Sometimes You Can Find Better Doctors and Clinics on the Internet Than in Your Own Community

Some diseases have a small occurrence, and the expertise to treat that disease may not be in your local community or nearby city. While your local doctors tend to recommend specialists that they know, they may not always offer the best solutions.

That’s when you can use the Internet to reach beyond to help you find alternative options. Even though I live in San Diego, a community with great medical care and facilities, that’s what I did, and it made a huge difference.

After a bout with a kidney stone, my doctor thought I might have a disease called hyperparathyroidism. It’s when one or more of our four parathyroid glands develops a small tumor. (The four parathyroid glands are not related to the thyroid, just located nearby in the neck – hence the name.)

The disease can go undetected for years, because its symptoms are often only a slightly higher calcium level or mild fatigue. But, it can result in serious health issues over time, afflicting about one out of a hundred. It can lead to osteoporosis, heart irregularities, and can cause kidney stones, which is how it was discovered in my instance.

Garry Shandling, who just died from a massive heart attack, had remarked that he had this same parathyroid disease that had gone undiagnosed until recently. While it’s not been determined to be the cause of his death, the disease can lead to heart failure.

My doctor sent me to an endocrinologist, who confirmed the disease through blood tests and sent me to a local surgeon for the operation.

But when the surgeon ran his tests and was unable to determine which of the four parathyroid glands needed to be removed, he suggested waiting six months until it might become clearer, as the disease progressed. He told me it’s not a common operation, something most surgeons perform a few times a year. It’s about a 3-hour procedure that requires a 6-inch incision in the neck.

I decided to go onto the Internet to try to learn more about the disease: the causes, risks, and prognosis. The website www.parathyroid.com came up at the top of my search. It was a fact-filled site with more than a dozen pages explaining everything about the disease.

The site was created by a medical clinic, the Norman Parathyroid Center in Tampa, FL, and claimed to be able to cure the disease using a much simpler procedure than the one my doctors recommended.

The site seemed too good to believe. There were graphs, statistics and claims of a 99% success rate. There was even a video of the operation and a photo gallery of dozens of the infected glands. It claimed that they do about 10-15 of these operations every day with patients coming from as far away as Japan and Israel.

They made it clear that the typical advice to wait until the specific diseased gland could be determined, the advice I had received, was simply wrong.