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Proper Progress Report: First official labs since surgery

I finally had my first significant labs done.  My endocrinologist had me wait until the end of June to get my labs so that she would be back in the office to take a look at them.  Considering the last time she was out of the country and the medication mishap that occurred, I didn’t mind waiting an extra couple of weeks.

To my surprise, my labs came back as follows:

T4 (Thyroxine Free) 1.1 ng/dL  (Ref Range 0.7 – 1.8)

TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) 9.63 mcIU/mL (Ref Range 0.55 – 4.78)

So obviously, my TSH is about twice what is considered the upper end of normal.  What surprises me is that my T4 is pretty much right in the middle.  I was feeling pretty fine, sure, a little bloated more often than not, but a small price to pay considering all the things I was fretting about pre-surgery.

What I’m confuses me is that it’s not as though my thyroid is not producing enough and therefore my pituitary gland says “make more TSH”…  I don’t have a thyroid, I take a consistent dose of T4 that goes into my body every day.  I wonder if it’s just the shock of the gland disappearing or lifestyle functions that interfere with absorption…  In any event, they raised my dose from 112mg to 137mg, which I began on June 30th.  I’m curious to see how this will affect me.

Here are the lifestyle modifications I’ve made thus far:

  • Wake every day at 6:30 a.m. to take Synthroid pill, go back to sleep for 2-3 hours, wake up and have lemon-water (try to do this daily before breakfast or coffee) then coffee.  I’ve been drinking coffee every day and many times feel as though I need it, and that bothers me.  It’s all borrowed energy and the adrenals are what pay the debt in the long run, so maybe it’s good that I’m getting a higher dose.  The reason I get up to take it is that I feel better than if I take upon waking and watch the clock while my stomach growls, or worse yet, have to run off somewhere without being able to get a healthy breakfast.  I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel better if I go 2-3 hours between pill and anything other than water rather than the suggested one hour.  Yes it’s a pain in the arse, but you can be sure I think it’s worth it to take such measures.  A person can get used to pretty much anything.  Ever watch Hoarders where one spouse is a hoarder and the other lives with it for a decade or two?  It could be worse….
  • Avoid Soy.  Okay, this is something I was already doing for the most part before the surgery for non-thyroid related reasons, but I’m continuing to do so.  Previously, I’d eat fermented soy which limited me mostly to tempeh, but now I avoid that as well.  Sure, on the rare occasion I’ll eat a square or two of junk tofu ( Asian style from the farmer’s market cafeteria line), but it’s really only three squares every few months.  Avoiding soy means more than just avoiding tofu and edamame.  It means avoiding most salad dressings (I like to avoid Canola as well for the Omega 6 overload) and packaged food.  If it is in a box, it’s more than likely got soy in it.  Again, I was already doing my best to avoid processed food, but now I have even more incentive.  Making your own salad dressing is super easy and you have greater control of what you consume.  Something I’m in favor of already.
  • Not avoiding a high fiber diet.  This is something I refuse to modify, not that it was suggested by the doctor, but two of the things I eat a lot of are listed as interfering with the absorption of Synthroid on the brand’s website.  One is walnuts and the other is high fiber foods.  Now there is no f-ing way I’m avoiding those!  That would mean reducing the amount of fruits and vegetables I consume and that is the most ridiculous notion.  They’ll just have to increase the dose.  Oh wait, they did.
  • Keep my Synthroid in the refrigerator.  It is HOT y’allz!  I don’t care where you are in the country (except the pacific NW), it is balls-frying-on-the-pavement hot!  My old apartment and my new digs are similar in that the air conditioning does not really cool the joint down when it’s 106 degrees outside… and inside.  According to my research, Synthroid readily degrades when exposed to heat, so I keeps it in the fridge, yo!  That is, until the night before I take it, then I place it in a little shot glass next to the bed so I can wake up, take it (with a full glass of water), and lie back down and (sometimes) fall back asleep.
  • That’s it!

