Two doctors. Two diagnoses.

I never cared about the results of blood tests when I was younger. I always expected the results to  be normal, whatever normal was. Now I study the results like I’m ready to take my SAT test. What’s a normal level of glucose in the blood? Is HDL good or bad cholesterol? Is my WBC (white blood count) within acceptable limits?

I’ve learned that markers in the blood are important because they can tell us if something is wrong or about to go wrong. For example, low levels of hemoglobin could signify loss of blood due to anemia or internal bleeding caused by cancer; an elevated white blood count could mean you’re fighting an infection; if you don’t have sufficient vitamin D3, your bones  won’t stay strong.

But—and this is a big but–all doctors don’t order the same battery of tests, nor do they all interpret the results the same way. A more conservative doctor will prescribe a statin drug to lower an overall cholesterol count of 200, while another won’t recommend a thing if your individual HDL (good) and LDL (bad) numbers are in line. One cardiologist will prescribe blood pressure meds if your pressure goes modestly north of 120/80, while another doesn’t think you need them.

A new internist I recently saw called to tell me the results of a T4 free test she ran, which determines thyroid function. “You might have an underactive thyroid,” she told me over the phone while I was waiting to get a manicure.  “That could lead to problems with cholesterol, weight, and other things. You need to see an endocrinologist. I can recommend one.”

I am already under the care of an endocrinologist for my bones, so I didn’t need a recommendation, but I thought how could I possibly have an underactive thyroid when I have as much energy as ever and have lost, not gained, weight? Then, when I did some digging on the Internet, I learned that many labs would absolutely not consider the results of my T4 Test to be out of normal range. When I spoke to my endocrinologist, she told me that “guru” docs in her field don’t even use the T4 test, except in extreme circumstances, when a patient is exhibiting signs of an underactive or overactive thyroid, and that results of other tests showed my thyroid is completely fine.

When I brought this up with the internist, she didn’t budge from her original position.

What’s an FOF to do? This FOF decided to trust her current endocrinologist. If anyone will know she has an under active thyroid–without taking a test–it’s moi.

Moral of the story: We must insert ourselves into the process of managing our own health. Doctors are not Gods. Even great doctors make mistakes and their judgements aren’t foolproof.

 

 

6 Responses to “Two doctors. Two diagnoses.”

  1. Rosemary says:

    Hello Geri,

    I found your blog via the Style Crone, and this is my first visit! I do applaud you for taking the control of your health into your own hands, instead of being a passive bystander, as it were.

    I have been drinking aloe vera gel for nearly 3 years now, and it does a good job of keeping everything running smoothly. It’s good for skin, joints, gut and immune system. If you are interested, I can let you know how to purchase some. It isn’t yummy, but I mix it with fruit juice, so I find it quite palatable.

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  2. Sharon says:

    Hi Geri, I agree that many doctors, not all push pills. Have you ever been in a doctors office when a drug rep walks in. Many tell them that the doctor has no time now, but come back after office hours. If a drug rep goes in before me Im out of there. Many people with real problems like myself do need certain heart saving meds. Family history does not help . Thanks mom and dad! Get out there and walk ,bike and stay in shape. I also study my blood test results . Stay well. Sharon

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  3. Bev Young says:

    Doctors are hazadous to my health and I prescribe dietary factors to myself. You really are what you eat.
    Doctors are legal drug pushers. Pharmaceutical companies fund medical schools and doctors learn very little about nutrition.
    I sincerely believe that they are killing people with their multitude of prescription medicines.
    They are most definately not the “God” that many think they are.
    In other words, diet and exercise are really the key to good health and too many Americans are too lazy and would rather take a “pill”.
    I thank FOF for turning me onto the wheat belly book. I didn’t think I could possibly eliminate bread and sandwiches but I did. It has been 5 months now and I feel so much better and am rarely tempted to have anything with wheat in it. I have Narcolepsy and eating nothing with wheat has made a tremendous difference.

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  4. Joni says:

    Yes! We definitely should take our own health into our hands and do what we can to be healthy. Although, there’s always those cases where a person had lived like a diet saint and they end up with 12 years of grueling chronic leukemia.

