Ever since my first lab work for Hypothyroid testing came back “normal,” I have a terrible fear of failing my labs. I always knew my body wasn’t working right, but year after year the lab work claimed otherwise. Frustrating! And the doctors only believed the numbers, they didn’t believe me. It was a dreadful feeling. In my heart I knew something was wrong. But somehow I felt like a liar, because see there, the numbers don’t lie so it must be me. But how does one actually fail at lab work?
Its easy to feel judged and criticized if doctors only look at labs. Therein lies the problem. It wasn’t my lab work that was failing, I hadn’t found the right kind of doctor, someone who looked at the lab work but also listened to how I felt.
When I finally found the doctor who treated me (let’s call him Dr. B) he explained that lab work has ranges of normal, but “normal” is different for everyone. In addition to lab work, he said we needed to look at symptoms, as well as a my “sense of self” (meaning, trust my own instinct about my health). Hallelujah! This philosophy about medicine was totally different from my past experiences.
Here is a great example of where symptoms and labs didn’t line up, where my lab work failed me. In my situation, my TSH was low before getting treatment. Currently with treatment my TSH is .01. By the standards of many doctors and Endocrinologists this TSH level is considered suppressed, which means they would take me off thyroid medicine immediately (horrifying). Yet with suppressed TSH, I feel better now than I ever felt in my life. My Hypothyroid symptoms are almost all gone. Its confusing when the labs say one thing but your body says something else. Luckily my doctor looks beyond labs.
Still many doctors and Endocrinolgists are using the unreliable TSH test results to diagnose Hypothyroidism. According to my experience and patients on Stop the Thyroid Madness TSH is not a reliable marker for Thyroid function. If treatment is based entirely on the TSH test, how many people out there are “failing at lab work” and not getting treated?
So beware any doctor who makes you feel like a Hypothyroid failure! It may not be the lab work after all.