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Unfiltered Story #252522

, , | Unfiltered | January 29, 2022

I tend to gain weight when stressed, but I managed to maintain it while simultaneously working, studying for CPA exams, and earning a M.Acc. Shortly after graduating and passing the exams, removing most of the stress in my life, I suddenly began gaining weight rapidly. I was also inexplicably fatigued, and acne took over my face. Based on family history, I suspected hypothyroidism. A friend of mine suggested that I talk to my OBGYN, due to her experience with getting diagnosed.

On the day of a routine appointment, the nurse who checked me in asked if I had anything else I wanted to talk to the doctor about. I mentioned my three symptoms. When the OBGYN entered…

OBGYN: So you want to change your birth control?

Me: What? …Oh, my weight? I can consider it. Last time I started this method, though, I lost 40 pounds in a few months, so would it make sense to blame that?

OBGYN: Well, if you aren’t willing to change your birth control, I don’t know what else to do for you. I can refer you to a dermatologist, though.

Me: I’m willing to change it, if that’s what needs to be done. I want to know what’s causing this, though. I’m even willing to consider that it’s just a change in metabolism from getting older, but I want to be sure. If there’s a medical problem, I want to treat it.

OBGYN: Well, I don’t know what to do for you. I can change your birth control if you want, and I can refer you to a dermatologist.

She continued with the rest of the exam, mentioning the dermatologist again before leaving. I even got a phone call from her office a week or two later, mentioning that I’d talked to the doctor about a referral to the dermatologist, and they wanted to set that up for me. I declined. Surprisingly, I’m more concerned about my actual health than whether people want to look at my face.

I had an appointment coming up with my usual nurse practitioner, so I waited to talk to her. I explained my symptoms to her.

NP: Have you been stressed? Are you getting enough sleep? Have your eating habits or activity level changed? (I confirmed these weren’t problems.) Well, if you were about 30, your age could be a problem, but since you’re a few years past that, I don’t expect your age to be the issue. We checked your thyroid levels less than a year ago, so it doesn’t make sense to check those again.

Me: The problem did start a few months after my last test, though. I mean, I’m perfectly willing to accept that it’s my “fault,” but I want to be sure. I don’t want to be one of those women who struggles for years, blaming herself, and in the meantime her underlying condition is getting worse, and it’s finally discovered when she dies or ends up in the hospital. I can certainly diet, but I don’t want to ignore other possibilities.

NP: It just doesn’t make sense to test that now. People have a lot of success with Weight Watchers. Do you eat a lot of carbs?

I don’t know why she decided I needed to change how I ate, if the problem wasn’t a change in diet or an expected change in metabolism, but I decided to meticulously count calories until my next appointment. I set my goal at losing a pound a week, and I consistently stayed under that goal. At my next appointment six months later, I had an actual spreadsheet showing that I’d done the work to lose 30-40 pounds, but I’d barely lost 10. I was hungry all the time, but I thought this data would be what I needed to convince her there was something else going on. After all, I’m sure they get a lot of people who don’t want to accept responsibility for their weight, and she just needs to know I’m not one of those people, right?

Me: So you can see that I’m doing my part, but it just isn’t working like it should, and I want to know why.

NP: Good work, keep that up. Make sure you drink plenty of water. And get plenty of plant-based proteins, like from nuts. But my problem is that I want to eat too many nuts. Don’t eat too many nuts.

She also gave my my routine lab results, which were all fine. She explained that there was one routine test that had been overlooked, so she asked them to add it, but it hadn’t come back yet. I noticed there was only one thyroid-related test, and there are four that are necessary to rule out thyroid problems. I started thinking about what I needed to do to switch doctors, since nobody was willing to take me seriously. The next day, I got a phone call from the doctor’s office.

Office worker: A lab result came in for you today, and it indicates that you have an underactive thyroid. [NP] wants to prescribe levothyroxine, and she wants you to come back in three months for more labs. Is that okay?

Three weeks later, I still haven’t been contacted by an actual medical professional in any way whatsoever. My friend has been a lifesaver, explaining how to properly take the medication, how to schedule other medications around it, and how to keep my condition from worsening in the meantime. She also explained that the fact that my symptoms have suddenly increased drastically is due to a flare, caused by my body adjusting to the medication. I’m so exhausted that I’m sometimes barely making it through the day. I’m definitely switching back to another NP that I’ve liked in the past, and if she doesn’t get the job done, I’ll keep switching until someone does. I’m never again waiting six months to convince someone that I’m worth listening to.

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