December 6, 2019
This is just kind of a weird story so I thought I would share it. In 2012, I had a wee cold and was flying to California to visit family. That wee cold got much worse, and during the night I developed a really wicked ear infection, and the pain was incredible. I was literally up in the middle of the night trying to find something to puncture my own eardrum to alleviate the pain and pressure. Thank goodness I didn’t find anything! Even though I’m an audiologist, that would not have turned out well. At some point during the night, my eardrum ruptured on its own, and the pain had resolved. When I came back to Albuquerque, I called every ENT on my insurance plan for an appointment, but of course the wait time was four months. Instead, I went to Santa Fe and got in within a week.
[Sidebar: how much sense does that make? I live in the most populous city in our state, with the most specialists including ENTs, but I can’t get an appointment for four months? I have to drive sixty miles one way to see a doctor? Something’s definitely broken here.]
While the doc was examining my ear, he also felt around my throat and said that I had a very large lump on my thyroid gland that I needed to have checked out. Yep, turns out it was cancer. So that was why, at age 44, I had to get an ear infection–it was the only way that lump would be discovered. It was large too! I don’t know how I missed it. But who goes around looking at their throat?? The process for dealing with the thyroid cancer was pretty straightforward (thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine, scans, and meds), and I’ve had few issues with follow up and treatment, other than the revolving door of providers.
But I still must follow up with endocrinology a few times a year. My current endocrinologist, Dr. E, is great. She’s young, aggressive, really good at explaining information, and she also excels at including me in the treatment plan. She’s too good—I’m sure she’ll leave soon. (I’m like a chronically-jilted girlfriend with these docs—always insecure that they will abandon me.) Follow ups include an ultrasound of my neck, lab work, and a review of my current dose of replacement thyroid medication.
I was pretty sure I was over-medicated because I had been having heart palpitations over the past few months, sometimes severely so. One night while traveling for work, I was awake nearly all night long with palpitations. I did a quick ‘inventory’: not stressed, not worried, not really thinking about much of anything except the fact that I couldn’t sleep and therefore would be exhausted in the morning. I’d had this happen before and my thyroid meds were always the culprit, so I figured that was the case again. But no. Not this time. The endocrinologist said my medication dose was exactly where it needed to be. She suspected that the palpitations were from the anemia (I knew that anemia can cause palpitations but had just completely forgot), but to be on the safe side, she referred me to cardiology. That was fine with me, as the renal case manager I had spoken with said cardiology would be a good thing to check off the list anyway.