This week we are featuring guest posts by one of my patients, who was thrown into surgical menopause at a relatively young age. Many women may recognize the signs and symptoms Erin experienced. Like Angelina Jolie, she is sharing her story in hopes of helping others.
I was desperate to feel better. I had no idea how long it would take me to find the right doctor, but I certainly found plenty of the wrong ones. I waited more than six months to get an appointment with a top endocrinologist. She was recommended by someone I respected, who was also waiting for an appointment. I was thrilled to have an appointment with a woman doctor as I believed a woman would be more likely to understand just how badly I felt and more determined to find a way to fix it. I felt hopeful when I arrived, but the experience left me feeling rushed and disrespected by both the doctor and the staff.
After some basic questions about my history and recent surgeries, followed by a few short minutes of physical examination, top doc proclaimed there was nothing wrong with me besides my need to lose weight. My heart sank. At the very least, I needed a new prescription for thyroid medication, so I kept pushing and asking questions. I mentioned I’d felt better when I was on natural Armour Thyroid hormone versus Synthroid. A long-term shortage of Armour had made it necessary for another doctor to move me back to the synthetic. Top doc was openly skeptical and reluctantly wrote the scrip, while commenting in a very condescending tone that there was no possible way for me to tell the difference between the two.
Worst of all, she made me feel I was being difficult when I asked, and then insisted that my hormone levels be tested. I knew imbalances had to be a major part of my problems. Her response made it apparent that she believed I was using “hormones” as a convenient way to excuse my weight gain, and that I wasn’t taking responsibility for my health. That was exactly what I was trying to do! She was dismissive of me, my feelings and my instincts at every turn.
After feeling so hopeful that this doctor would be the one who would finally make a difference for me, I felt completely demeaned and miserable. I struggled not to cry when leaving her office, and spent several minutes sobbing in my car. It was clear that I was not going to get the knowledge, understanding or care I needed to get better.
Another doctor’s “hormone balancing” treatments actually made me feel better for a short time. But after a very stressful few months, I felt even worse than before. I had no energy or focus and was rapidly putting on weight. He insisted I was doing something wrong – once again, the blame was shifted onto me. By this time, I was rarely able to fall asleep, and when I did, I could not stay asleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. I was barely able to get up, let alone get moving. I was in a state of permanent exhaustion.
He increased my progesterone dosage and had me begin taking substantial oral doses of hydrocortisone twice a day to “boost my energy and adrenal function”. By my next visit, I had the puffy-faced corticosteroid bloat to add to my list of health complaints. My progesterone level came back extremely elevated, which the doctor nonchalantly represented to me as being the “borderline high” range. The high levels of progesterone came with the dandy side effect of waves of intense dizziness and brain fog, along with considerable weight gain and bloating. I not only felt like hell on the inside, I looked it on the outside. It took me more than a year to wean myself off the hydrocortisone without literally collapsing during the day. Yes, I mean literally.
My search for someone who would listen to me, who would help me, continued until one day a friend mentioned I should try to see this “amazing doctor” she’d heard about from another friend. I was on the phone that day to make an appointment.
Recognize any of these signs or symptoms? Call our office for an appointment: 480.619.4097