The Little Things #30: Doctors Who Listen


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November 2007

In January of 2008, I was close to the “ideal healthy weight” for my height, and had been maintaining said weight for about 5 months.

Six weeks later, though I had made no changes to my diet or exercise, I had gained 16 pounds. That’s right, SIXTEEN pounds in SIX weeks. Along with that, I started to feel cold all the time, was constantly tired and couldn’t focus, and felt like I was going to be sick to my stomach six or seven times a day, among other symptoms. Clearly, something was up.

So imagine my shock and disappointment when the first four doctors I went to told me that

a) I must not be eating right or working out enough, so that’s why I gained weight (even though I hadn’t changed my diet or exercise) and

b) the rest of the symptoms were “all in my head.”

Um, excuse me? No. I wasn’t going to sit there and let them tell me that I was making all of this up. Most of them wouldn’t even agree to do a blood test for my thyroid. I came home from each doctor’s appointment more and more angry and upset.

Finally, I found a doctor in Madison who not only listened to what I had to say, but worked on figuring out what was wrong. After a few tests, she determined that I had hypothyroidism.

Six months later, I was nearly back to my January 2008 weight, had more energy and stopped feeling so sick all the time.

Sad to say, after what happened back then, I’ve been wary about looking for a new doctor here in Ithaca, afraid of going through the same process again.

Fastforward to now.

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February 2011.

I don’t usually talk about weight on my blog. It just isn’t the focus of Savvy Eats.

But here’s a confession: I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds since November.

I’ve been cutting back on my food intake, upping my fruit, vegetable, water and unsweetened tea servings, and trying to be more active. And you know those decadent dessert recipes I occasionally post?

When I made clementine pound cake, I had 2 slices over the course of 5 days, and gave Dan the rest. When I made super fudgy brownies, Dan and I each had a few, and I shipped the rest out to family and friends. Sometimes Dan takes treats in to work. I’ve really been making an effort in the past few months to just enjoy small portions of the desserts I make.

Know how much weight I’ve lost? 0 pounds. Not even a half a pound. In 3 months of trying to lose weight. Along with that, I’ve been feeling more and more tired, my head has been feeling “fuzzy” again, and my headaches have been coming back. Just like what happened 3 years ago.

So yesterday, I went to the doctor.

When I told her about the weight gain and my other symptoms she immediately said, “whoa. Something is clearly going on here. Let’s start with a thyroid test to make sure your levels are on track, and go from there.”

I nearly cried tears of joy. She LISTENED. She wants to do something to help me. And she was the very first doctor I tried!

Granted, she is also retiring shortly. But the appointment I had yesterday left me feeling a little more confident about finding a new doctor. And that’s something, right?

What little things have made your week better? Have you ever had an experience like this?

Comments

  1. says

    aw love – I know it’s difficult to try and get to an ideal weight and height but you are gorgeous the way you are ๐Ÿ™‚ Promise! it is awesome that a doctor actually LISTENED to you! its so difficult to find people like this who are wanting to MAKE a difference in your LIFe rather than a paycheck. Keep us posted on how everything works out dear! xo

  2. says

    good luck getting it sorted out. there is nothing worse than doctors who don’t listen or seem rushed and not interested. but good ones make all the difference!

  3. says

    I’d call this a big thing–not a little thing. When you need to find a new doc, consider looking up Dr. Yoon. When I lived in Ithaca, she was my regular doctor & was instrumental in helping me effectively treat my PCOS so I could finally stop gaining weight & start successfully losing. She ran thyroid profiles on me regularly & was an attentive doctor who cared about her patients. Its been a few years, but if I remember right, he office was on route 13 near the airport & Triphammer Mall.

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      I already need to find a new doc–the one I saw is retiring this month (not sure why she was taking new patients)! I just called Dr Yoon, but they aren’t taking any new patients. ๐Ÿ™ THANK YOU for the recommendation, though!

