I thought it would be appropriate to FINALLY make a blog post documenting my journey with my thyroid issues. I speak on it a lot with my challengers, friends, family, etc. but never have actually written down the whole experience. No time like the present seeing as today marks the 7 year anniversary of when I got my thyroid removed at Roosevelt Hospital in NYC! Now, I am not a doctor this is just based off of MY experience so PLEASE always refer to your specialist with major questions. This is my story...
Thyroid disease is hereditary so shoutout to the Crowley family for passing along these AMAZING genes. HAHAHA! Seriously though, my father is one of five and EVERY single one of them has a thyroid issue and some are worse than others. Knowing that this was in the cards for me was to my advantage because I was able to notice some of the signs of my thyroid acting up in the early stages.
Maybe because I am a Gemini and we have "two-sides" to our personality my thyroid decided to go that route as well. In the first half of my journey my thyroid was OVER-active. You're probably thinking, that's great! You can eat whatever you want and never gain weight. Well, while there is some truth to that you're also missing the fact that your body doesn't hold in the nutrients like it should. I was CONSTANTLY having IBS issues, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, losing my hair, excessive sweating, etc. I was in college though so that sounds pretty typical right? Unfortunately, I battled these issues throughout most of college.
Scary thin despite all of the junk I ate and the booze I drank in college.
After graduating college my lifestyle slowed down a bit and my thyroid decided to take a 90 degree turn. Now we enter the hypothyroidism period AKA UNDER-active thyroid. What were my symptoms now? Well, lots of the same but instead of not being able to sleep I was lethargic ALL the time, I was gaining weight at a rapid pace, I was even more sensitive to the cold (I have Raynaud's Disease too), AND I gained a little friend AKA the Goiter. SOOOO GROSS! A goiter is basically when your thyroid gland enlarges. I had this bump, which was sensitive to the touch, on the side of my neck.
How I typically felt with hypothyroidism -- naps on naps on naps
So, after blood tests and sonograms, I decided to go to my dad's endocrinologist in the city. I wasn't getting any answers and needed a second opinion. I'm not a doctor but I KNOW my body and something wasn't right. Dr. Boxhill confirmed that I had major issues with my thyroid and was enthralled with the fact that I had a hyper and hypo-active thyroid. Lucky me, I had the golden ticket!
We discovered that I had cysts on my nodules and I was sent to Lenox Hill Hospital to try and drain them. Gross, I know. Know what else? It was PAINFUL! They were so thick that the needle actually bent. There was no draining those babies. While I didn't have any cancerous cells (they checked) I was told that this would be an issue I would have for the rest of my life. I was already on thyroid medication every day anyway so I didn't see the big deal in getting it removed. If I was going to have to take the medication each day anyway I might as well not have the stress of the problem getting worse. Plus, I had great health insurance at the time and didn't know what the future held for me in that area.
Here's the key to all of this -- Your thyroid practically controls everything in your body, namely your metabolism and brain functions. You can also not live without your thyroid BUT you can have it removed and take a medication (either synthroid or levothyroxine) every day to supplement for the loss. PS: Because I am inquisitive I asked my doctor how many days you can live without your thyroid. Answer: 23 days and then your body starts to shut down.
My surgery was scheduled for December 4, 2009 at Roosevelt Hospital. It ended up taking over three hours to complete and my surgeon removed my ENTIRE thyroid. Why? Because when he flipped over the underside it was completely full of cysts which they weren't able to see on a sonogram. There was no saving that bad boy. He was able to reattach the four calcium deposits with no issues which is very important especially for women who plan on having a child. I had to stay in the hospital overnight and was released at 9AM the next morning. I didn't have any pain and I actually didn't have to take any pain killers once I left the hospital. I should note that they did an EXCELLENT job with stitching me up to prevent major scarring. It is similar to plastic surgery in that they stitch you up from the inside to the outside. My scar was on my neck crease so it would look natural too. I had the topical stitches taken out a week later.
A few hours after my surgery.
I think most people hear the word of surgery and become frightened. Hello, I did get a major organ removed but it wasn't scary. Of course I was nervous the night before but everything afterwards was really quite easy. In fact, I even had to take my MBA finals the following week. Yeah, there was no getting out of those. Plus, I even went out to Long Beach to celebrate my best friend's birthday.
Rebounding! You can slightly see the butterfly tape over my scar underneath my scarf. Thank goodness scarves became the "it" accessory. I would be rocking them for awhile...
To prevent my scar from getting out of control I applied Vitamin E and aloe oil to it daily. We even bought a plant but that's totally not necessary, I just am a bit excessive sometimes. Also, since I spend so much time in the sun I still put zinc oxide sunscreen on it. I will credit my doting husband for reminding me on a constant basis to STILL do this. He also reminds me to take my pill every day.
I take 150 mcg 3x a week and 175 mcg 4x a week. That's my cocktail!
Today, you can barely even see it. I'm not going to tell you where it is either!
If you have any questions or want advice please don't hesitate to contact me. This is an issue that a lot more people than you think are going through too. My only request is that you do NOT use your thyroid as an excuse to not eat healthy or do 30-minutes a day of fitness. Having a thyroid issue is not a crutch to be unhealthy. But I'll save that topic for another time...