    It kills me when a diagnosed diabetic has an opportunity to turn the disease around with diet modifications and instead they’d rather give themselves an injection of insulin everyday? They have to keep going to the meetings and refresher courses because they refuse to eat properly. Now that’s lazy! I watched a dear friend totally turn around their diet when they faced diabetes and it’s in remission, or it just disappeared. No shots, no pills.

    I faced my own scary diagnosis of colon cancer when I was only 42. My doctor was so impersonal and lazy about diagnosing it over the course of an entire year, it’s amazing I’m here to type this. Had I been better about looking out for myself I would have gotten a second opinion. Live and learn!

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  5. Vera J says:

    Hi Geri,

    Please don’t take this personal. This is not directed at you.

    This article really hit a hot button for me. Doctors want to prescribe a pill. Period. Your blood pressure is too high, take a pill. It’s too low, take a pill. Your cholesterol is too high, take a pill.

    And yes, sometimes a doctor will recommend a more healthy diet. But is that really their objective? Don’t get me wrong. There are good doctors out there that really want you to get well. But, if we are to be honest, they are few and far between. Most would rather get you on medications. And what about your other doctors? Do they all know what you are taking? Do you keep them informed about everything you are taking? Do you have a pharmacy in your medicine cabinet?

    If we as a society ate a more healthy, organic diet we wouldn’t be in the shape we are in. Sodas, artificial sweeteners, fast food, “Super Sized” meals have brought us to the point where our only supposed alternative is to take a pill to fix whatever ailment we have, that are in many instances, self inflicted.

    But changing our diet and becoming more active is way, way harder than taking a pill or 2 or 3.

    I know I am probably in the minority here. Well, no probably to it. I haven’t gone to a doctor that has done anything positive for me in many years. So I have stopped going.

    And yes, I still have rheumatoid arthritis. And I do take predisone. But I don’t get it from a personal doctor. I have tried all the supposed drugs that were being touted as miracles. Embril (nada), Remicade (also nada). All to no avail. Didn’t help at all. And then when my insurance changed and they would no longer pay $600 to $700 per treatment of the Remicade, and that was just my part of it, I had to stop that. No big deal. After 6 months, not any sign of improvement. And one infusion can cost as much at $13,000 without insurance! Hello!!! My supply of funds doesn’t run that high.

    My point is, we are not a dumb society. So that being the case, why don’t we wake up and realize that we have control over our own health?

    Stop eating GMO products. Demand truth in labeling. Eat organic. Yes it’s hard. Driving 75 miles to an organic grocer to keep from buying from Walmart is not my idea of ideal. However, I do it because I am tired of; 1) “eating chicken that has been genetically altered to grow twice as fast, and twice as large as their ancestors. Pushed beyond their biological limits, hundreds of millions of chickens die every year before reaching slaughter weight at 6 weeks of age. An industry journal explains “broilers [chickens] now grow so rapidly that the heart and lungs are not developed well enough to support the remainder of the body, resulting in congestive heart failure and tremendous death losses.” YIKES!!! 2) Buying produce that has been sprayed with harmful insecticides. “Apples, Celery, Strawberries , Peaches, Spinach, Nectarines– imported, Grapes – imported, Sweet bell peppers, Potatoes, Blueberries– domestic, Lettuce, Kale/collard greens.” These should always be purchased organic.

    One word: Monsanto, the devil in disguise. Wait, there is no disguise!

    I could go on but I think I’ve probably been on my soap box long enough.

    I realize I have possibly gone overboard here. But shouldn’t we take responsibility for our own health? And not rely so heavily on a “doctor?”

    And yet, lastly, if I break a bone I will go to a doctor. I even draw the line a setting my own bones. I’m such a wimp.

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    • Debra @ Blue Raven Wellness says:

      If you’re in the minority, I’m right there with you! As a nutritional therapist, I’m doing my little part to at least grow that minority – more people who are educated about real, vibrant health and how to achieve it through real, vibrant food. Each day I show one more person how to do it. It may be a drop in the bucket, but it’s essential.

      Thank you, Vera, for having the courage to say your piece.

      Oh, and I would add homemade bone broth to your list of healthy foods, especially for bone strength, it’s a pharmacy in a pot! Contact me to start down the path at blueravenwellness.com.

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