My goiter from Graves’ Disease (a/k/a Hyperactive thyroid)
**UPDATE 12/15/17: I was diagnosed last month with hyper-parathyroidism. My Endo referred me to a surgeon, but I decided to pick my own. I wanted the best. I believe I found that in Dr. Steven DeJong at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago. I saw him a couple weeks ago, and after reviewing my 4D CT scan, Ultrasound and bloodwork, he believes I have 2 parathyroid tumors, and said that my thyroid/goiter and nodules are so large, that they are around the size of his fist! And it is growing downwards into my sternum. Yikes.
Dr. De Jong said I need to have a total thyroidectomy, and a sub-total parathyroidectomy. Meaning, my whole thyroid/goiter is coming out, and he’s hopefully going to leave 2 parathyroid glands behind (that is, if they are normal once he gets in there).
So! “Eviction Day” is set for January 11th. Eviction Day is what people with parathyroid tumors affectionately call surgery day. 😉 I’m finally kicking out the beast that is wreaking all of the havoc in my body. I am excited!…but of course a little nervous. I’ve never had surgery before, but the thought of a 2-3 inch incision on my neck gives me the heebie jeebies.
Here I was thinking it would be a quick, non-invasive surgery like all the others with parathyroid tumors, but no. Mine will be a regular surgery, with an overnight stay, but only 2 weeks recovery. Not too bad. Due to the overnight stay, all of my time off of work will be short-term disability pay, and I don’t have to use ANY personal, sick or vacation time! Thank you Lord! After surgery, it’s life as usual…except that I’ll apparently feel 20 years younger and my brain fog and body aches will be gone!!
I’m ready to kick butt at the gym, grow my essential oils business, ace my Aromatherapy Certification course and finish learning the basics of the Norwegian language. It’s been so hard to do any of those things due to body aches and memory/brain fog/confusion problems. But I have high expectations for goals and accomplishments in 2018!
I just want to offer up a bit of advice… ANY TIME you have blood work done, always look at it. If ANY of your numbers are in the abnormal range, and your doctor does nothing – get a 2nd opinion. It could save you decades of pain.
**UPDATE 10/11/17: I went for a physical the other day, at my family doctor’s office, and they sent me for bloodwork. I’ve been experiencing diabetes symptoms, and it runs in the family, so I wanted to get checked out. While my blood tests came back mostly normal for diabetes (even though it revealed that I’m pre-diabetes), my doctor was concerned that my calcium level was high. What the heck could high calcium do!? Well, I’ll tell you why you should be concerned if your calcium level is ever higher than a 10.
Anything above 10 on your blood work is considered high. Mine was 10.7 on this current test. In 2015 it was 11.0 and in 2014 it was 10.8. I am not sure why my doctor didn’t say anything about my level being high in 2014 or 2015, but I’m grateful that he looked into it further this time. With the latest symptoms I’ve been experiencing over the past year or so, he decided to send me back to the lab for a PTH test (parathyroid hormone test).
Apparently, if both your calcium and parathyroid levels are high, you more or less have a parathyroid tumor called an “adenoma.” They are almost always benign (less than 1 in 2500 are cancerous), but this little bugger wreaks havoc on your body. It basically pulls calcium out of your bones (even your teeth!), and the calcium floats around in your blood stream because you are unable to absorb it. This causes many frustrating symptoms that make you feel ill just about all of the time. There is a more scientific explanation at Parathyroid.com, they are experts and only deal with parathyroid diseases.
I’ve had all sorts of symptoms that I’ve never been able explain for about 9 years now. It’s so frustrating to have your thyroid checked yearly, only to get a normal result – but you still know there is something wrong with your body. Doctors begin to think you’re making it all up! After my doctor ordered me to get the parathyroid blood test, I Googled “parathyroid adenoma” symptoms – I have just about all of them. It also went on to say that there is a quick procedure to remove the tumor (less than 20 mins!), with a small incision on your neck and a quick recovery, as opposed to the old school surgery with an 8″ incision! (yikes!!) They say that once the troublemaker tumor is removed, you are cured. You are basically supposed to feel normal again within hours, days or months (depending on how sick you were and for how long). I cannot contain my excitement!! I don’t even remember what “normal” feels like!! I’m basically praying I have this tumor, so that I can get it taken out. 😉
I got the results of my PTH tests back and my level is 110 pg/mL. Normal levels are between 15 and 65 pg/mL. So, it looks like I have the tumor. I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist. I am assuming he will diagnose me with hyperparathyroid adenoma, and when he does, I am scheduling the surgery ASAP. I am aching (no pun intended) to feel better!
I will update again after my appointment with the endocrinologist. Hoping for a diagnosis so I can finally get the tumor out and be done with this part of my life.
Back in 1996, when I was in high school, I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, called Grave’s Disease (a/k/a hyperactive thyroid) and was told I also had toxic multinodular goiters on my thyroid. The goiter was benign, thank God, but the symptoms of the disease were rough on me as an already self-conscious teenager.
[The thyroid is a small gland in the neck just below the Adam’s apple. Its primary function is to produce hormones that influence most of the metabolic functions of the body. Three primary thyroid conditions, of which I will mention later, can occur for a variety of reasons and each carry their own set of annoying symptoms.]
So, at 16, my daily life was filled with nervousness, anxiety, shakiness, excessive sweating, losing hair around the hairline, large eyes and pupils, feeling sick if I hadn’t eaten, and basically looking anorexic due to the inability to gain weight. I also had a lump growing on my lower neck called a goiter. Just lovely.
