my adventure in telehealth…

… and an update on my Hashimoto’s adventure.

March; when the pandemic hit Michigan

I was feeling like crap. I was feeling like my Levothyroxine was no longer working. I was looking forward to my March appointment and discussing my concerns with my endocrinologist. Then, we went into quarantine days before my appointment.

I rescheduled that appointment. They were completely understanding (and I likely wasn’t the only one cancelling) and scheduled me for a month out (anticipating the pandemic to be under control by then).

April; covid-19 hasn’t disappeared but I feel worse

By the end of April, I was back to falling asleep on the couch when I was supposed to be cooking dinner. In fact, I had been quarantined with my family for a month and a half, and I felt like I wasn’t spending any time with them at all. I could barely muster the energy to watch them doing things.

As my appointment approached, I started to experience severe anxiety and panic. It was pure relief when I received a phone call informing me that my appointment would now be done from home via video conference. I just had to go to the lab for a blood draw.

scariest blood draw I’ve ever had

I arrived at the medical facility. There was a masked guard, a rather large man, parked at a podium just outside the automatic doors. A maskless young lady was arguing vehemently with him because he would not allow her in without a mask. I waited more than six feet away from them. When she stormed off, I approached.

The guard was a very soft spoken man. I am hard of hearing and often rely on lipreading to get the majority of a message. After begging him to repeat himself numerous times, I ascertained that he was questioning if I’d had a fever or any other symptoms. I had not. He wrote down my name and phone number, the time of my entrance to the building, and then he took my temperature and marked it down on his clip board. Then, I was permitted to enter.

I stayed back from the reception desk while I checked in. She pointed me to a chair flanked by two backwards facing chairs. There I waited until registration came to get me.

She sat me in a chair across the room from her desk. A small device with a stylus sat on a small table in front of me. She babbled on about how safe I was in that building compared to the hospital, which she worked at as well. She then described her hospital set up that kept her completely separate from patients and how most of it was done over the phone and she never saw them. I wished I was getting that kind of registration.

Then, the receptionist leaned in the door, over me, and informed the registrant that she was going to lunch. She had already removed her mask. Then, just moments later, a maskless security guard poked his head in (also above me) to make sure the registrant was aware the receptionist had taken a lunch.

I finally finished my registration and was sent to sit in another waiting room where every other chair was turned backwards. There, I waited for the phlebotomist to call my name. She was nice. She was so very nice. She hugged me after she drew my blood. Said she knew she shouldn’t, but she felt that she needed to hug me. (was this just her way? did she hug everyone?)

Days later…

I followed the link from an email and joined a virtual waiting room at my endocrinologist’s office. It felt awkward, and I worried over how silly I looked in the little square in the corner.

The receptionist came on first. She verified my identity. I could see another receptionist (socially distanced) behind her at another desk with another phone. I was sent back to the virtual waiting room. There I waited for the nurse.

She came on. She was obviously in a patient exam room. The door was closed, and she was all alone. She was lonely (her words) and extremely chatty. She regaled me with personal stories in between questions about my health, but we made it through. We swapped goodbyes, and my screen blanked out.

Back to the virtual waiting room, though I’m not entirely certain it finished loading before my endocrinologist picked up. He was in his office, sitting comfortably at his desk. He, too, was more chatty than I remembered him.

I had been nervous about the efficiency of telemedicine. How can a doctor see me through a small phone screen and call me examined? Somehow, he made it feel even more thorough than an in-person visit. Maybe it was the conversation that peppered my exam?

my Hashimoto’s update

Between my bloodwork results and my personal struggles, my endocrinologist made some adjustments to my dosage. I’d been at 100 mcg of Levothyroxine. He said that he was going to skip the 112 mcg and move me right up to the 125 mcg. That’s what I’m on now; 125 mcg every morning.

I still feel sluggish. I feel like my body has so much healing to do. But, I finally feel like I’m on the right track. I still have my days where I struggle to muster the energy to do the simplest of tasks, but they are fewer and farther between.

I hope to feel like myself again someday. However, I have to admit that I’m not entirely certain what a forty-year old me is meant to feel like. This Hashimoto’s has been dragging me down for so long, now.

a great experience

Overall, I felt that telemedicine was a great alternative to having to visit the doctor’s office. It helped to ease my anxiety and allowed for me to get necessary medical care during a pandemic with minimal risk of exposure. I believe that telemedicine is an option I would use in the future, even post pandemic.

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