Friday, May 14, 2010

100% Thyroid Free!

Many of you have been praying for my recovery from surgery to remove my thyroid, but you don't know the whole story...or even part of it. So here it is and the many ways God provided for me during that time!

In February, 2010, I went to the doctor for an infection in both of my ears. I also thought I was depressed because I was exhausted all the time and cried a lot, sometimes out of proportion to what it was that I was crying about. The doctor checked my ears and throat. Then she felt my glands and commented that my thyroid was enlarged. (God taking care of me #1) It's been enlarged for years so I didn't think too much about it. She thought I should have an ultrasound, and to be honest, I thought she was overreacting. But, I had it and when I got the results, I found out that there was a large lump on my thyroid.

She wanted me to have a biopsy. This was my first point of real concern because you biopsy because there could be cancer. The dreaded "c" word. So, we booked the biopsy for as soon as possible. When I went in for it, the person doing the biopsy said my whole thyroid was lumpy and there was nothing to worry about. This was a relief, however, I still had to wait a week for the "official" results. When the doctor's office finally called, almost a full week later when it was only supposed to be 2-3 days, they said that the biopsy was inconclusive. So, now we were back to "It might be cancer. It might not. We don't know."

My regular family doctor wanted me to see a specialist. I was to pick one from a list of names off a piece of paper they sent me. I called and was able to get in to one of the doctors on the list, after a cancellation, right away. I should have known, but I ignored the signs that this doctor was not highly sought after. (To put it more bluntly, she was a quack.) She wanted me to do a special radiation test. I would have to go on a special diet for two weeks where I could eat fruit, nuts, and fresh meat. Then, I'd swallow a radioactive pill where I would not be allowed to be around small children, pregnant women, and small animals, like Frank the wiener dog.

I tried the diet and it didn't work so well. My blood sugar dropped, I started throwing up, got dehydrated, and ended up in the emergency room. Normally, I would have been annoyed that this was happening, but I immediately thought, "This must be happening for a reason." (God taking care of me #2) After the emergency room, I called the doctor's office the next day and explained what had happened. They didn't call me back. And they didn't call me back. And they didn't call me back. Finally I called them again, and found out that it was their day to go home early. Even though they'd had 6 hours to call me before they left, they didn't.

You know that voice in your head that says, "This is not good. This is not good. THIS IS NOT GOOD!!" (God taking care of me #3) Well, I listened and I called one of my elementary leaders at church who had mentioned that she had problems with her thyroid when she just happened to overhear me talking about my special thyroid iodine free diet coming up. (God taking care of me #4) She told me how she had a great doctor now and a horrible one to begin with. The first one didn't listen, wouldn't call her back, etc. Sounded a little too familiar and I didn't want to go down that road. I got the hint and decided I was done with the quack. Luckily our leader's doctor was covered by my insurance and I was relieved to know I was going to someone good, not just someone I found on a piece of paper. (God taking care of me #5)

Well, I called her doctor the next morning. By now, it was March and they told me they could see me the end of June. Not as quickly as I had hoped! However, if my family doctor called, they would get me in sooner. So, my family doctor called. I found out on a Monday that the family doctor had called and the thyroid doctor said they could get me in the end of June. The family doctor recommended another doctor who could get me in to see their doctor in April, but again, this was just someone they picked off a sheet of paper. I hung up the phone and started crying. I didn't know what to do. Should I wait for the good doctor? Should I see the doctor that may or may not be good? What would waiting do if this was cancer and could be spreading? Let's just say, I was a bit of a mess.

So, I called the good thyroid doctor one more time. It's been over a month now but I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. This is it more or less. Hope you're sitting down.
"Hello. This is Angela Walters. You said if my doctor's office called they could get me in sooner, but they couldn't. Do you know why?"
"No. Have them call again and tell them to say they need to talk to the doctor. He could decide to get you in sooner."
"In the mean time, can I go ahead and get an appointment on the books so it doesn't get later?"
"Sure. If you'll come in at 8:00 am, I can get you in the end of May."
(This was an improvement and I could have lived with this if necessary.)
"I'll come in any time you can get me! I'll take whatever you've got." (Here comes the good part!!)
"Oh, Angela! Could you come in TOMORROW? We just had a new patient cancellation." (God really taking care of me #6)
(Now I'm crying because I'm so thankful!)

So I saw the great doctor, that was supposed to take 3 months to get in, the next day. The test that the kooky doctor had ordered wouldn't have helped determine if my thyroid was cancerous or not. Even if we wanted to do the test, the diet wasn't necessary which confirmed my decision that she was not the doctor I needed. The new doctor said that my thyroid was enlarged. He could feel the lump. Since the biopsy didn't work, the only way to know if it was cancerous or not was to take it out.

