Tag Archives: endocrinology

Do You Get Colder Than Other People?

Or warmer, as the case may be.
Many years ago I went for a consultation with an endocrinologist, and had to answer a very lengthy questionnaire, which he read to me. This was one of the questions. I answered, “I don’t know. How cold do other people get?”
I wasn’t even trying to be a smartass, although that’s how he took it. I just thought it was a dumb question. He looked at me, sighed, and said, “If most people want the window to be open, do you want the window to be closed?” That made sense to me, and the answer at the time was no. There wasn’t any difference, as far as I could tell, between my sense of temperature and that of other people. But that has changed.
At the time, what they were looking for was a disorder of the pituitary gland or maybe a pituitary tumor, because somehow the pituitary plays a role in how you sense temperature.
But now, yes, I get colder than other people. When they want the window open, I want it closed. When they want the air conditioning on, I want it off. And it causes a problem at work, because when I’m comfortable, other people are hot. What to do?
It turns out the owners have a rule about where thermostats have to be set. 74 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the summer; 68 degrees plus or minus 2 degrees in the winter. Those temps in the winter will probably kill me, but…I’ll cross that bridge.
I already wear sweaters and jackets in my office, and always in restaurants and stores.
I will live with it.
How about you? Do you get colder (or warmer) than other people?



Which might or might not be a hormone issue. 

Many years ago I saw an endocrinologist, who went through a tedious questionnaire with me that lasted at least an hour.  One of the questions was “Do you get colder or hotter than other people?”  I said, “I don’t know.  How cold or hot do other people get?”  He gave me this scathing look which basically meant, “Don’t be a smartass”.  I said “Seriously.  I don’t know how to answer that question.”  So he said, “If you’re in a room with other people and they’re comfortable, do you want to open a window?  Or if the window is open, do you want to close it?”  Ah.  That made more sense.  The answer was “no”. 

Too bad he isn’t around to ask me that question today. 

Over Christmas, I shared a suite on the beach with my friend Brenda, and at the last minute I remembered why this wasn’t going to be easy.  She’s always too hot, and I’m always too cold.  But we did what friends do.  We compromised.  During the day, she put up with me being warm.  At night I let it be as cold as she wanted.  But at some point, she said to me, “It seems to me that you are very sensitive to temperature.”  Hmmm. 

These days, there is no question about it.  I get colder than other people. 

The reason I was seeing an endocrinologist (Warning!  Anatomical references coming up!) was to try to figure out why I didn’t have periods very often.  Sometimes I would have one three months apart, and sometimes I wouldn’t have one for three years.  So at the conclusion of the tedious questionnaire, he said, well I can’t see what it could be, but there is one possibility…however, this is such a rare condition I doubt seriously that that could be it.  But we can do this blood test, which costs $80, and we have to send it off (to Johns Hopkins or somewhere like that) and we won’t know the results for a while.  The test was relatively new, and the doctors who developed it won the Nobel Prize for medicine just the year before.  What the hell, I said. 

Imagine his surprise–and mine–when it turned out I was one of those rare cases.  I had a deficiency of something called luteinizing hormone. This little hormone, which is produced by the pituitary gland has only one function.  When the time is right, it causes the egg to be released from the ovary.  That’s it.  And if the egg isn’t released, no period ensues. 

Suddenly, he was very interested in me.  I spent five days (!) in the hospital undergoing various tests for every other hormone known to science, and nothing else turned up.  They were of course particularly concerned about whether or not my pituitary gland was functioning properly, or whether or not I had a pituitary tumor.  The end result was, no one knows.  Sometimes my pituitary gland produced enough luteinizing hormone.  Sometimes it didn’t. 

At that time, I went into a serious I Hate Doctors mode.  Because for 12 years, they had been “treating” me when they didn’t know what the hell they were doing.  As time passed, I backed off that.  They were doing what they thought was right.  Their knowledge was limited, but that isn’t really their fault.  You can’t know what you have no way of knowing.  But at this time, I think knowledge about hormones is still in a pitiful state.  It’s like the last frontier.

So I thought of all this last night as I was trying to go to sleep and my feet were like frozen blocks of ice.  Eventually they got warm, and therefore, so did the rest of me.  I don’t know if that’s a perception issue, or if it’s really true that when your feet are cold, so is the rest of your body.  But I was like, where is the endocrinologist when you need him?