Monday, April 30, 2007

Thyroid Cancer - My Appointment with Dr. B

Thinking back on this day it was truly a whirl wind of events. I had been working out in the basement as I normally do and had gotten a late start. I was in my kitchen starting to cook my breakfast when the phone rang. It was 9:45 am. I noticed on the caller ID that it said CHM. I didn’t think much of it because the previous evening I had gone online and had ordered all of Dr. B’s books in an effort to learn more about him and how he practices before my appointment with him. I figured that there was some issue with my order. The woman on the other side, Sue, told me that there had been a cancellation with Dr. B for that day at 5:15 and was I interested in coming in. I remember having a stunned, excited and anxious feeling all at the same time. Of course I wanted to come! Then my thoughts turned to Sierra. I had to find someone to watch her for me. I explained this to Sue and she stated that she would continue to call and I could call her back. I asked what this meant and she said that she was going to continue to call other patients that may want the appointment to see if she could fill it. I explained that I did want it but needed a sitter for my daughter. She told me that she would give me 15 minutes to get a sitter. My heart pounding I hung up. The adrenaline was really running. I quickly dialed my mother’s phone number praying she was there. She was just heading out to get her haircut and I had caught her. I explained the opportunity and she said that she could be there.

I had so much to do. I had my medical records all together from my appointment with the endocrinologist at the University of Michigan so all I had to do was grab that information and go to Staples to copy it. So I packed up my daughter and we went to Staples. It was a cold rainy day. We got out of the car and headed inside to make the copies. When we came out I went to start my car and had problems getting it started. “Oh No I thought!” I had been having issues off and on and today was not the day that I needed this. I called my husband and luckily he was in town. I was able to get my car started but he agreed to come home and swap cars so that I could take his to Detroit and not worry about being stranded.

At 2:15 pm I was on my way to my appointment. I was suffering from sheer exhaustion and I am sure my energy used to get to the office was pure adrenaline over the excitement to finally see a doctor that I believed would help. It took me a little over 2 ½ hours to arrive at CHM. I decided to wait a few minutes in the car and read my book. At around 5 pm I entered the office. I had filled out my new patient forms prior to this visit so I had just a few things to complete. I was armed with my records, list of supplements and recent tests that had been run by me and my ND.

I didn't wait long at all. The nurse called me back and took my weight and height and I was ushered into an examination room. The room was decorated with artwork from Dr. B’s daughters. I thought that was a nice touch and symbolized to me that he loved his family. On the counter was a relaxation “waterfall”. The room did not impress me to be very “medical” like many others I had been in. Maybe that was by design I thought. It created a sense of peace. I needed that! The nurse took my blood pressure and pulse and told me that the doctor would be with me in a few moments. I thanked her and she left.

As I sat in the room waiting I thumbed through the paperwork I had brought with me. I hoped that everything I needed was in the package I had quickly assembled. I remember shaking from the cold. My temperatures were so low and I found myself constantly cold. My body ached and I had vertigo. My tongue had also been burning since August and that was annoying. I hoped that this doctor would have some answers.

I couldn’t help but wonder how a doctor feels when they acquire a patient like me. I had a long history of seeing doctors only to fire them and move on to the next one. This pattern sets precedence that maybe “I” am the problem. My hope was that the detailed records I had brought would send a totally different message to him.

Dr. B entered the room. I remember thinking that he looked different than the pictures I had seen of him. He sat down in the chair next to me. I handed him the 3 ring binder of my records. He placed it on his lap and pulled out a sheet to take notes on. He asked me to tell my story. So I began to unload the story of how I had been diagnosed, the tests that had been run and the outcome of each. I told him how I had been through three rounds of RAI and had reached the maximum lifetime dose. I told him that my last visit to my endocrinologist had shown an increase in thyroglobulin and that my doctor had suggested that I start thinking about external beam radiation. I told him of my symptoms and that none of my doctors until my Naturopathic doctor believed that they were something to be concerned about.

These were my symptoms:

Achy Muscles
Brain Fog
Joint Pain
Eczema
Slow Hair Growth
Slow Nail Growth
Anxiety
Depression
Mood swings
Irregular Periods
Intolerance to Noise
Low Stamina
Feeling Cold
Cold Hands & Feet
Insomnia Sleep Disturbances
Dry Hair
Dry Skin
Need for Naps
Inability to Concentrate
No LIBIDO
TMJ
Vertigo
Carpal Tunnel
Spider Veins
Chronic Athletes Foot

After giving my list of symptoms to him I explained that the depression and anxiety were the worst. I felt anxious with panic attacks for one week before my period and then for the week after I was depressed. I told him that I had mentioned this to my endocrinologist and he told me that this was a “female” issue and that he did not deal with that. I explained that I went to my OB/GYN and asked him to look at my hormone levels and was told I was fine but was given an anti-depressant to help. Dr B then interjected – “You were given Prozac right?” I said “No Zoloft”. He sighed. I told him that I had only taken 1 pill and then decided that this was not the answer to my problem. When you have been raised in a Chiropractic household you know in your gut that drugs are not the answer.

