Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Breathing Dilemma - Thyroid


About 27 million people have some kind of thyroid disease. And over half are undiagnosed. I was recently diagnosed with a form of hypothyroid disease called a goiter. It wasn't until I changed doctors that I received the proper diagnosis. Why am I blogging about thyroid disease? Because it may help someone avoid the trouble and frustrating misdiagnoses that I encountered over the past three years.

One thing I pride myself in is keeping a watch on my health. My stance is to have routine check-ups and report anything unusual to my doctor. My "painful" journey started shortly after I was diagnosed with hypertension, four years ago. Initially, I struggled with the fact that I would need to take medication on a daily basis to help control it. The side effects were wearing me out. Needless to say, my young doctor struggled with finding a drug that would work for me.

During the course of finding a medicine that would regulate my blood pressure, I started having breathing issues while sleeping. It was an effort to swallow at times. My throat felt like there was some type of blockage at the base of my neck. The doctor ordered breathing and sleep apnea tests. Both rendered negative results.

It was becoming increasingly more difficult to sleep. I would have dreams of drowning or someone choking me. I awoke from the nightmares coughing sometimes with a rapid heartbeat. The coughing fits were so intense that it would wake my daughter- and we all know how hard it is to disturb a teen from sleeping. There were a variety of other symptoms: thinning hair, fatigue, weight fluctuation, dry eyes, and more. All of which I thought were side effects of the medication or the Big "M". Throughout the process of trying to diagnose the problem, my doctor insisted that I was having panic attacks and needed to see a therapist. I insisted that there was something physically wrong. Of course, the two differences of opinion hinder progress to resolve the real problem. I tried another doctor. She advised me to continue with Dr. D****. I tried to work with him again. So for about a year and half, I loathed going to the doctor and my blood pressure was not consistent. I wasn't sleeping well and I was nervous about how the many different drugs were prescribed.

One of the ten medications prescribed to me was nifedipine (calcium blocker). It seemed to control my blood pressure the best. August 2009, he switched the medication again. This stabilized my blood pressure, but the coughing and breathing issues were getting worse. By this time I was practically sleeping in a seating position. Finally, in February I noticed my throat enlarged. I asked my DD to take a look; she agreed. Then she and I discussed thyroid. At my next doctor visit, I told the doctor what I thought about my condition. He ordered a thyroid blood test; he also announced his leaving the HMO (I was glad).

My new doctor (Dr. J. Clay) is a dream come true. I saw her two weeks after my last appointment with Dr. D****. We talked about medication and thyroid. She said that blood tests are not conclusive and immediately stood up and walk towards me to examine my neck and throat area. My eyes filled with water. I thought maybe she would be able to help me. There was hope. Thank you, God. I had been praying for some understanding, some guidance, some help. After the examination she replied, "your thyroid is enlarged, the left side is larger than the right. I’m ordering an ultrasound, referring you to the endocrinologist, and making some adjustments in your medication. Dr. D**** had prescribed a dosage of nifedipine that was twice the amount needed. She reviewed my prescription history and decided to change the blood pressure med to Benicar 20mg. This was my turning point. Since that appointment, I've had a CAT scan and biopsy. The final diagnose is a benign goiter, predominantly on the left side of my thyroid. Relief...

Everyone, please by no means allow anyone to control what you think and feel about your body. Research and ask for a second opinion. It's worth it.

My friends and I tease about having a doctor, lawyer, dentist, electrician, etc. in the family, in hopes of securing help in those critical areas of life where advice is of upmost importance. Most people keep personal troubles and health issues a secret until it's too late. It is so important to share life changing issues as it may help someone overcome or give hope that there is an answer or at least some form of understanding.

Here is a helpful link to answer questions about thyroid disease:
Thyroid 101 Basics
There are several quizzes that will help you understand the disease and help with finding an appropriate doctor.

Here's to good health!
C

29 comments:

knitmachinequeen (KMQ) said...

Excellent information. I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My was caused by radiation treatment for cancer. What I find really amazing is that I too wake up with coughing fits that I think will result in a lung being coughed up. I thought is way my acid reflux coming back. Maybe I never had acid reflux and it was just my thyroid. Will mention to my doctor on my next visit. Glad I read your post. Hope you feel better soon.

Trudy Callan said...

I am so sorry for all that you have been through, but happy for you that you finally got a proper diagnoses. Thank you for sharing your story in the event that it may help someone else. I will go to the link to learn more.

Lisette M said...

Thank you for sharing, and I'm glad that you have been properly diagnosed so you can feel better again.

Uta said...

I hope you get well soon! Also, thank you for alerting readers to an often overlooked condition. I had a severely overactive thyroid at ages 17/18. It started with extreme mood swings, and you know what everyone thinks - teenagers... I had no idea what was wrong until my thyroid enlarged visibly and I was diagnosed.

Joanne said...

God Bless you! And you are right- a second opinion is an ESSENTIAL!

Gorgeous Things said...

Amen to research and second opinions! Doctors are human, too, and one can miss symptoms that another will see. I'm so glad you saw the right doctor for you!

Sheila said...

Thanks for sharing and glad that you have finally found a great Doctor.

AFRICANFAB said...

Thank you for his post. As someone who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 6 years ago, I am a true believer in "information" and the best medicine. NO ONE shouldevery limit their ability to heal due to lack of information or the fear of informaiton. you're the best. BTW I have been cancer free for five years!!

