Graves Disease Diagnosis a $4,319 Nightmare (Graves’ Disease Is one Cause of Tinnitus, Ringing in the Ears)

Three years ago, in February 2004, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, a hyperthyroid condition that is one cause of tinnitus (ringin in the ears). It was a ridiculous odyssey, getting this diagnosis, but it was a relief because I knew instantly it was right.

The diagnosis odyssey, nightmare really, started with my dermatologist telling me that I had ptosis—my left eyelid was drooping. Um, sounds bad.

The Optometrist cost $401 out-of-pocket (after insurance) and included a pair of glasses; I’m not counting this in the nightmare total.

First I visited my optometrist. I could see quite well, by the way, but figured it was time for the usual battery of tests, which this time included photographs of the inside of each eyeball. Interesting.

The optometrist did her examination and said it wasn’t so much that my left eyelid was drooping but that my right eye was poking out as if something were behind, pushing it. Um, sounds really bad.

Rosalie's Photo

You can see in this photo that my right eye looks bigger. The left eye, squinty as it is, turns out to be normal. This photo was taken February 2007, three years after the diagnosis, and the right eye looks much better—less as if it’s staring at you.

General Practitioner (cost $100 plus $313, my out-of-pocket $45 plus $108)

I went to my general practitioner. He said that he once had a patient with tumors behind her eye, but a surgeon removed them and she was fine. Um, sounds extremely bad.

The general practitioner sent me for a blood test (cost $313, my out-of-pocket $108) that included thyroid hormone levels (T3, T4 and TSH). They came back “normal,” but he wouldn’t tell me anything more so I don’t know if they were “low normal” or “high normal.” Thanks.

This doctor is a “wait and see” kind of guy, but I didn’t like that. Was I supposed to wait until my eyeball popped out of my head? From tumors?

At my insistence, he sent me to an ophthalmologist, first one, then a second, then a third.

First Ophthalmologist (cost $145; my out-of-pocket $45)

The first ophthalmologist measured my eyeball’s protrusion with a hand-held ruler-like device that looked like it should have been retired in the 1960s. He declared my eye to be within normal range and said to come back in six months to see if it had changed. I don’t think so!

I went back to my general practitioner and told him I didn’t like that ophthalmologist. So off I went to another.

Second Ophthalmologist (cost $375, my out-of-pocket $161)

This ophthalmologist insisted on doing the same things as the optometrist, by his own office staff, which of course I didn’t need but for which I had to pay. Then he measured my eyes with the same useless ruler the first guy used and said just about the same thing: nothing. Come back? I don’t think so.

In the mean time, my right eye was protruding even more and it didn’t feel good.

I could tell it was worse because the white of the right eye showed above the iris without my forcing open my eyes. Normal for me is that the eyelid sits about half way between the pupil and the top of the iris.

Back I went to my general practitioner to do more insisting.

Third Ophthalmologist (cost $895 plus $2,491, my out-of-pocket $219 plus $1,463)

The third ophthalmologist was a specialist you can see only with a referral from another doctor, and he’s the one I should have gone to to begin with. He knew immediately what was wrong: Graves’ Disease.

Unfortunately, before a patient sees this specialist, she has to have an MRI (cost $2,491, my out-of-pocket $1,463) plus all the previous optometry tests, again, by this specialist’s own office staff. Did he use any of that information? No. He even said the MRI was useless. It was done wrong in spite of my having given the lab the doctor’s exact request. Who knew?

What about the normal blood test? That happens.

Why only one eyeball popping out? It has to start somewhere.

How to proceed? Not with him.

OK! Back to the general practitioner.

Why does medical care cost so much?

The total billed (excluding the optometrist) was $4,319 for my Graves’ Disease diagnosis. My out-of-pocket was $2,041, and, except for the five minutes with the last ophthalmologist, it was 100% useless.

By the way, this was before I started working on my tinnitus, that ringing in my ears, and I was happy I didn’t have ptosis—that’s for old people!

4 smashing comments for this post.

  1. Curing Graves’ Disease and Tinnitus: Eliminating Alcohol Reduces Hyper-Thyroid and Ringing in the Ears : Said:

    […] February 2004, I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, a hyper-thyroid condition in which your body runs too fast. It can bring on hyper-tension (high […]

  2. Protruding Eye Sunburns Easily: Protect Bulging Eyes with Wrap-around Sunglasses and Wear that Sunscreen : Said:

    […] Saturday, May12, 2007, was a big day in the sun for me and my bulging eyeball* got sunburned. (The other eye made it through the day just fine.) Plus, my face got […]

  3. Sleepless Nights: Getting Help for Psychophysiologic Insomnia : Said:

    […] all the time. Being “too up” is a strong indicator of the hyper-thyroid. (See the odyssey of my Graves Disease diagnosis at this previous […]

  4. Mirian Said:

    Some herbal remedies exist which can be used to support all body systems involved in helping the ear to perform its tasks of clear hearing and balance, as well as the circulatory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems.

    Some of the most common herbs biochemical tissue salts used are
    • Ginkgo Biloba is excellent for a number of cerebral and circulatory disorders. It is probably the most widely-used herb for tinnitus and many sufferers swear by this natural ingredient.
    • Rosemary dilates and strengthens blood vessels and is an excellent circulation tonic. Rosemary is particularly useful for tinnitus that is caused or worsened by high blood pressure and other circulatory conditions.
    • Avena Sativa is effective in reducing high cholesterol levels which can contribute to circulatory problems which cause tinnitus.
    • Wild Hyssop is also useful in reducing pain and inflammation.
    • Salicylic Ac. (30C) is indicated for tinnitus with loud roaring or ringing sounds, which may be accompanied by deafness or vertigo. This remedy is particularly useful in people whose symptoms began with a bout of flu, Meniere’s disease, or long-term use of aspirin.
    • Ferrum phosphoricum (Ferrum phos. D6) is a homeopathic biochemic tissue salt which supports the absorption of iron in the body. The protective myelin sheath which surrounds all nerve tissue needs iron to supply this vital nutrient to the nerve cells it encases. Regular use of Ferrum phos. can help to prevent dizziness, headaches and restlessness and is of great benefit for those who tend to feel irritable, tense and tired.
    • Magnesium phosphate (Mag. phos. D6) is well-known as a homeopathic painkiller, and is also of great benefit to the health of the nerves. It acts as a natural anti-spasmodic and a nerve and muscle relaxant and is also frequently recommended for stress headaches.

    Hope all this helps. Good Luck! You may check the source link below for more details on the above.

    Rosalie responds: Thank you for this information. I know very little about herbal or homeopathic remedies. Please re-send the source link–it got lost.

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Health Tip
People with tinnitus are found to have lower levels of zinc and B-12. Get yours in a B-Complex plus Zinc and Vitamin C
Health Tip
Hyper-thyroid can cause tinnitus, even before a hormone imbalance is detected. Vitamin D helps your body regulate thyroid. Get it naturally from
Cod Liver Oil

Information in these pages is not a substitute for visiting your doctor
and is not intended as medical advice.

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