Tuesday, 13 April 2010

If I get knocked down...

...I just get back up again.

I have had a couple of occasions in recent months where I have felt a bit misunderstood. Or perhaps it is more that I have spotted, despite my best efforts to prevent it, that a conversation is spiralling out of control in a negative direction.

The first time it happened was during the Winter Olympics - I was pulled over by local law enforcement after leaving Iona Beach (the public park where I was taking my landscape photographs). Nothing disastrous happened and I did not get a ticket. However, when I spoke to the officer who pulled me over - I just felt like I was trying to communicate with someone in a foreign language. Even though we were both native English speakers. It was a really peculiar experience that left me feeling really uncomfortable. As a result, I am not in any special hurry to encounter another officer from that particular organisation again.

The second time that it happened was during a hospital appointment just over a week ago. I knew in advance that the hospital was going to confirm that I have thyroiditis because I'd been given the tip off by my family doctor. Naturally enough, I had poked around on the internet, spoke to one of my sisters to compare notes (she is being treated for the same thing) and felt quite relieved as thyroiditis would help to explain a number of different symptoms that I have been experiencing over the past year or so.

As my hospital appointment was with a surgeon (long, boring, unnecessary story), I assumed that they would tell me that I was no longer a surgical case, confirm my diagnosis and refer me onto an Endocrinologist for advice and monitoring or treatment.

Not so - it seems that while I do have thyroiditis and I will need treatment in the future, I do not need treatment yet. Apparently, it could be another 6-8 months before I will need treatment. Now, please don't get me wrong, this is excellent news - after all, who wants to be on medication?

However, if I am not to receive treatment yet and I believe that I have been experiencing symptoms consistent with thyroiditis for some time, what do I do to manage them? Will my symptoms stay as they are or will they get worse as my thyroid packs up? How do I go about being monitored, so that I receive treatment when I need it?

When I asked these questions, my consultation started to come off the rails a bit.

I was told to monitor via my family doctor - ok. I received some advice to diet and exercise - Atkins or Weight Watchers and Curves as 'group activities tend to increase the chances of success'.

Although obvious, the advice presumes that I have not been trying to manage my weight. While the lack of exercise is a fair cop, I started to take steps to curb my weight gain before last summer (under strict instructions from my husband not to crash diet or starve myself). There is the occasional slip but we have cut right back on carbs, fats, sugars, dairy and reduced portion sizes. We even banished alcohol to the weekends (only) after Christmas.

To my chagrin (and creating no small amount of panic in my head), my weight has simply continued to increase. In fact, I have gained about 48lbs since I came to Canada. I tried to explain this but it was as though an invisible, inpenetrable 'fat barrier' had sprung up between me and the surgeon in the consultation room - I got that look that suggested that if I had been trying for so hard and for so long? Then why was I sitting there bulging out of my oversized jeans?

After that, things took a further, strange turn for the worse. Contrary to what I had read and heard, the surgeon asserted that some of my symptoms were not indicative of a thyroid problem but instead, were indicative of depression and tried to give me a prescription for anti-depressants.

Frankly, I was a bit gob smacked - I rejected their assertion that I am depressed and I refused the prescription. I pointed out that there is absolutely no history of depression in my medical history.

Yes, I might be fed up about being so tired and forgetful. I might be concerned about my weight gain. I might be missing the UK (friends and family). I might not find life particularly fufilling without a job. I might not enjoy the endless grey and rain (Autumn - Spring). I might not be enjoying the experience of living in Canada 100% but to the point where I am actually, truly depressed about it?

No, I do not think so. There are lots of things here that buoy me up when these other things start to get me down. Amongst them - the Fella, my stepson, photography, the sporadic textile things that I do and the friends that I am starting to make here.

So, things here have been interesting. I sort of felt that I got knocked over by my hospital appointment and I have spent the last week starting to dust myself off and get back up again.

I went to see my family doctor yesterday to find out what monitoring might involve. I outlined what happened at the hospital and I have been referred to an Endocrinologist. At the very least, I hope to understand more about what is happening to me and obtain some answers to my questions. The extremely good news is that there was no mention of depression in the report that my family doctor received back from the hospital. So, if nothing else, the surgeon listened to me on that point.

I am not going to hang my hat entirely on the referral though.

The lack of exercise is a fair point. So I am now walking 2-4km per day and I am waiting for a call back from a fitness trainer to confirm when they can fit me into their schedule at the local community centre (now confirmed for next Monday). As I have a medical condition that is very likely to be slowing down my metabolic rate, then I guess that exercise has to be an important part of trying to keep it going. I am hoping that the discipline of having a trainer for a while will help me get back into the exercise habit. I am also hoping that it will help me slow the scales down.

