Hashimoto’s Disease, IUDs, pregnancy, and pillboxes. Not what we expect at a routine appointment.
My good friend called me the other day to fill me in on her recent experience with an endocrinologist. She previously shared her nervousness about the appointment because she was seeing a new practitioner. Her beloved endo retired last month, so I was anxious to hear how the appointment went.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” she starts and then tells me the appalling details of the appointment. Before I fill you in on her experience, let me share a little background. She is a 42-year-old woman with Hashimoto’s Disease, a type of hypothyroidism. Although she was diagnosed a year ago, they are still working on getting her medication correct, and she still experiences serious symptoms.
Back to the appointment. Her new doctor starts the appointment by scolding her about not listing her IUD as a medication on her intake form. She wasn’t sure if that little tidbit led down a rabbit hole, but the rest of the appointment was spent discussing her birth control. The fact that thyroid medication affects certain birth control (but not the IUD, so it doesn’t affect her. At all). It can be dangerous to get pregnant while taking her thyroid medication and if she were to get pregnant, she should call him before she even calls her parents. Her parents are no longer living by the way. This is a fact that I am acutely aware of and I imagine how hurtful it must have been to hear. The depths of the insensitivity displayed at this appointment are amazing.
He inquires about when and how she takes her thyroid medication and scolds her again because she says she leaves a pill on her nightstand to remind her to take it upon waking up. “What if your blanket knocks it on the floor,” he admonishes. “You need to get a pillbox.”
The end. She leaves in shock. “He didn’t ask me how I was feeling. He didn’t ask me about my energy levels, headaches, and stomach issues.” Pregnancy and pillboxes. That was the entirety of her appointment. My friend pays a $40 copay and misses an afternoon of work to hear about pregnancy and pillboxes. As someone who works in the medical field, I know that it is essential to know your audience. Notice. Wonder. Ask specific questions. Be a good human and in this case, read the damn records before meeting your new patient. Her chart shows that she is not thinking about pregnancy and pillboxes. She is sick and wants help.
She started the conversation by saying she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Later that night, I sent her the picture below and let her know I was buying it for her. Let’s choose laughter today, my friend.