It's been a long time since I posted an update on my thyroid. This is partly due to the fact that nearly four years post-surgery, I'm still seeing doctors and having blood tests to try and figure out what is going on. It's been a roller coaster of a journey, with difficult choices ahead of me.... so let me fill you in.
When I had my surgery back in December 2010, the idea was to have a total thyroidectomy to cure my overactive thyroid. No thyroid, no problem - right? So I thought, but it turned out due to to not being able to locate one of the nerves connected to my voice box, they had to leave a small amount of my thyroid in.
This has meant, since surgery, my thyroid has never settled down. I was put onto thyroxine and this dosage was gradually reduced until, a few months ago, I changed my GP who sent me to to see a specialist (better late than never), and was taken off the thyroxine altogether. I was told that, due to the fact it looks as though what is left of my thyroid could be turning overactive again, I could now be faced with two options: take an iodine drink to kill off what's left, or face further surgery.
It wasn't what I wanted to hear. I haven't really felt any ill effects from my thyroid since the surgery, but then, I don't think I've ever know what a 'normal' thyroid feels like, so it's impossible for me to tell. Yes, I feel tired a lot of the time, but when you take into account my stressful job, long hours and the fact I lead an active life, exercising a lot - is that really so abnormal?
I've also had no problem losing weight at a healthy rate through diet and weight training - but then, when I look at the fact I've had four weeks of no training and eating cake (due to a shoulder injury) and I've hardly put on any body fat at all when I should have, maybe that is a sign my thyroid is still misbehaving.
But I haven't given up hope. Since coming off the thyroxine my latest blood tests returned a good result - a sign that without any intervention, perhaps things are settling down? I'm not ready to commit to surgery or an iodine drink at this stage. Unfortunately, I do have a small lump reappearing where my thyroid is hyping up again. Before surgery I had a fairly large goiter, which then vanished, but the little remnant is appearing again. My doctor tells me it isn't very noticeable, but I see it.
There is also the matter of my scar. It's not pretty - the staples were taken out too soon and the wound opened - and I'm hoping to speak with the surgeon to see if further surgery would be able to solve this problem. Would going through it all again be so traumatic due to the fact there is less to come out? There are so many questions I still have.
At this stage, I am trying to really focus on getting my body to a place where it's working at its best through nutrition and regular exercise. Training gives me zest, makes me feel healthy, and eating a clean, nutritious diet is what I need right now. I'm trying to cut back on thryoid-stiumlating vegetables such as raw brocolli and spinach, and making sure I eat Brazil nuts every day which contain thyroid-supporting selenium.
I know I can't sure my thyroid through my diet, but perhaps I can nourish it enough so that it will work better? I'm no medical expert, I don't know if it will work, but that is my plan, because right now I cannot face the thought of going through that whole experience again.
So that is where I am - four years post-op but still smiling despite the rocky ride! My scar is barely noticeable to others and my surgery seems like a distant memory now. I'm hoping I am back on track, but time will tell.
Has anyone else who had a sub-total thyroidectomy had a similar experience? I'd love to hear your stories, please share them below or feel free to get in touch.