I am in the process of reviewing meal plans with the Fella to see if we can manage to go completely gluten and dairy free on top of the changes that we have already made. From what I have read and heard, this can help combat fatigue and tiredness. So, if anyone has any good information resources on this topic and/or any gluten-dairy free recipes that won't make the Fella feel that his culinary life has ended, then please let me know!


Wye Sue said...

I found this blog whilst looking for stuff for a gluten free friend...


She does some really good looking food :-)

hope you have more energy soon and the weight stops going upwards

springonmars said...

Yowch. This isn't the first time I've heard of that "fat barrier" doctors seem so prone too. How horrid. And "depression" too! There's a hyuuuge difference between being a bit down about specific issues, and suffering from actual depression. As anyone who battles that particular beast would be happy to explain to your lovely surgeon.

It sounds like you're doing everything right as far as dealing with these problems goes, though, so good on ya. Walking is maybe the perfect exercise for this situation as it lifts the mood too. And I do recommend trying a gluten-free diet, or similar. I once cut out all sugar and wheat for a few months - it was incredible. I lost weight and had so much energy. Tragically it seems I love croissants more than I love feeling and looking fantastic, so I fell off the wagon after a while and never managed to climb back on, but none the less. There are so many substitute products around, and very good recipes too, it's not too hard to make changes in your diet. (Says the girl who couldn't keep it up. I know, I know.)

Not sure about the dairy-free part (mostly because I haven't tried, although hazelnut rice milk is amazingly delicious) but I'd be happy to share my very delicious recipe for sugarfree, wheatfree chocolate raspberry cake...

the small gallery said...

Wow, that's really mean but not surprising. Specialists here are just as unhelpful. After my recent fright I got a letter from the consultant, when I was expecting an appointment, so no chance of discussion of symptoms or what next. GP was surprised the hospital had not offered any advice so I took myself off to a naturopath. Very, very helpful, Do you have such a person over there. They look at the whole person not the confronting symptoms. Speak soonxxxx. What are your dates for the uk?

missmalice said...

Good for you. Stick to your guns and get a second opinion. The endocrinologist can overrule the surgeon I am sure, and get you on treatment sooner rather than later.

I was finally diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, which also affects metabolism and weight gain, and has the vicious cycle of the more you gain the slower your metabolism works, causing you to gain more... went to my gp and pretty much wouldn't go until I got a referral to a gynaecologist (this after having an ultrasound and scan) who then did the same ultrasound and scan the gp did and referred me to an endocrinologist who finally put me on a treatment to help my insulin work a bit harder to help my metabolism. All rather roundabout, but we got there in the end!

You know what is best for you, if your gut feeling (and learned knowledge! and family history!) conflict with the surgeon precursory advice, ignore him and keep looking. Not all doctors are such cold fish/men (sorry men doctors! but there is a stereotype there that seems pretty entrenched).

Or you could just tell him, as my husband dreams of doing in certain circumstances, in his best clipped British accent, "Damn your impertinence!"

Roobeedoo said...

Hi there - thanks for your comment! Now I have read this and it feels so ironic that you are having trouble with gaining weight and I am having trouble with losing it - and yet it might be the same problem. I found a fab symptom in the list "Intolerant to exercise" - isn't that a lovely one?! That's me alright! Intolerant to doctors too!

Kim Colley said...

Hey, just checking in to make sure you're okay. I'm used to seeing your blog posts on a regular basis and you haven't been around for a couple months. Even though I don't often comment, I always read, and miss your posts!

pip said...

first of all... if you don't feel depressed do not take antidepressants... that's a no brainer. As far as getting healthy/losing weight goes... rather than restricting portion sizes start packing your meals full of good quality things.. like green veg, nuts and seeds... and minimizing calories that have no nutritional benefit... like sugar, white bread etc... this is what i'm trying to do anyway ;)

Bob H said...


Like Kim above I'm a bit concerned to know you're OK as no posts and not seen you online for ages.

Drop me a line sometime (and as always you know where I am).

Bob H

PriestessRaven said...

Depression can sneak up on you, so just because you don't feel it, that doesn't mean you aren't at risk of it. I never thought I'd have problems with it but post partum and for quite a few years after I've depression issues. Aside from that, not treating you for something they proved you have? Seems a bit odd, isn't part of being a doctor prescribing preventative care? I hope this comment finds you in better health, kudos to you for the healthier eating and walking. :)