I Was Recently Diagnosed With Hyperparathyroidism

I am a 51 year old African American female; about 10 pounds overweight; eat a moderate diet (no red meat, lots of vegetables & fruits, no shellfish, seeds rather than nuts, drink lots of water) except for my sweet tooth. I do yoga at least 3 times a week. In November/December, I had gone in to see my primary care physician about accordion looking nails and general achiness. My regular PCP was not in but another doc in the practice saw me, looked over my past blood tests and said, your calcium level has been up several times, why don't we refer you to an endocrinologist. My doctor's office recently got a web based portal that stories of history of test results although it only goes back approximately a year. So, being the "pack rat" that I am, I searched my former blood tests and noticed that my calcium level had been elevated since 2009 and my PCP never pointed it out or mentioned anything to me.

To put this in context, I have been to neurologists, dermatologists and orthopedic surgeons taking x-rays and MRIs since 2009 b/c of numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, loss of hair along the front hair line, chronic back pain to the point of where I could barely get out of the bed, a miniscus tear from running up a couple flight of stairs, an all of a sudden misaligned patella, trouble swallowing, problems focusing and retaining information. I thought I was going to hell in a handbasket with age.
So last year when I turned 50, spots start to appear on my kidneys and b/c it is not enormous or a stone, I'm told it's nothing let's just watch it. My endo, who is great, says my calcium level too low to be causing problems and orders battery of tests to rule everything else out. I respect that but I was starting to wane on my yoga practice and exercise b/c of the bone and joint pain. Finally, I had enough and essentially tricked my PCP into ordering a DEXA scan. Guess what, from an MRI 2 years ago to now, I have "significant" osteoporosis. Although calcium levels not super high, my endo finally decided to refer me to a surgeon because of the bone scan and the symptoms I reported. I think if I didn't force the bone scan, I would still be taking tests and waiting until I was totally incapacitated before something was done.

I did some research on parathyroid surgeons. I would love to be able to go to the Norman Parathyroid Clinic at Tampa General but alas, my insurance won't cover it. So, being the researcher that I am, I called the Norman Center for the ICD-9/CPT code for the minimally invasive radioguided parathyroidectomy and found out which doctors were doing the most in my neck of the woods. I wanted someone with a volume of at least 200 annually. I could not find one, but did find one that was close at 175 and another that, although 75 (which I consider too low) has some good reviews so I will speak with him but am not feeling impressed by him at the moment. I do think that 150-200 per year should be the minimum as it indicates that on average the doc is doing at least one of these surgeries either every work day or every other work day. I would suggest folks contact their local department of health and see if the DOH or an affiliated research organization can do search on doctors performing the procedure. After speaking with a colleague that was Medical Director for an HMO, he also recommended that I go with a surgeon whose specialty was Otolaryngology. I am finding more that do parathyroid are endocrinology specialists. I have to delve more into that distinction.

Did I mention that I am a recently certified chair yoga teacher and it is a practice I want to build in my current corporate workplace and then eventually (10 years) retire as an instructor -so the symptoms of this condition is causing me some anxiety about my life choices. I will keep you posted on how the visits with the surgeons turns out.

AudreyG AudreyG
51-55, F
May 25, 2012