When an Endocrinologist Said My Health Issues Were Caused by Laziness
It was the spring of 2012…
After almost a year of going around in circles on an endless merry-go-round of doctor visits, blood tests and imaging, I had finally managed to land a referral to go see an endocrinologist. An endocrinologist – a doctor that specializes in thyroid disorders and could give me some much needed answers on what on earth was wrong with me and why I felt so awful all the time.
I found time between my classes (I was taking 18 hours of senior level coursework) and working to schedule the desperately needed appointment. When I arrived, my nerves were completely on edge. I was just so ready to feel better after years of not knowing what was wrong.
The appointment started like any other appointment. When the doctor asked about my symptoms, I tried not to cry as I was describing how bad I felt and what I had been experiencing. Upon telling the doctor that the worst symptoms were depression and weight gain, he proceeded to tell me that my issues were being caused by laziness, rather than a medical issue.
This is the point when I started full on crying…I was already feeling incredibly self-conscious and this was the opposite of what I needed. How could a medical professional think this was an appropriate thing to say to a patient who came seeking help? At some point during this disastrous appointment that was only getting worse by the second, I had somehow convinced him to do a full thyroid panel blood screen. Those tests all came back normal and it almost felt as if he was gloating as he told me there was nothing wrong, despite previous imaging showing swelling and inflammation of my thyroid.
Months later and about a week before my wedding, I worked up the courage to see this same doctor again. At this appointment, after doing a ton of research, I requested that he order a thyroid antibody blood test. He told me it wouldn’t find anything, but reluctantly agreed anyway. Three days before my wedding, he called me back to give me the results…the antibodies were present and I did indeed have hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Despite finally having a diagnosis, this doctor refused to treat me, telling me that medication wouldn’t help. I thought I would feel better once I had answers, and I did feel a sense relief, but this doctor left me feeling more exhausted than ever before.
At a follow-up appointment, this doctor asked how my medication was working out, and that’s when I reminded him that he had not prescribed any medication and I was still feeling terrible. He then told me I didn’t have a thyroid issue, despite diagnosing me with one just two months before. Even after showing him more blood work confirming my diagnosis from another healthcare provider, he again refused to write me a prescription for medication.
I obviously haven’t seen this doctor since this happened, nor would I recommend him to anyone. However, if I could talk to him now, I’d tell him that I hope he is being more compassionate towards and listening with more patience to those who are depending on his help to improve their quality of life.
P.S. I finally did receive treatment from another doctor seven months later, and I’m happy to say I now have a wonderful team of doctors I see to manage my condition who are some of the most compassionate and caring individuals I’ve ever met.
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Thinkstock photo via KTM_2016.