At times it was hard to sleep on my stomach because my pillow would push against my tender goiter. I started sleeping with a stuffed bear under my chest to lift up my neck. This would relieve any pressure on my goiter.
There were one “bonus” in having a hyperactive thyroid – I could eat an entire pizza every day of the week, or 2 pints of Hagen Daaz ice cream in one sitting, and not gain an ounce! Being skinny may sound like a good thing, but it’s not in this case. And I can’t tell you how many people have asked me “how can I get a hyper-thyroid!?” Trust me people, you don’t want one!!
One particularly hard part about having this disease as a teen was that kids at school would ask me if I were anorexic. A friend once approached me in the hallway at school, and asked if I were sick because I had a lump on my neck (goiter). I didn’t “fill out” the school bathing suit in gym class like the other girls, because I was too skinny. That was embarrassing, to say the least.
Finally, after a year or so on antithyroid medications – Synthroid and PTU – my doctor scheduled me to have the radioactive iodine treatment (“RAI”) at the Nuclear Medicine department of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital. This was to try to stop my thyroid from producing too much thyroid hormone. This treatment is serious business – the doctor dons protective gloves and drops a radioactive iodine pill down your throat. You aren’t even allowed to touch it. You are then instructed not to sit by anyone who is pregnant for 3 days after treatment (!?!). You are to flush the toilet 3 times each time you go, and eat with paper plates and plastic forks. They don’t want any of your bodily fluids touching someone else. (And maybe my future children will have 3 heads?)
I wondered, if the radioactivity in my body could harm someone else just by sitting next to them, what radioactive residue could it leave behind that might wreak havoc in my future? While the future of my health is unknown, I am thankful that my thyroid has currently, and for the past 22 years, not given me any trouble since RAI treatment. This is actually pretty rare because most people end up turning hypo (underactive) after this treatment, and need to take Synthroid for the rest of their lives. I am basically cured, hopefully forever, of the overproduction of thyroid hormone in my thyroid. I still have goiters, and I still get yearly blood tests. So, it’s not completely out of my life.
My goiter isn’t as noticeable now, but I still get a tad self-conscious when I wear a short necklace, which accentuates my lump. Sometimes I feel the necklace is like a blinking arrow on the Vegas strip, directing your gaze to my lovely lump! (Said lump is depicted in the photo at the top of this page).
TYPES OF THYROID DISORDERS
Hypothyroidism is a where the thyroid is not producing enough of the thyroid hormones, which may lead to a variety of symptoms, such as: obesity, joint pain, infertility, heart disease, tiredness, depression, lack of concentration, feeling cold, constipation, muscle cramps, weight gain, increased menstrual flow, more frequent periods, itchy skin and thinning hair. It is most common in women, over 50.
This is where the body attacks the thyroid tissue. This results in inflammation and damage to the tissue. Which then results in reduced amounts of the hormones normally generated by the thyroid.
An overactive thyroid increases your metabolism, like you wouldn’t believe. It causes sudden weight loss (I was 96 lbs my senior year in high school), a rapid heartbeat, sweating, nervousness and irritability. More symptoms include: insomnia, anxiety, irritability, bulging eyes, weakness in arms/legs, shaky hands, frequent bowel movements, weight loss, racing heartbeat, premature grey hair, lighter menstrual flow, less frequent periods. All of which I experienced as a 16 year old. Ugh…
Various forms of hyperthyroidism include:
Radioactive Iodine (RAI)
Alternative wellness support (i.e., essential oils, healthy eating, supplements, lemon tonic (see my blog on these), etc.)
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR THYROID
While I am not on any thyroid medications, I do try and support my thyroid with a natural approach. There are a few essential oils can be a huge help in supporting your endocrine system, especially your thyroid. Some of which include: Myrtle, Lemongrass and Frankincense.
Myrtle oil is what they call an “adaptogen” type of oil. It has been discovered through research that myrtle oil has the ability to support the natural balance of the thyroid hormone – whether under-performing or over-performing. (see research by Dr. Daniel Penoel).
Rub 1-3 diluted drops of myrtle oil onto your big toe, or on your neck below where the Adam’s apple would sit, once or twice a day. You can also intensify this thyroid support by blending lemongrass or frankincense – they are both the “intensifiers.”
Should you wish to make a rollerball bottle, for easy application, of myrtle and lemongrass, or lemongrass and frankincense, be sure to dilute it as follows:
Add 10 drops of an essential oil to any 5mL roller bottle. Add 20 drops of an essential oil if you are using a 10mL roller bottle. Then, you would fill the remainder of the roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil. This is roughly a 1:10 ratio. Or see chart below. The colored drops show how many actual drops of oil to use in the corresponding bottle size, and the gray drop shows the percentages it would represent for each of those colored drops. I hope it makes sense. (It confused me at first!) (See note in red below)
FYI – Not all essential oils are created equal. Most oils are adulterated, contain fillers and contaminants and come from Lord-knows-where. The oils I use give full disclosure of their countries of origin, and they are third-party tested for absolute purity. They are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade, and extremely potent. If you would like to use this brand, please comment below and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.
**[PLEASE NOTE: According to the compliance rules of the FDA, I am unable to disclose my favorite oil company’s name in the body of this blog, but you can comment below with your email address, and I’ll send you the link, along with some great educational materials on essential oils.]
If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, please make an appointment with a good Endocrinologist. They will take the appropriate blood tests to see if you have low or high thyroid hormone levels.
Blessings and good health to you!