        • Julie @savvyeats says

          No, but that would have been smart…maybe I’ll call the doc i saw yesterday for recs

          • says

            I can’t think of anyone else–possibly just one of the other docs in her practice, since that might allow you to become a new patient as soon as something opens. So sorry you couldn’t get into her office!

  4. Emmy says

    This is a HUGE thing! So, congrats to finding a Dr who will listen ๐Ÿ™‚ I have had more than my fair share of frustrating doctor appointments as well. I have a son who is autisitc and has a lot of food aversions, because of that his diet is so poor. He’s underweight, constipated, won’t eat almost any fruit or veggie – it’s a nightmare! I want answers, if not answers I want suggestions of things to try and if you can’t do that, then I want an RD or nutrionist! But as soon as I say “Hey, you don’t know what to do for my kid, so lets get a referral to an RD!” They shut down, whyyyyy? No referral. Just “Give your son a papaya and more water” Oh yes, that happened. I’m actually hoping to transfer to UW-Madison next year! Hoping I’ll find better docotors there for my son.

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      I hope you find a good doctor soon! It must be especially frustrating when it is your child who is sick!

  5. says

    I had the same thing happen to me in high school… I travel two hours now to go to my thyroid specialist because I am terrified of getting stuck with yet another doc that doesn’t listen. A good appt can ease your mind and I hope she helps you start feeling better ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck Julie!

  6. says

    I went through the same frustrating trials with my endometriosis. I had doctors prescribe me things and make no note of it in my chart (illegal?) and just plain tell me I had bad pre-period or post-period cramp…even though at times I wasn’t even close to having my period. Finally someone listened and I’m getting better, but I still have really bad weeks and periods of obscene wait gain/water retention. It’s hard not to feel obsessed or entirely consumed by it, because you don’t feel NORMAL.

    Hope you start feeling better soon!

  7. says

    I have a similar experience with doctors and my thyroid. After 1 year and 3 doctors FINALLY they did blood work and discovered Grave’s Disease, a form of hyperthyroid. I understand the feeling of weird weight and emotional cycles and I totally feel for you, it’s the worst! So sorry you have had to go through it! But Im really glad you finally found a doctor who listens, that’s HUGE!

  8. says

    Gosh that sounds so frustrating! I hate it when doctors belittle you, it’s so unproductive. I have a great doctor here that I trust, but when I move to D.C. I’m really scared about trying to find a new one.
    I hope you get things figured out girl! I’ll be praying for you!

  9. says

    As soon as I started reading this post, I thought to myself, “It sounds like something is wrong with her thyroid.” My mom struggled with hypothyroidism a few years back, and all your symptoms sounded exactly like the ones she exhibited. It’s very brave of you to talk about this on your blog, and I applaud you for it. Also, as someone who is going to med school in August and plans to join the ranks of doctors, I am appalled that it’s took you this long to find a doc who listened and responded appropriately to the symptoms you exhibited. That’s what doctors are “supposedly” trained to do: listen to their patients! Oy vey. Hearing stories like this is good for me as it reinforces the notion that patients really do know their bodies best, and I will always be aware of that when interacting with my patients. Thanks for this post, Julie!

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      That’s what was so frustrating–it seemed obvious to me that thyroid problems were at least a possibility, but the other doctors wouldn’t even entertain the idea!

      I’m sure you’ll be a great doctor who listens to her patients! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      She’s retiring within the next week or so, so I’m already on the search for a new one! The blood test is still a start, though!

  10. says

    I have been to doctors who haven’t listened, and it has to be one of the most frustrating things ever. Certain doctors can be so rigid once they think they “know” the cause of something and that they know what’s going on with your body better than you do. I really hope that you find another good doctor in Ithaca once this one retires – I am sure they are out there, keep trying until you find the right person!

