Diagnosed by the man at the bar

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rhum-rhum nights, aka Friday-night drinks, has become quite the regularly-scheduled event for Gui and I. We meet up with friends at Le Caveau des Oubliettes, aka The Guillotine, in the 5th arrondissement to fill-up on their Friday night specialty, the rhum-rhum (made famous by the ultra-famous duo, Katia & Kyliemac) and engage in interesting banter with other angolophones. It's something I think most everyone looks forward to from the start of Monday.

Last night was unlike any other rhum-rhum night. There were more people in town, and apparently a nerd-fest was going on that we weren't aware of and they decided to throw their after-party at the same time and place as our weekly rendezvous, but we still managed to grab tables and seats for everyone. As we were gathered around, discussing beer, travel plans and telling random stories, someone came from behind me and tapped my shoulder. I swung around my stool to see the grey-haired, coat-wearing, old man that's often lingering about the bar leering at our large and strange group.

He asked me if I spoke French, to which I replied, "un peu." He asked if someone could translate for me, and Katia's ever-so-kind husband was (thankfully) sitting just next and offered to translate. I could make out most of what he was saying until he said the word thyroïde. It doesn't sound much like the English version, and not expecting this guy to be having a health-related discussion with me, I could not for the life of me figure out what he was telling me. Katia's husband (we'll call him MM for short) didn't immediately know the word in English either, so we asked around the table until someone threw out the word "thyroid."

"He's saying that it looks like you have a problem with your thyroid," said MM.

Uh, ok. I didn't know whether to be offended, thankful, skeptical or creeped out. So, I asked him why he was telling me this.

"Mais, pourquoi est-ce que vous dites ça?"

"Est-ce que vous avez souvent très froide ou très chaude?"

I tried to figure out how to answer this. Sure, I was often cold when it was cold and hot when it was hot, but isn't that normal? I'm rarely ever very hot when no one else is. In fact, I'm almost always cold. But, being a pretty small person, anemia is something that my doctors regularly checked me for, and that always explained my cold tendencies. So, I told him that wasn't particularly true.

"Mais, en fait non."

I was still perplexed, though. And starting to get angry. "The audacity!" I thought. "Uh, typical old French, wanting to tell you something about yourself that they somehow know better than you."

"Quelles sont les caractéristiques de cette condition," I demanded.

He started telling me that he could tell from the shape of my face, from the features of my face, from my voice and the way that my throat was shaped that I had something wrong with my thyroid. He suggested that I look into seeing a specialist about it. Then, he stepped back, put his hands up and bowed, as if to say "that's all I can tell you." And, then, I'm pretty sure he apologized for giving me this horrific news. I told him thanks, that it was nice of him to be concerned and he left the table.

The creepiest part of this whole incident is that my family does have a history of thyroid problems. But, how in the world could he have known? Part of me thinks this guy is a weirdo who hangs around bars diagnosing people because maybe he misses his former life as a doctor...or something. And, part of me thinks that he really and truly somehow knew something about my health from just looking at me. But how? Is that even possible? Either way, I'm making an appointment to see my doctor after we get back from Christmas vacation because as creepy as that incident was, I like the idea of being safe rather than sorry.


Candy said...

well, you know i am always cold too and the bloodwork on my thyroid came back fine...still have the little nodule on my thyroid but that should have nothing to do with regulating body temp. still, get it checked out just in case. that incident is so random though!

DiaryofWhy said...

So bizarre! Sometimes I think the French can be a little too "helpful," if you know what I mean. Good luck, and I'm sure you have nothing to worry about. :)

Corpus Christi Contemporary Dentistry said...

a few observations. He is no more creepy than people who "watch" you on your blog. I read it but don't know you. I like the vicarious participation in an adventure I can never have. Second, some people are very aware of their surroundings and other people. As a nutritionist, I am always making casual observations about the health or lack thereof, of people I meet and pass on the street. For him to actually break a social protocol and tell you what he observed is a compliment. He likes your persona enough to do that; and, he is probably right about the thyroid. It is under active. Google "underarm temperature test" and "thyroid" and do a little self test. :)

Texas Espresso said...

that is weird though I do think some "old-school" people can notice health nuance by the way you look. However, while I would check it out to be safe, I wouldn't worry overmuch. I find it is weird for Americans that in Europe strangers (or family, whatever) feel free to make more derogatory comments on your appearance, be it weight or hair or whatever. maybe we are just more sensitive about those things - who knows. its still a bit rude even if meant in a helpful way.

No worries but very random!

Josephine said...


The TSH test is the only reliable and accurate way to diagnose a thyroid problem.


Susu said...

I think it is a good idea to go see your trusted doc back home, but I wouldn't be too worried. If you're a bit slimmer/heavier/happier/more talkative/... some people will always comment. If you yourself are feelin' good, that's what counts;)

misplaced texan said...

Thanks everyone. I'm definitely going to have it checked out. I guess the thing that bothered me so much about the incident is the manner in which it was done. He could have stopped me on the way to the bathroom or pulled me aside to tell me instead of sharing it with the rest of my friends. He didn't know me from Eve, so how could he have known that I wasn't already diagnosed, that I wasn't already suffering with something, that I wasn't already self-conscious about it? I'm hoping he wouldn't have tried to verbally diagnose me with, say, diabetes if I was over-weight and eating a box of chocolates! In that sense, I took as being rude, but after getting over the initial confusion of it all, I remembered where I was and decided to brush it off as typical old French-ness.

RiverPoet said...

Kind of cool, actually. I wouldn't get too worked up about him or about the incident, but it's good that you're getting it checked out. Most of my issues have been diagnosed by doctors who don't specialize in what I'm suffering from. My chiropractor discovered by almost-at-the-point-of-surgery gallstones. Two weeks later I had an attack that landed me in the hospital and in surgery. Another chiropractor discovered that my thyroid didn't feel quite right. Despite normal thyroid bloodwork, an ultrasound showed a multinodular goiter that required treatment. And my dentist discovered that I was having a medication reaction by the observation of a certain kind of lesion in my mouth. The other doctors had referred me to a dermatologist. As soon as I was off the offending meds, voila! Cured.

So...don't discount him too lightly. He might have been a doctor....or a chiropractor :-)

Peace - D
(found you through BlogHer)

Anonymous said...

On some people thyroid is more prominent then on others.
You can check it for obvious lumps [aka nodules] doing AACE recommended thyroid neck check. Many people have thyroid nodules and perfect blood tests, but 90 % of nodules are benign and about 50% of the population over 50 has small nodules noticed only on ultrasound.

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