WHAT IS NORMAL?
As most of you know, I have been dealing with my mother’s aging medical concerns for the last year. The latest challenge was helping her review her recent blood work. I feel we’ve all seen a result given followed by a “normal” range for that particular test. Our physicians all want to see us in this range but what is more important is where within the range we, as individuals, fit and feel best.
Her most recent lab work came back with everything stated as “normal” or within normal range. Her physician gave her a clean bill of health but, Mom just wasn’t feeling well. She had a minor cardiac event a year ago and was told her fatigue was a result of that surgery. This may be a good place to tell you that the Good Doctor has told me that minor problems (or surgery) happen to someone else and that if something happens to you it is a major problem. Well, this minor problem was fast becoming my major problem when she sent me copies of her blood work. A couple of times.
Looking back to my own experience, I suspected that my mother’s thyroid may be playing a part in her being constantly tired and lethargic. It was within normal range but, definitely on the low side – like about 1.2. I knew that I, personally, function best when my level is around 5.0-6.0. I suggested that she discuss this with her Internist and see if she would consider adjusting her thyroid medicine. The dosage was adjusted and 3 months later her reading was higher and she felt better.
Now, I am not suggesting that this is the cure for everything and I am not a Physician but, I do feel that we as patients need to advocate for ourselves and our loved ones. Just because our results fall within the “normal range” it does not necessarily mean that this is where we will feel best. After all, many results are a broad range and our bodies may feel comfortable at closer to one end of “normal” than the other. So my non-medical advice is to discuss this with your physician. If you feel they are not open to discussion about your concern … RUN! Find another physician immediately. Doctors these days are often seeing 40 or more patients per day. This is not a valid excuse for dismissing your concerns but, it does happen. You have to be firm. You have to know your “numbers” and where you feel best. The best thing I can do is share my experience. I changed my PCP (Primary Care Physician) a couple of years ago. When I sat with her and reviewed my bloodwork, I shared that my Thyroid was too low and that my medication needed to be adjusted. The “normal range” wording came up….I quickly responded with “but, I am not everyone and I don’t function well at this level”. I asked to have my prescription changed with a blood draw and appointment in 3 months. Needless to say, I knew what I needed and this all worked out. When dealing with older loved ones they may still feel that whatever the person in the white lab coat says is carved in stone…..simply not the case. Most physicians are open to listening. Especially when you know where you feel best.. the takeaway here is ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN WHEN YOU HAVE A CONCERN? ARE THEY OPEN TO TRYING WHAT YOU WANT TO DO?