Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thyroidectomy - One Year Later



Health Watch..,

It has been one year (September 9, 2014)  since my thyroidectomy.   I'm happy to say that I am almost fully recovered from the surgery.  In July my tests and physical examination revealed that my hormone levels are where they should be, and I'm down to my 2012 weight.  Physically, I feel much better, but I do experience tenderness where the incision was made, hair loss, and feel tired at times.

You must know I had mixed feelings about posting a follow up report.  But after Rhonda's encouragement, I decided that it would be a good idea to let you know about my recovery process.  It might be helpful to someone else going through the same problem.

Getting the dosage right:

It took the doctors about six months to get the dosage right.  The therapy started with the lowest dosage of 25mcg gradually went up to 135mcg.  The entire process was trial and error.  Somewhere between the 4th and 5th month post surgery, my doctor was able to determine that 75mcg of Levothyroxine was the correct dosage for me.   About a month after each change new blood tests were ordered to check the hormone levels.  I continued to have severe headaches, poor concentration, fatigue, dry skin, and hair loss.

Once my hormonal levels normalized, the side affects subsided, but still are not completely gone. I was so glad when I learned that I was losing weight.  Now I'm hopeful that I can get back to my 2009 weight.  It is absolutely remarkable how much better I feel.  The bloating is almost completely gone.  I think I'm months away from a full recovery.  Every morning, I take a little pill at least an hour before eating anything. The lump in my throat is gone, and I am relieved.



The scar:

Vanity is one of the deadly sins.  Pre-surgery I thought about the surgical scarring and was pre- occupied with how my neck would look.  I had concluded that I'd have to cover it up.  Truthfully, I can't stand for anything to rest on it. Close necklines, scarves, and jewelry all irritate it.  So it is always exposed and I have long forgotten about hiding it.  Now, I see it as a battle scar, victory over a condition the used to interrupt  my sleep time and impeded my ability to breathe and swallow.  Vanity.. Poof be gone.  Now this brings me to my second point of vanity:  losing my hair. I'll just have to buy some!

Getting older doesn't mean you'll die tomorrow:

With every passing year, I notice changes in my body and how I respond to food and increased activities.  My allergies are more severe.  The arthritis pain is more noticeable.  Night driving is more challenging.  And the will to stay up all hours of the night sewing is gone.  These new indicators may not be associated with thyroid disease.  I'm just getting older.  And that's all right too.

What's most important is the ability to stay on top of things.   Eating healthy and exercising is key. I must have routine check-ups and report any abnormalities to the doctors.    I'm just entered into a new phase of life and am looking forward to the future.

Be dedicated to wellness:

It's your life, your body, your health.  If you feel something is wrong, get professional help to diagnose the problem.  My journey started with dreams of me drowning in Lake Michigan and of someone sitting on my chest choking me.  Then I started coughing and choking on food and water.


Thyroid disease is hard to diagnose.  Many of the symptoms are also symptoms of other health issues.  For three years, my primary doctor could not figure it out.  I was tested for all types of breathing disorders.  The blood test showed "in the range" of normal for everything.  He concluded that I was depressed and needed psychological therapy of some sort.  It wasn't until I got a new doctor (Dr. Clay), who almost immediately knew what was wrong after I explained the symptoms and the tests that I had already gone through.  She actually touched my neck and throat during the examination process.  I was immediately scheduled for ultra-sound and biopsy tests.  For two years I underwent these tests to monitor the growth of the goiter.  After it doubled in size, we decided to try the radiation treatment.  It stopped growing on one side, but continued to grow on the other.  I wasn't getting the relief I had hoped for.  Dr. Sehti sent me to Dr. Friedman at Northwestern Hospital.  Dr. Friedman recommended surgery as soon as possible. 

My journey to wellness took about six years!  That's a long time.  Three years to discover the issue, five minutes to diagnose, three years to monitor and assess.  Finally the removal of the goiter.  It is so important to stay on top of your health issues.  Paying attention to your body is not a crime.  It may help save your life.  Who knows your health better than you. 

This concludes my update on my health watch.  I hope everyone is happy and well.  And if there are any questions about my experience, do not hesitate to ask.  You may post a comment or send a personal email.

