In August of 2011, I went to the doctor for my annual exam. A few days before, I had noticed some swollen glands on my neck. I thought nothing of it as that kind of thing happens all the time with sore throats and colds. I had neither, so I wasn't worried.
As the P.A. was giving the exam she noticed the swollen glands and asked me if I'd had a cold recently. She felt around a bit more and decided I needed to see an endocrinologist.
They never tell you anything, so you immediately go home and start searching the internet. I googled thyroid and got way more information than one should ever have, before they know what is really going on.
Blast the man who came up with a way to put so much information at the fingertips of the regular people.
Of course, on top of the list was thyroid cancer. Any time the word cancer comes up, my thoughts go to the worst possible scenario. The article did say that thyroid cancer was very treatable as it tends not to spread to other organs, and the entire thyroid can be removed.
My next appointment was with the endocrinologist. All the blood tests came back indicating my thyroid was functioning normally, but showed I had Hashimoto's Disease (a very common cause of Hypothyroidism). At the time it had not affected my thyroid function.
The doctor could feel nodules on my thyroid and sent me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed several small nodules and swollen lymph nodes in the area.
Next, I was sent to a surgeon who ordered a biopsy. The biopsy could not be performed because the nodules were too close to my carotid artery. Surgery was the only option to find out what was happening inside me.
The surgeon sent me get a CT scan because on the ultrasound he noticed my thymus gland was larger than the normal adult's. If it needed to be removed they would have to crack my chest; so we wanted to make sure we knew everything that was going on. I only wanted to have one surgery, not two!
Once the CT scan results came back it was concluded my thymus gland was fine.
The surgery took place in November 2011. They removed 12 lymph nodes and sent them for testing. Everything came back normal and my thyroid was left intact for the time being.
One doesn't know just how heavy a head is until you have a slice in your neck. I'm pretty sure I have a largely intelligent brain gauging by the weight of my head!
Each year I go in for blood work to have all my levels tested. I also have an ultrasound done each year to monitor the nodules for growth. It has been a little over four years and so far everything is still working just fine.
I have included some pictures. The top is the day of the surgery and the other is later down the road.
I know many people are concerned about the scar. You can't tell I have one unless you know about the surgery; and even then it's hard to see.
Today's guest poster is Natalie Larson. Natalie is an amazing lady, mother of three, hair stylist extraordinaire and just all around fabulous! If you would like to connect with her you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: Stories, Thyroid