Friday, May 28, 2010

In my dream, I'm a teaching scientist and I live in Philadelphia

Another doctor's appointment today. My TSH levels are higher each test but still "normal". Up to 2.6 now. My symptoms are worse. Body temp never gets above 98.1 F and is usually much closer to 97, sometimes as low as 96.5. Face puffy-puffy, joints achy-achy. I sleep. A lot.

I do think my doctor is finally convinced that a "wait-and-see" approach is no longer appropriate.

"Your thyroid is HUGE, you definitely have a goiter" she tells me.

Today I think I managed to convince her that she has to start actively treating me. Does this mean I get treatment today? No. But I've got a promise that by July, after a few more tests, she will do something. We'll see. I'd say that I won't hold my breath but I might as well hold it a little since the ping-pong ball in my neck, which is pressing on my wind-pipe, saves me so much effort in the breath-holding department.

I am starting to understand how so many people turn to crack-pot "alternative" medicine. I don't mean to suggest that non-western medicine is crap. I'm talking about the modern day medicine hucksters, selling fake "remedies" on late-night TV. The type of advert where it is claimed that scientists have discovered something great for your weight loss, or your sleep problems, or your poop problems but are just "keeping it a secret".

I'm a little embarrassed to admit this but right now, I think I might be the target of those ads. I know that I'm not well. I'm pretty sure I've been sick, and getting sicker, for two years and that it's affecting my work, my relationships, and the rest of my life. (What is there other than work and relationships you ask? Um... laundry and dishes mostly). I'm glad I don't have a TV or I could see ordering some of 2010's latest snake oil. I wish I were kidding.

I live in a sort of permanent fog now. I'm really worried about my job performance. I fantasize about things that used to be routine for me. I live in my head a lot and my fantasy life has always been really rich.

For example: Fantasy Life B.L.T (Before Lumpolina Thyroiditis)

I go to a cafe to read the paper. I have a perfect latte and also strike up a conversation with a stranger. She turns out to be a recruiter for a new biology-environment-human-medicine-space-travel think tank. A week later she calls to see if I can do a little consulting for them. They are really lacking an ECM biologist on their team. It goes well. I keep my job in Philly but moonlight enough to take short trips to exotic places like Taiwan, Cuba and Outer Space. I use those experiences to enhance my teaching and thus win a teaching award. I also use my new found connections to put together the best young investigator grant EVER. In my spare time I write a book about my work as a teaching biology-environmental-human-medicine-space-traveler scientist. It's so informative but also so warm and hilarious that it becomes a best seller. I'm invited to go on the Daily Show. John Stewart loves me and invites me to have dinner with his family. John Cusak (but not jerky) or Fareed Zakaria (but not married) or Sidney Poitier (but not married and from 1968) or David Sedaris (but not gay and less OCD) happens to be in the audience of the show because he's coming to dinner at the Stewart house and he falls in love with me. It becomes a famous romance and we write several books and/or screen plays while I also pursue a successful career in science. I can afford to move my mom, Froggie and her brother to Philly. Plus, through all this I'm 30 lbs thinner and have really great clothes. Plus two Cell papers. Plus a Nature paper. Plus I have some gorgeous babies with John-Fareed-Sidney-David. Plus some other great stuff.

Ha ha! Fun.
However, my fantasy life is very different these days.

For example: Fantasy Life W.L.T (With Lumpolina Thyroidcrapitis)

It's Saturday and I manage to wake up before noon. When I wake up, I feel refreshed from sleeping and my body doesn't hurt too much in my joints for me to move about the apartment. I have a healthy breakfast because I feel good and I'm hungry. Then, I pack up some laundry and take it down to the laundromat to wash while I plan experiments for the week. I finish my laundry, drop it off at my house, and head in to the lab for a few hours. I get all prepped for the coming week and leave feeling on top of my job and excited about research. I walk the 1.5 miles back from work chatting with my mom or A~ on my cell phone. I pick up some fresh groceries on the way home. I make a yummy dinner and then wander out to meet a friend for a glass of wine before calling it an early night. It's fun to have a drink with a friend because my head is clear, I can focus on what they have to tell me and I have something to talk about other than how much I sleep and how frustrated I am with my health care. I'm a teaching/research post-doc and I live in Philadelphia. My clothes aren't that great but at least they are clean. Plus some other great stuff.

Right now, B.L.T. fantasies and W.L.T. fantasies feel sort of equally possible for me. I wish my doctor(s) could understand how scary that is for me. It's not good when you are as likely to marry Sidney Poitier from 1968 or a hetro David Sedaris as you are to get your laundry done on a Saturday. Not good at all. Hoping for July.

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