The one where I lose my thyroid

Let me start at the beginning. Way back in April when I had my physical I told my doctor all about how I had chronic sinus infections and I was just getting so tired of them. She decided to go ahead and put me on antibiotic for a month and if that didn’t clear them up she’d refer me to an ENT. A month later when I went in for my follow up I got my referral and in mid June went to see an ENT. The ENT took a few samples of snot, checked my throat, cleaned out my ears, and prescribed me another month of antibiotics. He said if I came back and my sinuses were still full after the month they’d do a CT scan.

On July 13th I went in and said I still felt stuffed up so he went ahead with the CT scan. To my surprise it showed my inflamation of any kind. My sinuses were small but clean. I went back to the exam room and he started telling me that it could just be migraines. Certain types of migraines can mimic sinus infections. I told him that it didn’t make sense because I always feel like I have a sore throat too. He started examining my throat, feeling down the sides until he hit right above my collar bone. He kept having me swallow over and over again. Then he brought in another doctor from the practice to come in and feel my throat while I swallowed. They both agreed that they felt a dominate nodule on the right side of my thyroid, possibly two, and I should go in for an ultrasound and biopsy as soon as possible. He explained it could be nothing, but it could also be thyroid cancer so they wanted to get it checked out.

On July 16th (my 8th wedding anniversary) I went in for my ultrasound and biopsy. No one told me what to expect from it, so I went in thinking it would be no big deal. The ultrasound lasted about 20 minutes and the tech kept repeating that he was surprised I don’t have problems swallowing its so large. He brought a couple of photos over to the radiologist who decided it did need to be biopsied. So they came in and prepped my neck. The radiologist came in and explained he would be taking 10 samples of fluid and tissue, and that it would be uncomfortable. I was told to lay very still. Holy smokes was it painful. They numbed the surface but they couldn’t numb deep down or it was affect the results when sent to pathology. Afterwords they said I’d hear back in a couple of days and sent me on my way.

Here is a picture of my neck post biopsy. It was swollen for well over a week and I could feel it every time I swallowed.

It took an entire agonizing week to hear back on the results. We were actually waiting to hike Timpanogos cave when the doctor called. The news was good though. They didn’t find any cancer cells. He said I would need to have it biopsied every 6 months or if it changes size. He then told me that he was still waiting on the measurements of the size of the nodule (there was only one by the way) and when he got them he’d call if there was a problem, if not I shouldn’t expect to hear from him. Yay! I was so relieved! During this same time I was going through all the tests to see if my gallbladder was failing so it was hard having the thyroid issues at the same time.

Fast forward two weeks. I was on my way to the surgeons office for my pre-op appointment and to set a date for my gallbladder surgery when I get a call from my ENT. He says he has the measurements from my ultrasound of the nodule and apologized for taking so long to get back to me. I guess they kept sending him the biopsy results when he’d ask for the ultrasound results and they finally straightened it out. He took the time to read off the measurements and I was thinking “oh great they are going to want me to biopsy it more often, how crappy” and then said “So with how large it is we can’t get a biopsy to the center of the nodule. This means it could still be cancerous and I would recommend at this point we take the right side of the thyroid out”. Wow! I said Okay and asked for the details on the surgery and how the recovery was. He talked to me for a good 20 minutes and then scheduled me to come in the next day to meet with another doctor who would be doing the surgery (the doctor I had been seeing is a PA).

I was in shock for sure and went up to my surgeons office and scheduled my gallbladder surgery. Then went home and told John about what the doctor said. The next day I met with the other ENT doctor and he went over why surgery is in my best interest. I guess there are four major types of thyroid cancer. One that is more common among people who get thyroid cancer, another that makes up 15%, and two that are more rare. Some of the cells they found can be pre-cancerous to follicular thyroid cancer which is the type that makes up 15% of all cases. My age is also a factor. Usually people who are a lot older (55-75) will end up with a nodule with this particular cells. If they do its usually not a concern unless it impacts the way they swallow. The fact that there is one single nodule verses many. I guess the more you have the less likely they are to be cancerous. Lastly the size of my nodule. It is well above 2cm which makes it either a goiter or a tumor. “Either way it needs to come out within 6 months” is what he said to me. After hearing how many risk factors I have I decided to go ahead with the surgery.

How the surgery will work is they will go in and take out the right side of  my thyroid preserving my para thyroid glands (they regulate your calcium). After it is out they will leave my neck open and have the thyroid taken to pathology to be dissected. If there is anything that stands out as even the slightest bit odd they will have to take the other half of my thyroid. Then they will start looking at my lymph nodes to see if it has spread to any of those. If they cut it open and see nothing strange they will sew me up and call it good. Of course the latter is what I am hoping for. I want to try to preserve as much of my thyroid as possible.

Thyroid cancer is not a scary cancer. Its nearly 98% treatable and even if its spread to lymph nodes, those numbers don’t change. I will not die from this if it is indeed cancer. I will however have a hard time adjusting to half a thyroid, or no thyroid.  I’m already on meds for Hashimotos disease. They have upped them before the surgery trying to prevent a big drop in my T3 and T4 count after surgery. I will have to be on meds the rest of my life. I’m praying that after the surgery I can find a good balance in meds so I am not tired and sluggish. I have worked so hard to lose weight to gain it all back. Yes, very vain of me, but a concern.

My surgery is now just a little over 2 weeks away. I’m not nervous about it yet. Probably because I don’t know what to expect. I have to spend 23 hours in the hospital so they can watch my calcium levels. The parathyroid can shut down after thyroid surgery so they just have to make sure my body is regulating its calcium before I go home.  I hear its a pretty easy recovery. Just 3-4 days and I’ll be feeling okay. Here’s hoping that’s the truth unlike the promise of 2 days for my gallbladder. I think it will all go okay and I’ll be back to my old self within a week.

3 Responses to “The one where I lose my thyroid”

  • You sure are going through a lot this year, hoping for the best possible outcome for you!

  • Hi there. I don’t know you, but I found your blog while trying to find more info on thyroid nodules…woo! Fun stuff ;) I have to go in for a needle biopsy on Tuesday, so I’ve been trying to find more information on what to expect. But anyways, I just wanted to wish you good luck on your surgery! I hope you have a speedy recovery. Oh, and you take great photos! :)

  • Grandma Nana had the same problem. She had one side removed and eventually she had the rest taken. She was in her early 50s when I remember her in the hospital. Like the women on her side of the family, she lived well into her 90s with no problems. Her thyroid was not an issue after that. As you know, Grandma Nana died of complications of being an old bitchy lady whom we loved dearly.
    If you have any questions Sweetheart, ask. I am praying for you and John with strength and love. I know it is scary Baby, but you are so strong. If you need me please let me know. Even if it is to ask questions or talk. I am doing great and I am always here for you. I love you so much!! Mom

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