  11. says

    I’m glad you found a doctor that listens. They seem to be few and far between these days. I went because I was exhausted and no one would do blood tests. They just wanted to put me on anti depressants. Turns out my iron and Vit D were REALLY low. Hmmm, not depressed. Just tired.

  12. says

    I have had similar experiences with doctors, but actually on the other side of the spectrum. I lost a LOT of weight in a very short period of time due to an eating disorder. I went to the doctor, and since my blood tests were normal, she said I was “fine”, even though I was underweight AND told her my daily intake (way too low) and exercise level (way too high).

    You know what she said? “Don’t worry about it. Weight fluctuates in college. You’re probably just stressed out. Besides, you look good. Lots of other girls would kill to be in your place.”

    I kid you not. She not only brushed off a deadly disorder as nothing, but she validated my unhealthy behaviors!

    Needless to say, I found a new doctor STAT, and I have been with her ever since. She listens to me, supports me, and has been there through thick and thin–literally. When my weight goes up or down, we talk about it instead of just ignoring it.

    I hope you figure out what’s up with your thyroid. And NEVER settle for a doctor who isn’t the best at what they do–it’s your health at stake, so it’s important to find someone you can trust.

  13. Catherine says

    I have been very lucky when it comes to Drs in the area and have only had very positive experiences. Having said that, I have had to say to my Dr “I think your wrong and I want to do something about it”. He is one of those rare Drs that doesn’t believe he knows everything so he has respected me enough to listen. I believe that self advocacy is VITAL to the Dr patient relationship and that only you know what it is like to live in your body, therefore, only you can say what is best.

    Fight for your health… no one else will do it for you.

  14. says

    I’m going to repeat some others by saying this is a HUGE thing! I love that you wrote about this because it’s more common than you think. We all know when something is off with our bodies, so don’t ever let a doctor tell you otherwise. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that most Drs do not know how to talk to patients, like at all. Nor do they know how to deliver a diagnosis with empathy and compassion. I recently was diagnosed with PCOS, a hormonal imbalance that affects my ability to get pregnant (I wrote a post about it here http://wp.me/p1lHyZ-cx). When the test results cam back the Dr. simply said, “Well it looks like you have PCOS, which means you’re going to have a hard time getting pregnant. But don’t worry there’s a lot of fertility stuff out there so I’m sure you’ll be fine.” I almost lost it in there and cried the whole drive home. I just want to scream at them by saying “Hey! We’re people you’re dealing with here, not robots! We have emotions, so have a little compassion!”

  15. says

    I’m so sorry about all your health struggles, but happy that you found a good doctor! I’ve had similar issues with my chronic sinus problems and the last doctor I went to also told me it was something I was inventing. It’s so frustrating! Why would I spend time and money to go to a doctor for fun? Argh. I hope you get back on track with your thryoid soon if that’s the issue.

  16. says

    Julie, I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been going through this incredibly frustrating experience! I hope you find the medical answers you’ve been looking for soon. And for what it’s worth, I think you are just as cute as a button in your recent pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. says

    I’m so glad you found a doctor that is willing to listen. I wasn’t aware of your situation (you look awesome, obvi!) but I agree with Heather- the symptoms you describe definitely mean something is up! I hope that it gets all figured out and you can feel more like yourself again- feeling tired and cloudy all of the time is the worst!

  18. says

    Julie I’m sorry about your health troubles. I’m glad you’ve found someone who will listen, and hopefully she can recommend another good doctor for you once she retires. Thyroid issues run in my family and I know how frustrating it can be to deal with them. I had a serious health scare due to an incompetent doctor when I was 13. After spending six days throwing up everything I ate and getting worse by the day my mom could tell this was more than a ” bladder infection” and insisted on taking me to the emergency room, despite my doctor’s “assurance” that I would be fine in a few days. Turns out I had a ruptured appendix – that doctor nearly cost me my life. It took me months to recover from what should have been a simple operation. You have to be your own advocate when it comes to your health because so many doctors don’t listen.

