Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thyroid Cancer - My Introduction to an Endocrinologist

On July 19th I entered an old dingy building for my appointment with the endocrinologist. It was not like the upscale medical offices I had grown accustom to. It reminded me of hospital hallway scenes from the Waltons. Gray walls and tan speckled floors with stainless steel kick plates surrounded me. The chairs in the waiting room were a throw back from the ‘70’s. They were orange, gold and avocado colored vinyl. It was cold and uninviting. I was soon to learn that this was the demeanor of the doctor I was about to see.

I don’t remember much about the appointment itself. He breezed into the room like he was God’s gift to thyroid patients. He did the standard blood pressure, reflex and neck check with swallowing water. He ordered lab tests for TSH, T4, Tg and Anti-bodies. He sent my blood to Dr. Carole Spencer’s lab claiming it was the only place to have thyroglobulin analyzed. He definitely agreed that my care to this point had been sub par. He gave me a prescription for Synthroid telling me that it was “The Gold Standard” and that I would not be able to stay suppressed on any other thyroid medication because of potency variations. He gave me a couple of cards of samples and sent me on my way.

My information regarding my care (or the lack there of) from this doctor is sketchy. I did not acquire any copies of my labs. I was trusting that all that could be done was being done.

No new issues were discovered in my labs so a follow up appointment was set for November 7, 2000. My thyroglobulin was still detectible and I had antibodies but it was only 2 mos post ablation and my endocrinologist told me that my markers could come down for up to one year because the cells had damaged DNA that would try to repair the cells and would eventually give up and die. So I was waiting. Three and a half months seemed like forever. But I had a reprieve from the medical hell I had just gone through. I could just enjoy my summer and my son and begin to adjust to being a stay at home mom.

On August 4th my life was about to be turned upside down again. I have heard it said that God never gives you more than you can handle. I honestly believe that he pushed me to the limits. On the eve of this day my husband arrived home with a somber look on his face. When I asked him what was wrong he informed me that they had eliminated his position and he had been let go from his job. I was stunned. I had just quit my job not 1 month earlier and now he lost his. What would we do for insurance I wondered? This was certainly not the time to be without. Understanding insurance I knew that I could never let my coverage lapse or it would be possible to be denied for a pre-existing condition. Thankfully DJ had been looking for a new position prior to this and within just 10 days he was employed again. This was definitely not a stress I needed. I am thankful to God again for his faithfulness.

There was a wait time before we were covered on the new job's plan. We needed insurance from the beginning of August until the end of October. We had to take out COBRA insurance to ensure that we were covered. The cost per month was almost $500. Again true to God’s faithfulness one of my old clients contacted me when they heard that I was no longer with the firm. They asked if I would be willing to come and work for them to clean up some outstanding issues on their system. Since I was the one who had designed and installed their accounting system it was a great fit. I was able to work one day a week and they agreed to pay me $55 per hour! What a blessing. My girlfriend watched Dawson each Monday for $25. We were able to easily cover the cost of our insurance plus catch up on the medical bills from my treatment. I worked this job from September 2000 until the end of March 2001. I could arrive at 9 am and leave by 4 pm which worked out well since I couldn’t get up early given my fatigue from all I had been through.