Thank you and be well,
Cennetta

51 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing, Cenetta. I was diagnosed with Grave's Disease about a year ago, so I'm very familiar with a lot of these symptoms. (Isn't it strange how both a hyper- and hypo- thyroid condition can have similar symptoms?) The crazy thing is that I went to my primary care doctor convinced that I had a wheat allergy (I seemed to notice the "lump" in my throat more when eating bread/carb-y foods) and had a lot of digestion issues that accompanied my condition--including vomiting in the morning, which felt like morning sickness and had me taking a few home pregnancy tests. We're still trying to get my medication dialed in, so my weight has been fluctuating a lot this past year.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. It's takes a while for the doctor to get the dosage right. And after awhile, you may need another adjustment. Take care of yourself.

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  2. Thank you so much for your frankness! Aging and illness is not something that we as a nation discuss, but hopefully we baby boomers can change that. You're right, life and health are important. Vanity is not.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Melodye. Aging isn't attractive or appreciated. But people are living longer and the quality of life is approving with advancements in medicine and preventive care.

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  3. Cennetta, thanks so much for the update and the call to action. The need to care for ourselves as we become more mature has never been a truer statement. We must take responsibility and get regular check ups. Your experience has enlightened me and drives me to also be more diligent and attentive to my own "little" symptoms that may, or hopefully may not, be an indicator of something more. It doesn't hurt to check it out with a healthcare professional.

    I'm glad you have come to grips with the scar issue, it is not the worst thing to have to deal with, and hardly visible anyway. The hair issue may give you some fun options for experimenting with new style and looks, without putting stress on your own hair. I know first hand the depression experienced with the loss of my hair...since last year a mishap at the hair salon caused most of mine to fall out, not health issues, just plain old ignorance.

    You take care of yourself.

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    1. Thanks, Andrea. I'm glad this post is helpful. The scar, not an issue. The hair situation is becoming less of an issue. I just thought about another conversation that I had with Rhonda, pre-surgery. I told her, "My hair is going to fall out." She said, "At least you will be alive!" It makes me laugh at the thought of it. Thanks again and I'll give you a call tomorrow.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. Glad to hear that you're almost fully recovered from surgery. I too have an issue with my thyroid and take medication for it. My goal is to eat healthy, exercise and see my doctor on a regular basis.

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    1. Excellent strategy Elle3270. Take care of yourself and thank you for commenting. We don't know how many people are struggling with symptoms related to thyroid disease and do not know how to seek help or explain their problem. This post is to help and to let people know they are not alone and that there are solutions available.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing!

    When I turned 30 I decided to get the ParaGard IUD. I spent over a year with so many health issues that had not existed before. I was told by several doctors (even my VERY trusted gyno) that it "couldn't" be the IUD. Well I finally got that thing removed and *poof* all of those issues vanished within a few months.

    A few years ago a friend had just delivered a healthy baby boy. She went back to the hospital twice because she knew something was 'off'. They dismissed her concerns as a "new mother". Telling her she'll be fine. That woman died at 33 years old of heart failure. She knew that something was wrong with her and yet no one took her concerns seriously.

    As women we have to be EXTRA vigilant! You may not know the full medical reasoning and terminology but you know YOUR OWN body better than anyone else! I'm so glad that you persisted and are making a great recovery!

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    1. SewCraftyChemist I am so sorry to hear about your friends situation, and I'm glad you were persistent with uncovering your own health issue. We do have to be vigilant. Thank you for your comments.

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  6. I'm glad you are feeling better and wish you further recovery. I look forward to reading about your adventures on your new stage in life.

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    1. Thank you, badmomgoodmom. I will be posting some reviews soon. Retirement hasn't quite settled in my brain yet. Tee Hee. I'm a workaholic and cannot stand to be idol. But I will continue to sew and share.

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  7. Thanks you for posting this. I have nearly all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism but can't get my doctors to listen. They attribute these symptoms to other things like menopausal, anxiety, old age, weight related, etc. I will be making an appointment soon with an Endocrinologist.

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    1. Good for you Robin. The first doctor thought I was a mental case. My goiter was not pronounced. I had to tint my head back before you could slightly see it. The cyst was growing inward pushing my wind pike to the right. You are right to check it out.

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  8. Best Wishes for many, many more healthy years to come. Thank you for sharing your story.
    Bonnie @ www.sewplus.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie. Your thoughts are well appreciated.

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  9. so glad to hear you are feeling better and have things figured out. I always am happy to see a new post from you, as you choose interesting and lovely patterns and great fabrics. Keep on sewing and enjoy feeling better. best wishes to you.

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    1. Aww.., Thank you, Beth (SunnyGal Studio). I'm relieved and always counting my blessings. I hope to post some sewing projects soon.

