First Endocrinologist's Visit and What to Expect

This article will explain about the first endocrinologist's visit and what to expect. Since I've been through it, I thought I'd add in some of my own experience. I've always been afraid of the unknown and have learned to help myself out by doing research on all things new. This has helped my "white coat" anxiety immensely. I can therefore go into the new situation with as much knowledge as possible so that, in this case, I'll know what the doctor is talking about.

So, when I went to my first endocrinologist visit, I did know what to expect because I had done my research beforehand.

When he explained about how free T4 and free T3 were as important to monitor as the TSH, I already knew that. When he explained there were tests to run to check for an autoimmune disease that might be causing my thyroid to malfunction, I already knew that. Okay, so I vaguely knew all that. After all, this entire hypothyroidism thing was new to me, but at least I'd read about all the terms he talked about.

I'd now like to share with you what I did to prepare and save time.

Before the visit: 
I read that I would need to know my family history of medical problems, especially thyroid related. I already knew thyroid problems ran in my family, but if you are not sure, ask your family members. This information is important for the doctor to know.
Because of my mental fog, I decided to write all needed information down, like:
  • Write a list of any medications or supplements you are taking. I wasn't currently taking any meds at the time so this was no problem for me.
  • Make another list of symptoms you have been experiencing. Necessary, because when I'm at the doctor and he or she asks me what symptoms I've been experiencing, my mind goes blank (this was even before hypothyroidism!)
  • Get copies of previous lab tests that relate to your condition. Again, I didn't need to do this because up to this point, I had been a pretty darn healthy person.
  • Create a list of questions to ask. This is very, very important to do, especially if we're experiencing mental fog.
Lastly, be prepared for a long stay, particularly the time spent in the waiting room before the actual visit. If there's one thing I can't stand is sitting and waiting, watching the second hand tick away with nothing to do but try not to stare at everybody for a little entertainment. I've learned to take a bag with reading material, hand-held games, crossword puzzle, or whatever hobby I can fit in. Waiting is the biggest time waster known to humankind. With doctor delays, emergencies, and unforeseen circumstances, it's best to be prepared.

During the Visit:
  • One of the first things the doctor will do is examine your neck and throat to feel for enlargement of the gland or for growths on the thyroid known as nodules. This is also to feel for enlarged lymph nodes.
  • You will likely answer questions about your medical history, your family’s medical history, and if you are on any medications. Do not forget to refer to your lists.
  • The busy doctor will try to speed things along, so this is where your list of questions comes in handy. Note that some doctors will charge for an extra office visit if they think you are asking too many questions, so inquire beforehand what the office policy is about that.
  • Follow-up tests may be ordered to help determine the treatment plan that is right for you.There is a test called Thyroid Nuclear Medicine Scan. The only time this is necessary is if the doctor thinks you have a thyroid condition called Graves' Disease or hyperthyroidism. So, here is where being your own advocate comes in. You can refuse this test if Graves' Disease/hyperthyroidism has been ruled out.

After the initial visit, the doctor will most likely give you a prescription for your particular thyroid problem. You will probably need further tests such as a thyroid ultrasound. The doctor should discuss what tests might be needed, but if you don’t understand anything, from what the tests entail to terminology, again, be your own advocate and ask for explanations.

Read on to find out more about the thyroid nodules ultrasound.
Advice From a Doctor About First Thyroid Visit
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