Lots of strange symptoms? Nothing that weight loss won’t cure!

Kae writes:

I have always been heavy for my height. However, as a child and teen I was also very active and generally healthy and so for a long time I only weighed 15-25 lbs more than I was “supposed” to. However, around the time I turned 16 my family’s regular doctor (whom we all loved) was preparing to retire and her office hired a new doctor to replace her. Unfortunately, this new doctor had a bad reputation for being dismissive and impatient. One friend whose mother used to go to him at his former office had nothing good to say about him. He had misdiagnosed her and the medicine he put her on made her illness worse. She switched doctors and warned everyone to avoid her old doctor if they could. Sadly, our insurance gave us limited options as far as primary docs were concerned and so we had to see him until we were eventually allowed to change providers.

My father hated him. He said he was rude and arrogant toward him. My mother disliked him because he never fully listened to her and basically ignored what little he did hear. Then I met him. At the time I was experiencing some strange symptoms. My periods were irregular and very heavy and painful, I was growing hair in unwanted places, and I was losing the hair on my head. Worst of all, I began to gain weight rapidly even though my eating habits and mobility had not changed. At the time I also suffered from terrible allergies that made it impossible to breathe through my nose. It was primarily because of the allergies that I went to see him. He took one look at me and suggested I lose weight. I then explained about all of the things I was experiencing and he dismissed it all, saying that all I needed was to try harder to lose weight and that everything would magically right itself.

His dismissal of my symptoms dismayed me, but as he didn’t indicate anything else might be wrong, I let it go. However, his blithe attitude also made me wary of doctors and I only ever saw one after that if I was really sick. Fast forward five years. I was 22 and newly married and I had just learned that I was pregnant. Because I now had different insurance I had to scramble to find a new OB/GYN. After a few let-downs I ended up with the nicest of doctors. During my first exam my new doc shook my hand, looked me over (while I was still fully clothed) and said, “I want you to get your thyroid checked.” When I asked why, she said that I had several very obvious outward signs of hypothyroidism and she was very surprised that no doctor had had me tested for it yet. We talked for a while about my symptoms: Unusual body hair growth, thinning head hair, painful and irregular periods, abrupt weight gain, and the fact that exercising wasn’t helping to take it off. She ordered the blood work and I had it done the next day.

Sadly, it was not quickly enough. I had a devastating miscarriage a week later, and although my doc said that anything could have triggered it, she surmised that my severe hypothyroidism was an attributing factor. The blood tests came back the day after the miscarriage and I was immediately put on thyroid medicine. Within three months my periods became lighter and more regular, my hair became thicker, and I dropped 30 lbs. I also became pregnant again and 39 weeks later I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Still, whenever I think back on it I get angry. If that bastard doctor had actually taken the time to listen to me or to see more than my weight, would my first child have survived? I do know that if I had been properly diagnosed when I was 16 I wouldn’t have had nearly as many problems as I ended up with.

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8 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. Miscarriage is so hard.

    Many women have concurrent issues with both hypothyroidism and PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome). The symptoms can overlap. You should check into both.

    I had some of the same symptoms you describe at around the same age. No one would take it seriously either. I finally found a doctor who took it seriously, got on thyroid meds, and felt much better. However, I still had some symptoms left, even when well-treated with meds. For some of us, it’s both PCOS and hypothyroidism.

    Now, you might well just have hypothyroidism and not PCOS. But you might want to check into the symptoms of PCOS and see if some of that still describes you. You might be on the milder or atypical end of PCOS (or you might not have it at all), but it’s worth researching more because it’s a very common pattern. I have info on my blog about PCOS, and links to other sites for further research. http://www.wellroundedmama.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. La

     /  July 3, 2012

    Same boat for me….losing my hair as a teen, brown colored patches under my breasts and arms, behind my knees and in the crook of my elbows. I even had doctors comment on that – yet, none of them did anything. They tested me and said I was normal. I too, lost my first pregnancy. I also have PCOS and was recently diagnosed with Type II Diabetes – I was insulin-resistent for many years before that.

