Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Thyroid and I

Three years ago this week I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism caused by a toxic nodular goiter. The week before my wedding was a scary one and one that involved not only a happy time with family and friends to celebrate our marriage, but one that involved waiting to hear either good or bad news.

It all started like this:

It was my first year teaching, not a whole lot of working out, but VERY, very tired. I was living with my parents at the time and would come home and crash the very second I walked into my room. My mom kept telling me to go to the doctor. I just chalked it up to a stressful first year of teaching. I also ate like there was no tomorrow. I could eat my husband under the table! I would also get up several times at night and just eat and eat. I could eat a whole box of cereal and still feel hungry. I could eat a giant portion of Thai food and then eat the rest of my husband's. And I lost weight.

Before I turned 30 I decided I should have my cholesterol and everything else checked just to make sure everything was healthy, wealthy and wise. I got the results back and went over them and noticed something wasn't jiving with my thyroid numbers, they were nowhere near the optimal range. But the doctor said everything was fine. She looked again and told me to get a blood test again. Sure enough thyroid ranges were nowhere near normal.

I came into the office and she palpated my thyroid and felt a small lump. And then got me an appointment for a radioactive iodine test. If the thyroid tested hot it was good, if it was cold it was not good. This was where I had to wait until we were on our honeymoon to find out. A "cold" test result could mean cancer. A "hot" result meant something not so serious, but still needed to be taken care of.

Anyway, my symptoms were as follows:

Nervousness, and anxiousness

hungry all of the time

sweaty hot all of the time

heart palpitations

fast heartbeat

shaky hands

losing weight

Eventually the goiter on my thyroid becoming large enough to see.

While awaiting treatment, I went to an endocrinologist and started taking beta-blockers to help with slowing things down, as being hyperthyroid speeds everything up. I was still a nervous wreck and had difficulty with my nerves even with the beta-blockers. But the doctor wanted to get some symptoms under control before deciding what he wanted to do.

I found out I had two options. One was a partial thyroidectomy and the other was Radioactive Iodine Therapy. After consulting both the surgeon and endocrinologist I decided to go with the RAI. It was very simple. A giant radioactive pill had to be swallowed and I couldn't be around children for three days. I felt fine during the treatment and about three months later everything tested normal! The endocrinologist said there would be a chance of swinging the other way and going into hypothyroid, but so far so good. I had to get a blood test every three months and then every 6 and now just once a year.

I could not believe how sick I was until I started feeling better! I thought everything I felt had to do with the stress of being a first year teacher, but it was really my whacked out thyroid.

The moral of this story is to listen to your body and if something is not right, find out why! And also, listen to your mom, she is probably right!


  1. You had mentioned being on beta-blockers and I was wondering what that was about. Especially when you're young and appear otherwise healthy, doctor's are quick to write off problems like exhaustion and anxiety. Good for you (and Your mom) for persisiting.

  2. Beta-blockers slowed down my heart-rate and limited my heart palpitations. And they gave me more energy. I was on them about a month.

  3. Wow, that is just crazy! I'm glad you finally figured out what was going on!


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