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  10. Cennetta - Thanks so much for sharing. I think so much of the time we gals know something is wrong but think it's all in our heads or just don't have time to deal with it. I'm so glad you're finding a road to health. My own health issues may only be in my head, but I think are related to thyroid (my sister has hashimoto's, so it's not out of the question). Your post gives me courage to seek out help... suzanne.mcdonald.wordpress.com

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    1. Glad to help, Suzanne Robbins McDonald. We must be courageous for ourselves and our families. I read an article in O Magazine about a women who had some type of intestinal cancer. The doctor kept running tests, but couldn't anything. The women said that a voice (God) kept telling her look deeper. And finally the doctor found the problem. Her persistence help save her life. Thank you for sharing your story too.

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  11. That is so much to go through both physically and emotionally. I sincerely hope you are feeling well so near full recovery. I think you have been incredibly self aware and I'm so glad you persisted while working with the first doctor.

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  12. Such good news from you! I think you have done a wonderful service to someone out there who is wondering WTH? about her symptoms. Wishing you continued recovery and good health.

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  13. So glad to know you are feeling better and sending you continued recovery hugs. I am sure your new stage in life will bring more Awesomeness !!

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  14. Thanks for sharing cousin. Your story sounds a lot like mine. My journey began in 2003. It took 5 years to diagnose my Graves' disease. 4 endocrinologists, 5+ years of Ultrasounds, MRIs, CT scans, EKGs, uptake scans, etc., 12 years of lab draws, anti-thyroids and thyroid replacement hormones, 1 dose of radioactive Iodine and 1 year of daily headaches. I have been euthyroid on 88 mcg Synthroid for about 3 years now. Feeling pretty good these days with the exception of occasional memory loss/brain fog 😬. I thank God for the peace of mind that I do have and the strength to endure. Love you 😊

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    1. Love you too, Nai. I'm glad things are under control. God's continued blessings on you and your family.

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  15. Dear Beautiful Cennetta,

    Rhonda was right, and you were wise to share your testimony with your blog's readers.

    As you know because I've shared with you before, my thyroid journey began in 2004, but I was not diagnosed until 2006 when we began going through a living hell in our ministry overseas. Stress can bring about thyroid issues, plus, when it's hereditary, the risks go even higher.

    My thyroid was dying, and during the physical part of a cancer screening in 2004, the nurse practitioner stood behind me, felt my throat/neck and asked me how long my thyroid had been swollen. What's a thyroid? It's swollen? That was basically my response. To whom was I sent? An ENT. He scoped my THROAT but not a thing was asked or said about the thyroid.

    Two years and the living hell of stress went by until I was back in the ENT's office when my thyroid was "swollen" again during my annual cancer screening. During a tender moment, a different physician this time asked, "Is everything OK?" I dissolved. "Tell me what's going on," she asked and I lit into the list that you included in your post. The lightbulb went on and she sent me to the endocrinologist.

    Fast forward from 112 mcg to 125 mcg to 150 mcg for the past year+. My goiter has definitely shrunk and several of the symptoms lessened greatly. However, like you, I have become an informed patient. Just because I have a "dead" thyroid didn't mean I have to just take any medicine I was told to take.

    Now I know that many GYNs and endocrinologist's professional opinions are that we hypothyroid sufferers are gluten intolerant, so I have definitely made some changes.

    Now I know about the power of my thyroid after reading the Doctors Shames and Shames' book, "Thyroid Power." (GET IT! READ IT! SHARE IT!) It's horrifying to learn that millions of people suffer from thyroid issues and have no clue. They just think they're losing their minds. If they don't get the help they need and soon, they likely will!

    Also get and read Dr. Pierre Cloutier's book "Optimal Physiology for Life." As a result of this book, I began preparing low-and-slow-cooked meats, eating more fruits and vegetables in their raw state, cut out the refined flour foods and rice and potatoes and dairy except grass-fed cow's butter. I dropped nearly 20 pounds without taking so much as a walk. I also try not to eat after 6 p.m. and it's been amazing. That book helped me so much!

    I'm so very grateful that you are a year on the other side of this. Thank you for your transparency. I'm sorry you had to suffer as you did, but for whatever reason, God allowed you to go through this valley where He is restoring your soul. We serve a great, big and wonderful Healer and I'm so glad to know Him.

    You are so lovely.

    *hugs* to you and DD,
    Kelley~
    Letters Unfolded (this is my new blog, dear)

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    1. Thanks, Kelley, for sharing your journey to better health. I will pick up the books that you recommended. It is such a small world. So many of us suffer from similar illnesses. Thank you again and take care of yourself.