    All of this medical information was available about me, yet doctor after doctor attributed all of my symptoms to overeating. Now, after many years of yo-yo dieting, I weigh over 300 pounds and am 50 years old. I did have one child nd I am so thankful for that. He is my joy.

    When it was possible to help me, nobody would. I, unfortunately, didn’t realize that I had a “physical” issue. I was so focused on being fat and unaccepted that I didn’t see anything else. I consider it such a waste of my time…all those years. I just hope that overweight people will be aware of the fact that they are human beings with the rights and privileges of any other human being. I still have trouble shaking the feeling that I am not as good as everyone else.

    Good luck to you. I really do hope that your body continues to respond to treatment and that you do really well and live a long and healthy life!

    Reply
  3. I am so sorry about your experiences, it truly is amazing how bad bed side manner can be with some doctors when it comes to being overweight. We could have written the same story, except I have a little boy!
    It is ridiculous how much doctors pin on fat as being the culprit of all that ails you. I’m glad you found out what was wrong, even if it did come too late.
    Lots of luck to you and your little one!

    Reply
  4. BBDee

     /  July 21, 2012

    Not surprising at all, considering I recently had a doctor try to push weight loss surgery on me as treatment for a sore throat & ear infection! And I saw an article just today about cataracts and of course it listed OBESITY as a risk factor. WTF?????

    Reply
    • Mich

       /  July 23, 2012

      That’s just wrong. My grandma had both cataracts, and she was skinny.

      Reply
      • G.

         /  August 21, 2012

        The thing is factor risk means that it is a possibility, not a certitude.
        It is only a question of numbers : a risk factor means that statistically, you have more probabilities to have a cataract if you are obese than if you are at a healthy weight.
        But when it happens to you, it does not matter that “statistics say that, when you are thin, you have X% less to have a cataract” because you live it at 100%, and not at X%.

        Mich, it is not because your grandma had both cataract and was skinny that it implies that obesity/unhealthy lifestyle is not a risk factor.
        As I said before, a factor of risk is only a statistic. A statistic is not a person.
        And you have other factor of risks for cataract, like having been a lot to the sun without sunglasses : obese or skinny, it is exactly the same problem, if you go on the sun without sunglasses, you are more at risk for cataract.
        But you could had wear your sunnies at the sun all your life and have a cataract anyway.
        A probability is not a certitude (it can be a nearly certitude, but never an absolute certitude).
        In medicine, you cannot say “never” and you cannot say “always”.

        I have ADHD and unilateral deafness. Statistics estimate such a combo at 1/10.000 persons (dixit my ENT doctor, a specialist of Single Sided Deafness).
        But I don’t live my ADHD and unilateral deafness at 1/10.000, I live it at 100% in my life.

        You don’t live on a probability when you have a rare combo of disorders. You live your rarity on its fullest.

        So statistics worth what they worth. They don’t imply your value.

        Reply
  5. singpretty

     /  January 2, 2013

    Your doctor experience mirrors mine… I had all of the same symptoms. My fate is the permanent loss of my hair, no where near the terrible loss of your child. But this is part of the anger I cannot yet let go.

    Reply
  6. La

     /  January 17, 2013

    I’m with you singpretty. I had a miscarriage of the first pregnancy. I also had all the obvious outward signs of hypothyroidism and PCOS. Not one doctor ever said anything about PCOS and when they did test my thyroid it was always on the high side of “normal.” That normal number has been revised and I am now on thyroid meds, but my weight has never gone down, I have permanent baldness and absolutely no energy. Have also developed Type II diabetes (I am 50 years old now). I did manage to have one child, he’s 19 now – he also has a thyroid issue. I haven’t run into many doctors that can get past the weight issue to treat the real problem. My current GP is very good and so far he’s actually treating my symptoms. I am hoping that it continues. But, with the Obamacare, I have a feeling there will be some hardships coming up for people with obesity issues. Waiting to see.

    Reply

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