colorful language that twins are not, and never have been, something to be flippant about. In addition, Clomid also has an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is not something I would like to experience. You also hinted that my recent weight gain was the cause of my fatigue and amenorrhea, ignoring the fact that I told you the fatigue caused the weight gain.
I left your office with a prescription for progesterone and a desire never to cross your doorstep again.
You may wonder, then, why I’m even bothering to write you.
I found another doctor, Dr. Backenstoes in Palmyra. He ran a full thyroid panel, and even though my levels were on the low/normal level, I started taking (with his oversight) an over-the-counter freeze-dried bovine thyroid pill , a measured dose of St. John’s Wort, and a high powered antioxidant. After a few days, my overwhelming fatigue lifted. After a few weeks, I began to lose weight because I no longer felt the need to snack to keep up my energy level. After three weeks, my period returned. Yesterday my second naturally occurring period began, 31 days after the last period began and 15 days after I had ovulated. My goiter has gone down visibly, and swallowing is much easier.
Doctor, one thing that I know for sure is that an average lab value is only that – an average. You, as a doctor, should know that the proper amount of a hormone for one person might be far too low or too high for another. My thyroid function was minimal, and had I followed your advice I would still be in poor health, napping every afternoon and guzzling Diet Coke to try to stay awake. I would still be functionally menopausal at the age of 31. I would likely be even heavier than I was in your office, instead of losing 10 pounds with no effort.
This letter is to let you know that you were wrong. I thought that perhaps I shouldn’t write it – that I was better off not trying to speak to someone who was unwilling to listen to me the first time. But then I realized – if I didn’t tell you that you were wrong, you would simply assume that you were right. That the advice you had given me was just the ticket, and I hadn’t come back because I was better.
I’m better, but not because of your advice. I haven’t come back, but not because I was better. It was because you treated me like a problem you couldn’t solve, and didn’t care to figure out.
Kelly Sangree is a married mom of two, who is slowly improving her health and learning that just because they put MD after their name, it doesn’t mean they know everything. Facebook – I’m the bride in the picture! I wrote this letter to my infuriating OB/GYN, and in the interest of fairness I will block out his/her name and the name of their practice.
Tags: Dear Thyroid Letters, incorrect diagnoses, open letters to doctors from thyroid patients, overlooking obvious diagnoses, thyroid blog, thyroid forum, thyroid patient health, thyroid patient symptoms, thyroid patients advocating for themselves, thyroid patients finding the right doctor for them, thyroid support