012.30.09An Endocrinologist is My Special Kind of Specialist.
Posted Dec 30 2009 12:00am
The first time I ever read the word “endocrinology” was in my pre-nursing textbook. That’s when I saw the picture of the woman with Cushing’s disease which prompted my investigation of the topic. After my family doctor did the initial test, I had to see a specialist to confirm and treat this endocrine disease – someone called an endocrinologist.
I’m guessing an endocrinologist is the least known specialist in the medical profession. Most people know that cardiologists deal with heart disease, pulmonologists deal with respiratory diseases, immunologists deal with allergies, dermatologists deal with skin diseases and rheumatologists deal with arthritis and auto-immune diseases. Even though close to 24 million Americans have diabetes, few of them know that the most skilled specialist to treat them is an endocrinologist. If you’ve never heard about endocrinology, don’t feel bad. I’ve watched other medical professionals’ eyes glaze over when I’ve talked about it.
An endocrinologist specializes in treating the glands responsible for internal body secretions such as the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenals, gonads, and pancreas. The glands secrete hormones which affect your metabolism and body systems. When one gland isn’t doing its job properly, a domino affect occurs and unless treated, creates an imbalance and problems for you. Even though a lot of internal medicine family doctors have been trained in various internal diseases, I’m a strong proponent of finding a specialist who treats nothing but the disease you have.
So my family doctor needed to send me to an endocrinologist (I watched her eyes glaze over), but there weren’t any in my community and she didn’t know of one anywhere else. Fortunately, I had found some information concerning one in Arizona specializing in Cushing’s (some specialists even specialize in their specialty), and I told my doctor who I was going to. When I called and made the appointment, I was told it wouldn’t be for six weeks. Now I realize that seems like a long time, but a long wait is often the case in getting to see many good specialists. (I got impatient waiting for one and paid the price , but that’s a story for another day). And once you get there, you may still have a long wait (how about 2 hours?). Just learn to pack a lunch, bring a good book, and don’t plan on doing anything else that day.