I first saw an allergist after suffering from hives and swelling for 3 weeks. I assumed I had an allergy. The allergist (my son's doctor) is very intelligent, progressive, and compassionate and she's the first one to run thyroid tests. She told me then that hives are very rarely as a result of allergies. She checked the T4, TSH, TPO and Thyroid Peroxidase. My antibodies are EXTREMELY high so she referred me back to my GP.
The GP (whom I hadn't seen in almost 6 years because I'm never sick!) ran a thyroid panel and also a CBC w/dif, ANA, Glucose, ect. His nurse said I was being checked for everything under the sun.
I also had an ultrasound for the goiter and found that I have many nodules. The largest measures 1.4 centimeters across but they believe it is probably benign and I have to have the ultrasound re-checked in 6 mos. The ANA came back EXTREMELY high also so he referred me to the rheumatologist. In case you don't know, the ANA is a general test used to screen for auto-antibodies (anti-bodies that attack your organs) and is a good indicator of Lupus, Scleroderma, Rheumatoid arthritis, and about 30 other auto-immune diseases.
So, when I went to the rheumatologist I already had researched what all my labs meant and I had even told my hubby I thought I had Hashimoto's. I admit I played dumb at first in the dr.'s office to hear his explanation of everything. That way I knew whether or not this guy was telling me things that were consistant with the research I'd done. If he hadn't told me what I expected to hear or had not had compassion then I had already set up a second opinion appointment with another rheumatologist in another hospital in another city. As it turned out after I got his attn (he started with the "book" attitude) then he became very willing to talk to me. At that point I had many questions about what it meant....not what it was. I think he realized I knew more than I was letting on and he ended up printing out the info that dr's use to study and treat this for my information. It's just a bit over my head (understatement!) but with my medical dictionary in my lap I get through it and feel more assured. This all took 2 mos from the time I first had hives.
So...if I were you I'd ask every doc I've seen recently to fax a copy of my labs and x-rays to me. That way you'd know for sure what they have tested and could post here with results or check other resources. You have a right to know what they're doing with you. It's your BODY and your MONEY that you pay them for goodness sakes!
BTW- Because I had copies of both my labs with me when I went to the rheumatologist I by-passed having to wait for lab results again. He had the last copy but not the first or the radiologist report. I was able to provide the additional info to him right then and there. Don't assume the medical profession is taking care of it all. They miss a lot.
Please let me know what other questions I can help you with. I am very new at this myself and I know having a response is very important to me too. I don't claim to know everything, but I feel like the three doc's I've seen have all been progressive and compassionate. If you've read many of the posts here you find that's not generally the case for most folks. I am very fortunate....and very stubborn. I had already decided what type of treatment I felt was comfortable for me before I went to the rheumatologist.
Take care- Rhonda
[This message has been edited by happy4us (edited 09-14-2003).]