Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The Specialist

Okay, as BW pretty much commanded me to do, here is what happened when I went to see the specialist a couple of weeks ago.

Having had my height and weight measured and handed over the urine sample I'd brought with me, I was waiting in the endocrinology clinic for my turn to see the doctor. When it finally came I went into the office and the doctor had me go through the history of the condition as I saw it. So I told him that I had started feeling like this back in August last year but thought nothing of it until October, after which I did my best to ignore it in the hope that it would go away. At that he laughed a little and I relaxed.

He then wanted to examine me. Most of that was the standard pulse, blood pressure and reactions but he also wanted to have a feel of my thyroid to see if was enlarged or had any lumps in it. That involved him wrapping his fingers round my neck from behind and probing at the bottom of my throat. I really don't like anyone touching my throat and that made for a very uncomfortable situation. I managed to get through it without freaking out but I'm not looking forward to going through it again.

Anyway, the upshot of it all is that my thyroid is slightly enlarged, but not too much. Of the three common causes of a hyperactive thyroid, one can be completely ruled out by the lack of lumps and another is very unlikely because it is relatively short-lived, lasting just two or three months at the most. So, for now I have been diagnosed with autoimmune thyrotoxicosis, or Grave's Disease as it is more commonly known. It's where your body produces antibodies that cause your thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones than it normally would.

For now the treatment is with the drug carbimazole. It's just one a day and I should feel better in a few weeks (just in time to be suffering from lack of sleep ;-) ). I'll be taking them for the next year or so at which point the treatment will be reviewed. In about half of cases, the drug doesn't put the condition into long-term remission and if I am in that 50% then we'll look at more permanent options (surgery or treatment with radioactive iodine). Those are not without problems, either because if too much of the thyroid is removed or killed off, then it can become hypoactive, in which case I'd be on drugs for life. Hypothyroidism is much easier to treat then hyperthyroidism, however, so that wouldn't be completely disastrous.

So, that's about it. There are some side-effects but I'm not likely to be affected by them so I'm not going to write about them for now.

People have been asking me if I feel relieved at now knowing what is wrong and how it can be treated. The answer to that question, somewhat surprisingly, is no. I don't feel relief at all, yet, mainly because I don't yet feel any better but also because the treatment is going to take so long and even then there is no guarantee that it is going to work completely. Maybe that will change in a couple of months when I find that can do things that I am unable to do at the moment, but I'm not holding my breath.

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