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  16. Thank you so much for this. I can sympathize as I have been on a ten year journey with my own issues, finally helped with a specialist and different diagnosis. He said I had been misdiagnosed all that time and I finally got relief. It's not a cure all but has helped me tremendously. I know how discouraging it can be to feel so bad and know in your gut they are just not getting it right. Then there's treatment with medications that aren't correct and have horrible side effects. I could tell you some horror stories about that!

    I really appreciate your frankness. I see so many bloggers putting only the perfect foot forward on their blogs to the point of even not allowing opposing comment. It is refreshing and heartwarming to see honest and forthright discussion. I am sure you have helped me by telling your story. I wish you the best of healthy have one thing left to say: You look wonderful, beautiful and healthy! I always find it hard to believe your children are the age they are because to me you are just a young, hot babe! thank you for your post!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Bunny. Sometimes knowing the problem is half the battle. I know for me, finally being diagnosed put my mind partially at ease. I felt like I could move on to finding a solution. God bless and take care of yourself.

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    1. Great post Cennetta, thanks for your honesty.

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    2. Oh Robin, I was going to comment on your initial note. I do appreciate your thoughts on this. I was becoming a little depressed over the situation. I thought no one was ever going to listen to me. Certainly depression should not be taken lightly, and most of us have experienced it on some level, whether it is related to work, family, or within ourselves. Thank you for commenting. Take care and God bless.

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    3. thanks Cennetta, the reason I deleted it was because I was afraid it came off as all me-me-me, when I was really just glad to read about your journey and your situation!

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  18. You are a beautiful spirit and I feel so fortunate to be able to call you a friend :)

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    1. You made me smile again. :-) Love you too.

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  19. Cennetta, I'm in awe...you were suffering and still managed to out create most of us! So pleased for you that you are feeling better and starting the road back to full health.

    After reading all the comments I can only say how grateful I am for my doctor who noticed my thyroid test results immediately and put me on medication. I can truly say that at 66 after that (and having my gall bladder removed) I feel better than I did at 20! A little slower, harder to see at night, but happily feeling full of life and ready for the next 40 or so years. I wish the same for you!!

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    1. Marilyn, Thanks for commenting on this topic. By nature, I am a workaholic. Often, when I am not feeling well, I will busy myself to keep from focusing on my issue. Plus, I love to sew. It is my escape, my all time favorite hobby.

      I'm glad you are feeling well. Thanks again, Marilyn.

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  20. Glad to hear that you are feeling better. The scar gets better. My dd had a hemi thyroidectomy in 9th grade. She has Hashimoto's thyroiditis and she takes medication too. Being in highschool when she had her surgery she had to deal with really obnoxious questions from fellow students and she came up with lots of strange, creative answers. She soon gave up the turtlenecks as well and just relied on her creative answers. Alien abduction probably won't work for you, but hopefully adults are a little less obnoxious.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy K. I like "alien abduction". I will give it a try. God bless you and your dd.

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  21. I'm so glad you are healthy and above all, you were still sewing and creating beautiful garments. I too think it important to live a well. I promised myself and with Gods help that I will continue to take care of myself health wise and with HIS grace I will continue to do so. You have such a lovely spirit and I real enjoy stopping by your blog.

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    1. Amen, Sabrina. Thank you so much for commenting. God is great and powerful. Take care of yourself.

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  22. Thank you for posting this. It is great information and I am happy that you are doing so well after one year.

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    1. Thank you so much Linda. It's good to feel better and to rest better.

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  23. Everyone thank you so much for an engaging conversation. I will post replies to the most recent comments later today. Thank you again. Cennetta

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  24. I'm so glad that you are doing better and so agree with all of the points you raised about monitoring your health and learning to accept the fact that we're getting older. Older is not a death sentence and something that should be celebrated. I'm so thrilled that you are better and still around to show me/us some of those amazing garments that you sew so well!

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    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I hope to be around a very long time if God's willing. As a matter of fact, I had planned to sew a little today but needed to cook a wholesome meal today. Maybe tomorrow. ;-)

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  25. Thank you for sharing your journey. It is amazing to me how when doctors can't figure out what is wrong, they say the patient has psychological issues. I have heard this so many times. Well, you found a doctor who had the know-how to help you. I am so glad you are feeling better now!

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    1. Tomasa, thank you for commenting on this topic. I've heard so many talk about how difficult it is to diagnose some illness. In particular, thyroid disease has so many similar symptoms as other illnesses. I just so happy that there was no cancer and I did not suffocate before the doctors determined what was wrong.

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