  19. says

    So sorry you’re dealing with this! Thankfully you found someone who believes and recognizes a problem when it exists. I hope she helps resolve it quickly for you. And for the record – you are still so beautiful and such a wonderful person. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. says

    Props for fighting for what you need at the doctor’s office- I used to think that being a “good patient” meant nodding and agreeing and not causing problems in the exam room. Now I know that you have to really work and fight to get proper attention in today’s totally insane medical system.

    I don’t have thyrod problems, but I can definitely relate to this post. People (MDs and regular folk) are SO quick to blame individual behaviors when it comes to weight gain (and loss) and it can be so hard to determine the source.

  21. says

    I work with a bunch of doctors and even I will admit that they’re sometimes jerks, and get so far stuck into thinking they’re right, that they overlook the complaints of their patients. I once was in a minor car accident that cause our windshield to crack & pieces came flying at my bare feet. A few days later, I went to the doc because I could barely walk & was convinced I had glass in my foot. The guy poked at the sore, took an X-Ray, and then declared I was crazy & there was nothing in my foot. 2 days later it started bleeding and guess what, GLASS CAME OUT! I was so pissed that he had acted like I was just complaining from some little cut, basically laughing at me for being a wuss. It’s frustrating when you’re paying good money (even if it’s just your insurance paying) to see an “expert” who doesn’t even give you good advice/guidance. The best thing you can do is be your own advocate, and keep going to new doctors like you have. Can you imagine what happens to people who don’t have the knowledge/wherewithal/guts/access to go and visit another doctor?! Hope you feel better soon!

  22. says

    My sister went through this in high school and then found out she had PCOS with insulin resistance. It really sucks, but once she found out she figured out ways to effectively manage her health and her weight. I’ve been to doctors who say that PCOS isn’t real and some who know a lot about it and understand its challenges.

  23. says

    I love this post… coming from someone who has also had some pretty awful experiences trying to find a new doctor, i think this is more than just a “little thing” (although I do love your “little things” posts)! Hope you get this all figured out… sounds really frustrating! You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers–keep us updated!

  24. says

    Aw, I hope the new doc figures out what’s going on. That must be so frustrating to have your body fluctuate so much! I have experienced having docs who don’t listen or don’t believe you. It’s annoying because their JOB is to figure out the problem, not just assume we’re doing something wrong or don’t know our own bodies.

  25. says

    Oh my gosh!! How frustrating. I had no idea you were going through this. I’m so sorry! Yes, that is a big issue. I’m glad you found a great doctor. I’m sure the retiring one will be able to recommend who you should see next. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Lot of love, lady. See you soon!

  26. says

    Julie, I am so so happy that you’ve at least gotten a bit of insight into what’s going on with your health, even if the doc you just saw won’t be permanent (how weird of her to take patients?!). You know, bringing something like this up will help lots of people I bet. Every single one of the women in my family suffer from hypothyroidism and so I’ve always been tested for it just in case. It’s no silly thing and I’m sorry that you even have to go through any of it. You are your own health advocate and I’m thinking of you as you find another doc you love! Amen to good listeners, and those who really care. Wishing you the very very best ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Melissa says

    Awh, isn’t it funny how you suspect something with your own life and then bam someone else blogs or post something about it?!?! Thank you for all the informaiton! I recently have been having weight issues (and being 5’2″ i do understand that those 6 pounds make a HUGE difference!) as well and I am waiting for my blood work to come back for hypothyroidism. Hoping for some positive news!

    Good Luck and thanks again!

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      Good luck with figuring out what’s up, because I know it can be frustrating! Let me know if you have any questions!

  28. says

    Hi Julie,

    Since everyone is at HLS (but me!) I’ve had time to discover some new-to-me blogs (since there is a lack of posts for me to read since people are traveling or having fun in Philly!). But I cam across this post and just wanted to give you a HUG. I am so happy that you found a doctor who will listen to you — what you are going through sounds so frustrating.