So, my lifestyle hasn’t changed that much.  I still have weird sensations at the incision site.  It feels itchy at times, like it’s being stretched at others, and then there’s that weird pinchy, burny feeling that I believe is my nerves growing back together.  All in all, it’s not too uncomfortable.  I forget it’s there most of the time, which is a vast difference from being hyper-conscious of my enlarged thyroid 100% of the time.  It’s been just three months and the ‘surgical ridge line’ has completely flattened out, though it’s still quite red.  I find I don’t wear necklaces these days because I feel like the scar competes with the necklace and it just looks cluttered, like I’m wearing two necklaces.  Hmph.

I haven’t really been putting anything on it other than sunscreen, which I’ve been lax about, but it’s not like I’ve stepped outside other than to walk to my car or work.  It is HOT y’allz!  When it feels itchy, I’ll rub some of my shea/coconut concoction that I sell in the winter time on it because it’s too rich for any other part of my body in the summer.  I did buy Mederma, but I’ve only used it about 4 times.  I guess I just don’t really care enough to make it a priority.  I figure I can get around to it when I get tired of looking at it.  Really though, putting an acid-peel type substance on a fresh surgical scar just feels counter-intuitive.

I think my least favorite thing is the strange sensation when I yawn.  Since there’s no thyroid there to separate my trachea from my neck flesh/skin, when I yawn, it feels scratchy and weird when my neck skin rubs on my trachea.  I bet you’re working up an appetite, huh?

On a related topic, I was listening to an episode of The Moth podcast whilst making a batch of soap this evening and there was a story told by Jennifer Fitzgerald in which she does her best to “slut it up” in an effort to get a boyfriend to prove her parents wrong (funny story, that’s why you should listen) and the captain of the wrestling team ***SPOILER/VULGARITY ALERT*** shoves her hand down his pants and she exclaims “Jesus Christ!  It feels like chicken parts!”  Tantalizing, no?  I had a good laugh at that one…

Progress report so far:

  • zero pounds gained (aside from normal fluctuations)
  • zero pounds lost
  • mild occasional bloating – not the worst case scenerio
  • frequent stomach aches – not inclined to think this is thyroid related, but thought I’d mention it
  • plenty of energy to do the things I need to do and the body tells me when it’s time to rest
  • some annoying short term memory malfunction – again, not the worst case scenerio
  • fairly stable mood – no pronounced depression or anxiety
  • dosage increase 6.30.12 – will update accordingly

Most days are good, others, I feel like I’m just hanging on, trying not to fall over the edge, but mostly, they’re good.  I think that’s the best that anyone could ask for Total Thyroidectomy or not.  So, I guess I’m doing fine.Image

“A little perspective, like a little humor, goes a long way.”
Allen Klein

 

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Here goes…

Well, what’s left to say?  I spent the day running last minute errands.  My mom and I went to the Farmer’s Market to get mushy food in case I feel like I can’t put down the solid stuff.  We got some sweet potatoes for mashing; lots of beans for pureeing; kale, bananas, berries, and parsley (forgot the celery) for smoothie-ing; soup for healing…

Yesterday I worked out the crazy medical bills that have started to come in and stress me out.  I paid the $54.00 doctor bill which is separate from the hospital bill in that the doctor charges for the interpretation of the ultrasound and EKG while the $399.00 hospital bill is for the actual ultrasound performance.  The $889.00 “this is not a bill” statement of charges that is being sent to my insurance is for the EKG and laboratory work that was done during my pre-op appointment – fortunately they did not have to re-do the pre-op or that would’ve been a really expensive cold I caught.  I thought I was only going to be responsible for a little over $1,000 for the actual surgery, but after the second woman I spoke with and the varying ways different people code medical procedures, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to be facing financially.  The good news is that two of the three people I’ve spoken to at the billing department of Emory University Hospital told me the something similar, which is that I can arrange a payment plan once I receive a bill and I don’t have to sort it out beforehand.  So, I opened a tab with $399.00 which I will begin paying in May since I don’t work two weeks this month, and as I receive the next two, I can just call them up and have ’em put it on my tab.  Gotta do what you gotta do, eh?

