Thursday, November 5, 2015

Me and my stupid thyroid

Ok- first let me say something that you probably already know- I am not a doctor and nothing here should be taken as medical advice.

A lot has happened since my last post. I had a total thyroidectomy two months ago and I'm about to start radioactive iodine therapy tomorrow. Let's step back.

A little over two years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which caused hypothyroidism. It was discovered mostly by accident. I had a goiter that I mistook for an allergy. When the allergist wouldn't run tests (because my throat felt closed while I was in the office) I went to my primary care doctor who ran a bunch of blood tests. She called and left a message the next day that said "Call me back so we can come up with a plan". Naturally, it was a few hours before we were able to connect and I spent that morning worrying about what it could be. She told me that my TSH levels (take a look at that link up there) were off. The normal range is 0.30-4.50 and mine was 70.0. (that's higher...) I was put on levothyroxine and referred to an endocrinologist.

She asked if I had been feeling tired, if I had trouble maintaining my weight, if my skin was dryer, my hair was thinner (it also wouldn't curl!), and if I had been cold all of the time.  Yes to everything. Then she said "Why didn't you come in for that?!"  I didn't really have a good reason... a lot of the symptoms mimicked over training so I thought they had been marathon related. I thought maybe the rest were just going to happen as I got older. Also, I had no idea that all of these things were connected.

Fast forward through some ultrasounds, biopsies, and genetic testing that came back all clear for a while. This past June, I had a routine ultrasound that showed a new nodule that had signs of calcification. Another biopsy. A week later, I was told that the cells were suspicious for cancer and the next step was a total thyroidectomy.

I had my surgery with Dr. Gregory Randolph of Mass Eye and Ear on September 8th. I chose Dr. Randolph because he monitors the laryngeal nerve during surgery to minimize/eliminate vocal damage during surgery. Surgery went really well. Anesthesia and I are not super friendly, so the day of was pretty rough, but after that, recovery wasn't too bad. I was back to teaching Zumba 11 days after my surgery! Physically, I felt great! Vocal recovery took a little longer, but I was able to perform on October 19th.

At my post op appointments, it was confirmed that we had been dealing with stage one papillary thyroid carcinoma. My endocrinologist recommended radioactive iodine therapy to help combat recurrence (because it can happen even though the damn thyroid is gone) and now we're pretty much caught up.

I think I'll stop here so this post doesn't get too long. Stay tuned for my exciting adventures in the low iodine diet, nosy people and their inappropriate questions, and what's bound to be an odd few days of isolation while I'm radioactive.