When I finished my story, he politely asked me if that was all I wanted to tell him. This is very different for me. The doctors I had experienced rammed their views down my throat and didn’t’ want to listen to what I had to say. I told him “yes”.

He asked me to lie down on the table. When I was in the supine position I immediately felt the vertigo. I placed my hand on my head and groaned a bit from the wave of nausea it gave me. The room began to shake. He asked me what was wrong and I told him. He grabbed the blood pressure cup and took my BP. He then told me to stand up and took it again. My BP dropped a bit when I stood up. He told me to lie back down. Adrenals, I thought.

He explained that he would be pressing on my arm as I held it up and I was to resist him. I chuckled inside because my father had been doing muscle testing on me since I was a small child. I explained that I was very familiar with it due to my father and knew what to do. He pressed on various points on my chest. He checked my abdominal area along with my intestines. He told me I could sit back up and then did the normal “neck check” and asked me to open my mouth. I was about to be introduced to the world of toxic amalgams. He took one look and said “Wow there is a lot of mercury in there.” I asked him how he could tell. Looking back I laugh at this now because it was obvious but I knew so little. He responded with “Because you have a lot of fillings.”

He began to fill in the lab slip. He said that he was going to run a large set of lab tests to see what was going on. I was so relieved to hear this. I had been asking my doctors if there were more tests we should do to look at what this radiation had done to me. Not one of them thought more testing was warranted yet I felt worse and worse each year. Something was wrong.

He spent a fair amount of time with me. It was supposed to be 1 hour but it went over. I guess that’s a good reason why being at the end of the day is better. It was Valentines Day and I couldn’t help but wonder what his wife was doing on this day. I suspect that she was used to it.

He asked if I would be willing to be part of a clinical study for thyroid cancer. I said “yes I would be willing to do this”. I believe this was related to iodine but it is a bit fuzzy now. So much happened on that day and I had a lot to remember. He told me that a nurse would return to the room and draw some blood. He then instructed me to spit into a cup and showed me the level I needed to attain. He apologized for asking me to do this explaining that most women have issues with it. I said that I did not mind. After all I was looking for an answer to my problems – what was the big deal in spitting in a cup?

During this process my brain fogged over and I thought he wanted to get a urine sample. So I took the cup with me and headed to the bathroom. When I returned I gave it to the nurse. She looked strangely at me and asked what it was for. I told her Dr. B wanted it and I asked where the container was that I needed to spit into. She told me that she would ask the doctor. As she returned to the room I could hear both she and Dr. B laughing. It turned out that I was not supposed to pee in the cup but spit in the cup. I was so embarrassed! I guess I missed part of the instructions. He was good natured about it and that made me feel better.

After several minutes of struggling to fill the cup with saliva I was able to complete the task and was ready to be on my way home. It was 7 pm as I emerged from the room into the hallway. Before I knew it, Dr. B met me in the hallway and asked me if I was OK and if I had anymore questions. I told him that I was fine (I knew I had more questions but I was feeling a bit overwhelmed) and he told me that he would walk me to the checkout counter. I was so impressed that he had stayed the entire time. The entire visit was so personal which was so much unlike the doctors I had experienced on other occasions.

At the counter I met up with Sue – the one who had called me to come in for the appointment when there was a cancellation. I asked her why she had chosen to call me. She explained that she was sitting at her desk and saw a post-it-note on her desk. The note had the last name of “Vuist” on it. It was in reference to a doctor that had called wanting to talk to Dr. B about one of his patients that needed to see him sooner than 6 mos. She said that they could not match the name to anything they had. When she went to look at the waiting list she noticed how close my last name was to the one listed on the note and thought that it was probably the same person. So she picked my name off the list to call me. She also said that she remembered the conversation we had when I called to make my appointment. She was originally from a city near mine and was familiar with where I lived. This came up when discussing the time of my appointment as I explained having two small children to get going in the morning and needing a sitter. We had a good conversation about why I wanted to get in to see the doctor sooner than 6 mos. We discussed rising cancer markers and my fears after 6 years of limited success. I remember her to be very sympathetic. I believe that this entire story was perfectly orchestrated by God. I cannot imagine how much worse I would have been if I had waited 6 months to start my treatment.