This is part 2 of a series. Part 1 is here.
Fast forward to the endocrinologist: palpation of my neck, ultrasound, blood test. At my second appointment with her, the endocrinologist seemed thrilled, elated, even a little giddy. I recalled the young doctors on TV who fight for the opportunity to make a new diagnosis or perform a new procedure. Hiply clad in what looked like 80s-vintage disco-wear, my doctor had apparently performed the endocrinology equivalent of baseball’s grand slam or football’s 99 yard kick-off return.
“I’m sorry to say it’s unequivocal. You have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid gland. I’ve seen way worse, though: no lumps or nodules. The good news is we don’t need a biopsy. We also found you have really low levels of Vitamin B12, which is common in this situation. I made an appointment for you, with a member of my staff who’ll get you started on that therapy.”
The B12 therapist (I think he was actually a Nurse’s Aide) closes the door behind me in a room smaller than many walk-in closets. He tells me the standard procedure in B12 deficiency is self-administered B12 injections. They’re delivered in the thigh and we’re about to do a practice injection. I’ll need to pull my pants down to my knees.
“This comes as a surprise”, I say, as I bravely unbuckle my belt and lower my pants, sitting back on the cold, hard, darkly stained and polished wooden chair. He explains that usually the office would have told me about this; apparently they forgot. “Usually you’d have the real B12, but there wasn’t time to order the prescription, so you’ll use saline.” He hands me a syringe and a brown, fluid-filled vial.
On his instruction, I awkwardly draw transparent liquid from the vial with the syringe.
“OK, now you swab, with this antiseptic pad, the area where you’ll inject, right there in the meaty part of the leg. Then, you’ll just quickly shove the needle in, kind of like throwing a dart. You’ll get the hang of it.”
I smeared the antiseptic gauze over a large area of my left thigh. I imagined what it might be like to be a flight attendant with no flight training who’s told she needs to land the 777 with all 235 passengers aboard, or everyone may die.
“Are you kidding me?!”, I thought.
Generally I’m a good sport, but this whole sequence of events crossed a line. My brain exploded.
This true story continues here.
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