Numbers influence our lives in so many different ways. For those who are living with chronic illness, numbers often take on special significance. We may weigh ourselves, first thing in the morning, to check that specific number on the scale. Many medications are associated with weight gain.
A wide variety of measurements provide important feedback about our medical conditions. Those individuals diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes need to pay close attention to their blood glucose numbers, multiple times per day. Laboratory values provide important information about how well our conditions are being managed.
To monitor my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, I have routine thyroid function panel tests. These results provide critical information about whether the dose of my thyroid replacement medication needs to be altered, whether increased or decreased.
Serial MRI’s are used to monitor whether I have developed additional MS lesions. At every follow-up visit, my neurologist measures how long it takes me to walk a distance of twenty-five feet.
Hormone assays yield levels that guide my physician’s treatment decisions regarding continued hormone replacement therapy. Blood work yields important information about how to manage my iron-deficiency anemia. I complete an annual dilated eye examination; these results dictate the specific strengths of my eyeglass, as well as contact lens, prescriptions.
To monitor the status of my subglottic stenosis, my ENT uses an in-office bronchoscopy; this provides quantitative information regarding my degree of airway occlusion.
The neuropsychological test batteries that I have administered measure a wide range of information about various aspects of cognitive ability. Multiple forms of measurement are used to guide the management of chronic illness. Pay close attention to these numbers!