My Bulbous Thyroid (Now Less Bulbous)

It’s now been 12 days since I had half of my thyroid removed due to a large nodule (which turned out to be 2 nodules, one kind of big and one huge) that was pushing my esophagus and larynx to the side. Back in June, I had a needle biopsy that showed the nodules were not likely to be cancerous (with thyroid nodules cancer isn’t exactly easy to find as it’s not necessarily throughout a nodule), but they did see that I have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My surgeon said my thyroid is obviously inflamed from the Hashimoto’s, but all things considered, surgery went well. The amount of tissue removed prompted him to leave a drain in because my body would likely try to fill the space back up during the first day or two afterwards. Drains aren’t generally used for thyroid removal as they aren’t usually necessary, but I’m glad he put one in for me. I ended up staying 2 nights instead of the usual 24 hours in the hospital because it just kept draining. I guess my body really wanted to fill that space back up. After 2 days it finally gave up on that idea and I went home.

This was my first surgery, and I do not recommend it if you can avoid it. General anesthesia is no joke. I woke up with nausea, pain in my neck (both from the incision and from having my head tilted back for the 3 hours I was in surgery), hunger, thirst, a nasty taste in my mouth from whatever they had me inhale to help sedate me, and exhaustion. Despite anti-nausea medication, I had a hard time getting very much food in me until around 10pm the first night. I felt okay overnight, but the nausea came back just when my breakfast arrived (I ordered french toast and it tasted really good, but it was cold by the time my stomach let me finish it). After one more dose of anti-nausea medication the nausea went away entirely. The pain was mostly gone by Day 4 and now my neck just feels weird. The muscle(s) above the incision are slowly starting to work again, but I’m numb to the touch in that whole area that was manipulated during surgery. Other people who’ve had thyroidectomies have told me their numbness either went away in 3-4 months or they still have it 3-4 years later. Time will tell what happens with mine.

Since I’m off work for a full two weeks, I had hoped to get some things done with my Beachbody Coaching business and put together my vision board for 2017. Unfortunately, I was so tired and foggy for the first 8 or 9 days that I basically sat around and rested nearly all the time (and there’s that little matter of my best friend breaking her leg on Day 4 Post Op and needing help since she can’t exactly  walk or even feed her cat just yet, and that’s taken any extra energy I may have had). Yesterday and today I’ve felt pretty good though, so my 2017 Vision Board is done and I’ve put together some action steps to get me to my vision by the end of the year.

I have big plans this year, and part of that plan includes taking steps to push off clinical hypothyroidism as far into the future as I can. Hashimoto’s is a progressive disease, and I’ve been seeing a lot of stories from people who have had success treating it with lifestyle and diet changes. Many, many people say going gluten free has totally changed the way they feel and their antibodies (a measure of how active the autoimmune attack on the thyroid is) have reduced since stopping consuming gluten. Others say there were other things in their diet that they started avoiding, but gluten doesn’t make a difference for them. There’s so much anecdotal information out there, but not a lot of doctors are terribly interested in treating Hashimoto’s until clinical hypothyroidism hits, so it’s hard to figure out what to try, especially since I am only very mildly symptomatic at this point. I know soy is a problem for me (if I have a full serving of something like soy milk, all of my joints ache for a few days afterward), and I know dairy causes a little bit of digestive upset. But I tried eliminating gluten for a few weeks last summer, and reintroducing it made no difference. So I think I’ll try a dairy and soy free diet for awhile and see where that takes me.

All in all, I’m grateful for modern medicine and I have hope that I can help the remaining portion of my thyroid function as best as possible by changing some of the things I eat and continuing to exercise to keep the rest of my body strong.

Here’s a before and after comparison of my neck:

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