Scutmonkey Chronicles

Commentary on healthcare in general, life as a medical student, and issues of concern thereof. Readers warmly encouraged to contribute their "best" and "worst" experiences with the healthcare system (who knows, some budding young doctor might learn something from your pain...?) Submit via comments section, or email me at oarlock@gmail.com if you'd like to become a regular contributor. Welcome, and don't forget to double-glove!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Healthcare comments from "Litagatrix"

Scutmonkey Chronicles is grateful for the following healthcare comments sent by "Litagatrix", who describes some interesting experiences, both good and bad, with medicine:


Worst Healthcare Experience: A while back I had to have my thyroid removed when doctors discovered possibily cancerous nodules forming in it. The good news, no cancer. The bad news, for over 8 months my thyroid levels were out of whack.

Symptoms of low thyroid hormone include fatigue, depression, memory loss, feeling cold. I had all those. I was in a very high pressure job and for 8 months I was having a terrible time functioning. I would forget what I was saying mid-sentence. I would be in the midst of a task and forget what I was doing and why. I would come home from work and either go to sleep, or break down crying.

This behavior was completely abnormal for me. When I went to my ENT who had performed the surgery, she suggested perhaps I needed a psych consult or counselling--because (without checking my thyroid hormone levels) she was sure I couldn't need a higher dose of hormones. I went to the family physician at our local clinic. After going in multiple times, he finally agreed to test my hormone levels, while all the while telling me I shouldn't be blaming my personal failings on hormone levels.
I was so angry and so frustrated.

Finally the test results came back and that doctor called me up to sheepishly admit that my TSH was 4 times the normal level---12.3 as compared to 3.1. Finally! Vindication! The moral of this story is that although there are a lot of hypochrondriacs out there, good doctors listen to their patients instead of discounting their symptoms and their assessments.

Doctors have the benefit of incredible training and experience, but a patient and his or her family are in the best position to explain "what's normal" and "what's abnormal" for that patient. Having hypothyroidism (?) for 8 months nearly wrecked my career, and could have been easily avoided had my doctors listened to my concerns and symptoms, and ordered a relatively simple test.

Best Healthcare Experience: When my son was 8 weeks old he had developed a severe case of jaudice. We took him to our family pediatrician who in turn sent us to the local hospital's pediatric clinic. There we met with an exceptional doctor.

Not only did this doctor truly love children and listen to our concerns, but when the initial tests came back indicating that my son had exceptionally high bilirubin counts, he acted immediately to follow-up with other tests to determine the problem. What made this experience so wonderful was this doctor's commitment to his patients.

When we received the initial news, he gave us his home phone number and told us to call him if we had questions later on about the tests or the eventual diagnosis. He called me at home in the evening when the follow-up test results came back, and offered to call my husband (who was travelling at the time) to explain the results to him. We never called him at home, and wouldn't have done so in any case, except in an extreme emergency. But it was so comforting to know that he cared enough to make himself that available. As a professional myself, I now give that same courtesy to my clients.

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