Posted by Pattie on 9/14/2009 05:22:00 PM

Well the good news is that I haven't had hives a lot, the black cohosh & progesterone cream are helping (not totally, but the hot flashes are down to only a couple a day and not constantly) and I have more work than I know what to do with.

The bad news is I find myself neglecting the fun stuff like writing here and journaling at home and taking a moment to care for myself or spend time with my husband. Oh yeah, and, well, more work doesn't seem to equal more money. But what's new with that.

Here's the big news of the month. My husband finally had a doctor tell him what's been wrong for the past year. He has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It is good to know what it is. It is good to finally have a doctor take him seriously. But after the initial relief of having a name, we are now coping with the fact that this isn't going to go away easily and the quick karma that comes with fibromyalgia.

I was diagnosed with this condition in 1997. I've done a lot of reading and a lot of research and I've learned to understand my own body better. In the past couple of years I've come to understand the underlying conditions that led to my condition -- specifically, I have come to believe that the source of much of my problems has been hypothyrodism. I was originally diagnosed with lupus and had many of the symptoms associated with lupus when I started getting ill. But now that I am testing positive for hypothyroidism and have read more and discussed the situation with my doctors, I think the lupus was a misdiagnosis. I believe I had subclinical hypothyrodism.

Our conditions lead me to ponder two big stigmas in health care & health research in this country.

First, is fatness. No one regarded my gaining a considerable amount of weight in a small amount of time in 1997 as a sign that my thyroid was growing weaker. It was decided then that because I was in pain most of the time and had lost the energy to ride my bike the 20 miles a week that I had before, that my lack of exercise led to the 90 pound weight gain in 5 months. Looking back with more critical eyes (it wasn't until 2000 that I started questioning so-called medical science regarding weight), I now realize that probably didn't make much sense. Because hypothyroidism is connected with weight gain it is under-reasearched and under-treated.

Second is gender. Deciding that because something is predominantly diagnosed by one gender or another it becomes a "woman's disease" or a "man's disease" is problemmatic, espcially if doctors remain misinformed. It took 4 months for me to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia. It took Carl 12 months to have the same diagnosis even though his symptoms were much more clearly defined and obvious (especially in retrospect). Expectations of pain and manhood along with the decision that fibromyalgia is a woman's condition really got in the way of what is a very simple diagnosis--a touch test of 18 points on the body. It was a year of negative tests and being told he was just "getting older" before a doctor did the test. The eventual diagnosis took less than 2 minutes.

As we contemplate health care reform in this country, a lot of debate has taken on a "blame the victim" tone. I actually heard a doctor today say on "Talk of the Nation" that health care professionals would take better care of their own bodies if they weren't so busy taking care of lazy people who do not do what they should to prevent their health conditions. Yep, doctors are too busy doing important stuff to eat right and exercise, but the rest of us are just lazy. I turned off the radio at that point, screaming a few explitives.

Stigma doesn't help anyone. Lifestyle and prevention methods have their place, but they are not the solution nor the problem. Stigma will do more to kill than these other issues and the answer isn't to shame others into a better lifestyle.


gabfly said...

Hey, Pattie. I do water aerobics five times a week, four times in a class. One woman asked me if I wanted to join Weight Watchers, and I announced to her that "I don't believe in weight loss, just eating right and exercising." It's a little thing, but I feel terrific about it. (Because I've lost some weight in the last half a year, mostly because of depression but also because of the exercise I've done to try to keep the worst of my depression at bay, people like this one assume that I am in her camp.)

Verria Kelly said...

Pattie, This isn't the first time I've heard of hypothyroidism causing weight gain and going undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for long periods of time. As a Health and Wellness Coach, I often wonder how long it will take doctors to acknowledge this problem and begin focusing on ways to diagnose hypothyroidism and other conditions early on as opposed to blaming the patient.