A little over two years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease. At the time I didn’t know what a thyroid was, but unlike my doctors I was able to use deductive reasoning to gather that my sudden ill health had nothing to do with babies. The math was simple: no sex + no artificial insemination = not pregnant. Yet, if I were pregnant my doctors would be thrilled. It would offer them an explanation and a solution all wrapped up into one bundle of joy.
I was feeling ill before school one day. My head was pounding and I felt dizzy. Despite my protests, my mother dragged me to the walk-in clinic. The doctor was nice and the the appointment didn’t last long. After hearing my symptoms, taking my blood pressure, and listening to my breathing, he very politely told my mother to leave the room. He asked me three questions; “Are you sexually active?, Do you smoke or take any drugs? And do you drink alcohol?” My answers were honest but unexciting: no, no and no. He frowned and prescribed blood work to be completed immediately.
The following morning I received a phone call. Reluctantly, I answered, “Hello?”
“Hello, this is Doctor Wilson calling, your blood work indicates that you have a problem with your thyroid. Would you be able to come to my office today?”
I groaned, “ Do I have to? I really don’t feel good so I’d rather not.”
“What I meant,” he said, “ was that I NEED you to come in right now. I’m giving you an appointment for 9:30.”
I glanced at the clock. It read 8:45. My mother called a cab and then she called my father. She told him to meet us at the doctor’s office for the unveiling of the malfunction in daughter #1.
The doctor met with us, explaining that my thyroid numbers were on the floor, a concerning phenomenon. He ordered more tests to be completed after the appointment, and then politely kicked my parents out of the room.
Gravely, he stared at me, “I just want to let you know that I ran a pregnancy test and you’re not pregnant.”
“No shit,” I thought but I smiled anyways and nodded politely. Who knows? Maybe he thought I bore a resemblance to the Virgin Mary.
Over the months that followed, I was sent to various doctors. None of which I particularly liked. Finally, one of my mom’s coworkers recommended an endocrinologist. Her office was a learning establishment, so I was seen by a student doctor first. He was young, no more than five or six years older than me, and on the soft spoken side. He asked my mother to leave the room.
At this point, I knew the drill and I calmly braced myself for the coming conversation. I thought about my high school history teacher telling the class, “Don’t have a SAD weekend kids! For those of you who were gone last week that stands for sex, alcohol and drugs.” Distracted, it took me a moment to realize that the young doctor wasn’t even talking about SAD. He was making small talk instead.
How’s my head today, he wanted to know. How are things at home? Isn’t the weather nice? What have I been up to this summer?
I politely answered his questions, growing increasingly confused. Why did he send my mother out of the room? Did he forget about sex, alcohol, and drugs?
In this mist of our conversation, his voice suddenly turned harsh, “Do you smoke?” he demanded.
“Nope,” I answered.
“Drink?” he questioned.
“Nope,” I repeated.
“Do any other drugs?” he persisted, his voice full of some sort of steely determination that gave the impression that he didn’t really believe any of my answers thus far.
I gave him the truth. “Nope,” I said, surprised at how badly I wanted to say yes, just for kicks–it probably would have made his day.
Determined to make me trust him, he continued to make small talk, asking me about my hobbies. “So you like art and improv? That’s really nice” he said in a warm, friendly tone, before once again changing his voice to something like accusation. “Are you sexually active?” he almost shouted.
I gave him one last honest, “Nope”.
He glared, obviously not believing me. I smiled sweetly, thinking about norms in today’s society. It dawned on me that it is no longer cool to be a virgin.
Especially, when you’re nauseous. As a female, when you’re nauseous everybody wants you to be pregnant, as though your suffering has to be for a greater cause. Since moving to Montreal in December, I’ve been getting long bouts of nausea. My mother once more took me to the walk-in clinic.
“I’m nauseous and I have thyroid problems,” I told the doc.
“Do you think that perhaps you could be pregnant?” He asked me, not looking up from his desk.
“Nope,” I said. He sighed, prescribed blood work and gave me a referral to see an endocrinologist.
A little over a week later, I was given an appointment with her.
“Your thyroid’s a little slow right now,” she told me, “but it’s not something that I would treat.”
“Okay” I said.
“Unless you’re having a baby; then I would treat it,” she amended.
“No baby,” I told her.
“Planning on having a baby soon?” she questioned.
“No,” I said.
“Well then I’m not treating it,” she announced. I smiled.
“Are you sexually active?” she asked me.
“Nope,” I replied, bored with my answers.
“Are you on contraceptives?” she said staring hard at my face.
“Nope,” I repeated.
“Well, are you planning on being sexually active soon?” she demanded. I perked up; a question that I hadn’t heard before! I decided that I too should vary my word choice.
“Not at the moment!” I answered cheerfully.
She rolled her eyes. “Obviously not right now!” she scoffed, gesturing between us.
“I meant not anytime soon,” I clarified.
She shook her head and mumbled to herself, “no treatment.”
The lesson was learned. A simple math equation: thyroid+baby=treatment.
I know what I have to do…
Photo Credits: Bich Ngoc Le Photography @ Unsplash