Earlier today, my surgeon’s secretary gave me a call to make sure we’re still on for surgery tomorrow.  Not sure why she didn’t call the first time, but she did have heart surgery recently, so I’ll give her a pass on that one…  She’s a sweet lady, a bit odd, but in a good way.  While I had her on the phone, I asked her a question about something that has been concerning me.  T.M.I. ALERT!!  My period is due tomorrow.  Of course that’s no guarantee that it will come, but the way things have been going, I figured I’d be in for it on surgery day.  I know that when you have anesthesia, you have to remove all metal from your body – jewelry, piercings, etc., as it will burn you or something of the like.  On top of that, on my first go-round, they told me to get completely undressed under my gown, under-roos and all.  Since you never really know what goes into certain products, and if I were to use an internal feminine hygiene device a tampon, what if there’s some metallic derivative, like how they use aluminum in antiperspirant, and I end up with third degree burns on my delicate lady walls?  As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m not taking any chances.  Maybe they have some kind of surgical menstrual diaper or something, how do I know?  So she puts me on hold to ask the surgeon before I could protest, then comes back on the line and tells me “He said ‘you’ll be fine'”.  Oh, good.  I guess I’ll just ask tomorrow if circumstances call for it, like I should’ve just decided to do in the first place.

So, that’s what’s going on with me.  A little more peace, a little more ease.  I do still have a bit of the collywobbles.  I had one angry outburst due to an upturned bowl of quinoa and broccoli, as well as a couple of stress dreams, but overall, doing much better than the first try.  It’s really strange how this feels physically.  The first time, I was so knotted up that a two hour massage couldn’t fix it.  Then, after the post I wrote about the three poisons, where I realized I had the choice to let go or try to hold onto my metaphoric jello by squeezing it in my fist, I really did let go.  I completely forgot about the knot in my shoulder, it just dissolved.  What I’ve been feeling now is the very same feeling I felt in my body while getting ready for the seventh grade dance where I told my “boyfriend” I’d kiss him afterward; the very same feeling I had five minutes before the end of the school day in seventh grade as I prepared to speed-walk out to my bus while the six girls who bullied me daily chased after me, threatening to “kick my ass”, as was the popular phrase back then.  Whether it was anticipating an exciting first experience or the fear of physical harm, it was the exact same feeling back then, and the chemicals running through my bloodstream are the exact same ones now.  They transported me back to those moments instantly, like a smell that puts you in the most specific time and place.  The fire in my belly makes me wonder if I’m excited, like I’d feel if I was moving to Paris, but the brain says “Holy shit, I’m about to jump off a ten story building and I’m not sure if that’s a regulation air mattress down below”.

I’m experiencing some unease, but I think that’s natural for anyone about to go under for any kind of surgery.  The difference this time is that I’m breathing, thinking and feeling more positive, and absolutely ready to lift this heavy burden that I’ve carried for the last six years so that I can move forward with my life and do the things I’ve been wanting to do.  I’m looking forward to not losing any more precious moments that would’ve been filled with laughter and joy, but instead were filled with self-consciousness and focused on ways to hide my neck.  I think of how many more moments I could’ve enjoyed in my very special trip to Costa Rica, how many more pictures I would’ve participated in, how many more times I could’ve been truly present.  I’m ready to participate in life instead of hiding from it, one step at a time.

I have to be to the hospital at 7:30 a.m. and surgery is scheduled for 9:30, but I’ve been told it will probably be at 10:30 since it’s not a normal surgery day.  I anticipate returning home on Saturday morning.  I will try to post about my experience as I recover and I also have some pictures that I might share.  I also have a few episodes of An Idiot Abroad and Arrested Development to keep me smiling.  Thank you to all of you who have wished me well over the course of the last few months.  I feel surrounded by light and love, and I am smiling.  Here goes…..

 

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Appointment to schedule surgery, scheduled.

I’ll be seeing the surgeon on Monday, January 23 to consult and to schedule surgery. …deeeeep breaths….

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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