Friday, June 7, 2013

Thyroid Disease Sucks!

Yeah Yeah...it's been awhile since I've blogged.  I'm a blog slacker.  Now, however, I'm quarantined for the next few days and I'm bored. Really bored.  So, I figured, why not update that blog I haven't touched for almost 2 years...Brilliant idea, I say!  Back to the topic of the post...my thyroid issues.  A few years ago I was diagnosed with Hyperthyroidism due to nodules on my thyroid.  You can follow the links for details, but here is the shortened version. The non-cancerous growths were secreting excess thyroid hormone in my body causing everything to work overtime and in overdrive.  Think heart, metabolism, and digestive system.  Contrary to popular belief, having too much thyroid hormone isn't wonderful and doesn't make you skinny.  It just makes you a "hot mess." Crabby, irritable, hot, anxious and tired.  I took medicine for a couple of years (2008-2010) which seemed to suppress the nodules and returned my thyroid function to normal.  I was told that this could last for several years but eventually it would probably come back, as that treatment was only successful in 20% of patients with thyroid disease. It came back. With. A. Vengeance.

Fast forward to 2013.  I had kind of suspected in the Fall of 2012 that my thyroid disease was flaring up again, but the symptoms were subtle and easy to disregard. I was tired regardless of how much I slept and I was having night sweats. I was also feeling somewhat anxious, as well as having bouts of insomnia.  Add to that mood swings that were out of this world...  Honestly, I thought it could be the early stages of menopause. I'm a busy wife and mom of 2 active boys that also works part-time.  All of those symptoms are common as we age, right?  I also knew I needed to work out more and eat better.  In January of 2013, I committed to doing just that. Exercise and clean eating.  I embarked on Insanity and following the clean eating diet with the program.  After struggling to keep up with the workouts and GAINING weight, I invested in a heart rate monitor to make sure I wasn't over estimating the calories burned and therefore over-eating. Well what I found out scared the S**T out of me.  This heart rate monitor said my heart rate was averaging 180-200 during the workout. I am lucky to be alive I tell ya! I knew that wasn't right. Then I found myself short of breath after walking up the stairs in my house. I honestly didn't suspect my thyroid, but thought I had a heart problem.  I went to the doctor, she performed a gamut of tests and found the ticker was fine, but the thyroid not so much. The hyperthyroid had returned. Also, just in case you were wondering, I am NOT starting menopause, ha ha!!

So off to the endocrinologist I went... 2 months later.  You see, getting into a specialist takes months. When you feel like crap, the medical community want to laugh at us and make us fell bad that much longer.  Luckily, I was an "established patient" so I received a priority appointment. Seriously?

After the 2 months of waiting, I finally had my appointment.  The doctor wanted to treat me with an "anti-thyroid" medication again, but I felt like that was just a band-aid fix to the greater problem.  The medicine is not to be taken long term and is hard on the liver.  Plus, I took the medicine before and the thyroid disease returned.  He didn't order any further testing, and didn't do much of a physical exam.

After recommendation from my general practitioner, I went to another endocrinologist. My general doc was able to pull some strings and got me in within only 2 weeks! It was nothing short of a miracle I am sure. The new endo ran me thru the ringer of tests.  Physical exam, eye exam (hyperthyroid from Graves Disease affects your eyes) blood work, radioactive iodine uptake scan and finally a thyroid ultrasound.  It was discovered I have Graves Disease and Toxic Multi-Nodule Goiter causing my hyperthyroidism. While neither is life threatening on its own, if left untreated they can cause vision problems, osteoporosis and heart problems.  I was already having some of the heart symptoms, so the doc put me on a beta-blocker to help with the palpitations and high resting heart rate. I also had to give up intense physical exercise because of the extremely high heart rate during exercise.  That has been the worst, I have to say. While I don't LOVE exercise, I do like the way it lowers my stress and makes me overall a happier person. My thyroid is also enlarged, especially the right lobe.  It is 3 times the size of a normal thyroid.  I was starting to have trouble swallowing certain foods, as it felt like they were getting "stuck."

Now that the diagnosis was in and firm, I had to make a decision on treatment.  Take the anti-thyroid medicine again or opt for a more permanent solution. I'm not one for a band-aid fix, so I wanted the permanent solution.  That was ablation of the thyroid by Radioactive Iodine. So, yesterday at exactly 12:50 CST, I swallowed a radioactive iodine pill. Yes, I'm Radioactive.  I included a link to the song because I KNOW you are singing it right now.

The procedure sounds scarier than it is. The only tissue in your body that absorbs iodine is the thyroid. It is essential for thyroid function, which is why it is put into our table salt. The radioactive iodine will be absorbed by the thyroid and gradually kill the tissue off over the next 4-8 weeks. Once that happens, it will force me into hypothyroid and I will take a thyroid replacement hormone for the rest of my life.  Unfortunately, the worst side effect is the quarantine. I have to limit exposure to others for 72 hours, especially children and pregnant women.  I also cannot sleep in the same bed as Chris for 5 days.  I have to use all disposable eating utensils, too. Basically I have to stay about 6 feet away from others. I can be in close contact for periods less than 15 minutes, but I'm trying hard to keep the 6 foot boundary at all times.  The good news is that it was less risky than surgery and I will be feeling good in a few weeks. I work from home so I am able to work, too which is another bonus of this method of treatment.  Plus, I don't have any dietary restrictions, which means I can drink wine while in quarantine!

It's been a little over 24 hours since I became radioactive. I'm feeling pretty good. One of the side effects is dry mouth which I'm having a mild case of and I feel more tired than usual. I have bouts of nausea that come and go, but its nothing severe. Oh, and I have to carry a card with me at all times for the next few months that says I had this treatment. Apparently even the smallest amounts of radiation are detected in airports and government buildings. Wouldn't that be funny, getting detained by the TSA because I am radioactive?!?!?

The quarantine is tough though. I'm tired of watching TV and  reading is putting me to sleep. Maybe I just need a more exciting book?  Even though they are just in the other room, I miss my family. It's getting lonely.   Hence why I decided to revisit the blog. Plus, I missed writing. Even if no one reads this, it was fun sitting down and being creative for a while.

The boys are all doing well through this all. They come and check on me and we can interact just from a distance. Chris has everything running smoothly and is a saint for putting up with me during all of this. I know I've been a hot mess the past few months, but I'm hopeful this is the end and there are better days in my future.  Cheers to feeling well and to being radioactive, ha ha!!

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