Nancy said...

I so hope you are feeling better soon. Thank you for sharing your experience; you are absolutely right in saying that we need to take charge of managing our own health. No one knows our bodies as well as we do--we just have to persist until we get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Antoinette said...

I am so glad your treatment is finally on the right track! It's important to follow out instinct, even when someone in the medical establishment diagnoses with so much conviction. *hugs*

Nancy K said...

Thank God that you finally got a doctor who listened to you and took a more holistic approach to your health. Way too often women get told it's all in their heads. Here's to feeling better soon, but just a real diagnosis must be a terrific relief.

Toby Wollin said...

I think I read someplace that thyroid issues are the most misdiagnosed problem for American women. When I started having bleeding issues, tiredness, lack of sleep, etc. and went to my practitioner and actually said, "Let's look at my thyroid because my mom had hypothyroidism," she actually said, "Nope; you're just going into menopause." I was really insistent to have the tests done and when they came back with the TSH through the roof, she acted as if this was this huge surprise to her. I worked with a lady who ended up on multiple psychotropic drugs because of her depression, lack of energy, feelings of helplessness and so on. I told her to ask her psychiatist if it might be her thyroid - ding! She was off those psych meds within two weeks and started on thyroid replacement hormones. Pay attention to the thyroid - it is the master gland and if it gets messed up, it messes everything else up.

Cennetta said...

Thank you! So many wonderful comments on this post. I'm glad this information is helpful. To the cancer free, ladies! All Praises to God! To everyone, may God continue to bless you with good health.
C

alethia said...

I knew something was wrong, Your sewing mojo was unsually slow. Thank God that doctor left and finally the new doctor got you on the right tract. I totally agree with you, sharing your experience is important, it could make a big difference in another person's life. Keep the faith and remember God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

Angela said...

What a frustrating experience... I'm glad you were able to find the perfect doctor! Hmm.. I need to share this post with my mother-in-law... she seems have similar symptoms, but has a known thyroid issue.

Victoria said...

Thanks sooooo much for sharing your story. I'm happy you finally received the treatment you deserved! I was just telling my sister today that you really can't rely on doctors to give you all the health info you need. You have to inform yourself and push the issue when you don't get the proper care you deserve. Way to go with that!

Carol said...

One of my staff (a young woman of 28 at the time) had this same condition. She had surgery and had the goiter removed and since then she has been healthier and fitter than ever before. I'm glad you've found a doctor that works for you. As I approach 50 I realise the importance of finding a doctor I can connect with.

Faye Lewis said...

Thank you for sharing! Hope you are getting better and better.

Kelley said...

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. I'm soooo glad you're well on your way to feeling well! Thank God!!!

Ingrid said...

I have recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and was wrongly diagnosed by (to me) an incompetent and thoroughly uninterested doctor. Thankfully when I went to my old doctor and she did a whole gamut of tests on me (as I am now in my 40s) and picked it up. I had been feeling exhausted for a long time. I am definitely in the "get a second opinion" camp, after all doctors are just human. I'm glad for you that you finally found a good doctor!

Summerset said...

Thank you for posting this! Many women are unaware that all of this could be related to the thyroid. Good for you for getting the proper diagnosis. I hope you're feeling healthy and stay that way!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

I am glad you finally got a proper diagnosis and are getting some relief! It is so frustrating when doctors won't listen to you about your own body which, after all, you know best. When I went to one doctor for my chronic low back pain he said, "But you're not fat" and told me to take a laxative. I will never see *him* again.

RiAnge Creations. Ltd. said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I shared this with a friend of mine who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. After, poking, prodding and cajoling and getting downright angry, I convinced her to get a second opinion. Now she's glad she did. In a few weeks we (yes, we. I promised her I'd be there every step of the way) will be going through treatment. Your post is positively uplifting. Again, thank you for sharing this vitally, important information.
Angela

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post.... I have the same problem and I will be checking this out immediately. Thanks again. I thought I was going crazy.

CarlaF-in Atlanta said...

Hmmm. Thank you for the post. I've been coughing at night also. I take meds for hyperthyroidism but I think I need to have my levels checked again.

I'm glad you finally got the proper treatment :)

Bunny said...

This is a fabulous post! Thank you for your courage in posting about your health issues. Too often we keep these things hidden and do ourselves an injustice. I am so glad you have gotten to the bottom of this. I know you are on your way to better health and I wish you the best...Bunny

sdBev said...

I'm so glad you got a doctor that listens to you. My frequent experience contradicts the statement "Most people keep personal troubles and health issues a secret until it's too late". My experience is more like your's either the physician makes a judgement and refuses to reconsider or they can't tell anything is wrong until it's major. I've had cancer, my gall blader removed and now reflux. They couldn't diagnose it with my symptoms or tests. When I ended up at the emgerncy room I was asked "didn't you talk to your doctor". Well yeah, but he couldn't find it.

Cennetta said...

Thanks again. I'm glad this information is helpful. Have a great weekend ladies.
C

Manchild said...

Hello Cennetta,

As a sign of respect, I tip my hat to you for having the courage and the strength to share this informative post. You have no idea just how many precious lives your compassionate words have saved and will save.

Much love and respect to you,

Manchild

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