Now, this is already long, so I'll try to shorten it up. I got the name of a great surgeon from the thyroid doctor. (God taking care of me #7) He agreed that taking it out was the best way to go to be sure it wasn't cancerous. He would be able to get me into surgery in 3 weeks, April 19.

This was a longer wait than I wanted, but I survived. I got very stressed about it because my thyroid started growing at a rapid pace. I could feel it sticking out of my neck where just a few weeks before I didn't know what they were feeling when I pushed on my neck. I was exhausted because it was blocking my air supply so I was working hard to breathe and to keep breathing at night. I often woke up gasping for air. I got terribly out of breath walking up stairs which was embarassing. I could feel the giant lump in my throat. The lump had been there for months and months, I just didn't realize what it was, but I did know now that it was getting worse.

Finally, April 19th arrived. I got to the hospital early in case my blood sugar dropped again. It didn't this time. I was already getting dehydrated and the nurse didn't know how she was going to get the iv in. She was visably worried! It went in on the first try. (It had taken 4 or 5 times when I was in the emergency room a month and a half before). I told her there were lots of people praying for her. She said, "They must be in my fingertips because I did not think that was going in!" (God taking care of me #8)

People from church came and prayed with me. I knew people all over the country were praying. The surgery was harder and took longer than the doctor expected, but it was a success. I could tell the first night that I slept better. I could swallow and realized that my thyroid had been blocking a good 1/3 to 1/2 of my throat.

Two days later, we heard from the surgeon. There was no cancer in my ornery giant thyroid! (God taking care of me #9) Adios, you troublemaker!

Recovery has taken longer than I wanted. Surgery was on Monday. I wanted to be 100% by Friday. Didn't quite make that. But, I could tell I was sleeping. My tired now is recovery tired, not absolutely exhausted like I used to feel. I can walk up the stairs and not get out of breath at all. I took a deep breath the other night and was stunned at how I could feel my whole lungs filled up with air- all the way to the bottom! I can swallow and that giant lump in my throat is gone. My neck has lost weight since the growing gland is gone. I know for sure because people have commented on it! (God taking care of me #9+) My parents were able to stay with me before and after surgery, and during the majority of my three week recovery. (God taking care of me again and again.) I picked up the stomach flu during my weak state, but I think I'm finally getting over it.

I received lots of support through cards, flowers, prayers, facebook prayers, meals, and more. I always knew I was being bathed in prayer 24/7. When I was in pain in the night, I would ask for prayers on facebook, and people would respond. Sorry if that was you. God woke you up so you could pray for me. That was Him taking care of me again.

I have seen both the thyroid doctor and the surgeon. They are both happy with my progress. My scar will soon fade into the crease of my neck and won't be as noticible as it is now. I take thyroid supplement medicine everyday. Once we get that regulated to the exact dose I need, I won't see the thyroid doctor anymore.

I am excited to be back to work! I can hardly wait to see all of my leaders and kids who prayed for me so I can thank them in person. Life with a wiener dog is getting back to normal, and normal will be better than it had been in months.

I don't mind the scar as much as I thought I would. I was nervous about it. (When your thyroid is messed up, nervousness and anxiety go through the roof!) It looks a lot better than it did right after surgery when my whole neck was bruised and purple. But, when I see it in the mirror, it's a reminder that God is right here with me. He provided someone who would look into the enlarged gland. He provided phenomenal doctors. He answered our prayers that my thyroid would not be cancerous. He was with the surgeon who removed it. He provided friends who would offer support. Lots of support.

So, if we see each other in person, it's okay if you want to look at my neck. It's my reminder. It can be yours too. Because I know if He is here with me, (and He was. I have proof!) He is there with you, as well.


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness. I can't believe what all you went through. Glad it's all worked out now and you're feeling better.

Hey, and did you notice I'm your first fan! How 'bout that!

Patrice said...

I am so glad you are OK. That must have been an awful time not knowing what was going on in there! Good Reddens and now you can get on with the Living Stuff. Glad to have you on VC_Rocks

Anonymous said...

Its been more than 7 months for your operation. How have you been so far ? Have they finally got to how much thyroxine you need ? Tell me something, have they recommended any antianxiety/antidepressents to you ? Why I ask ? Coz My thyroid gland selfdestructed soon after my third caesarian. After which I was taking eltroxine. What I did not realize is that, I was getting more and more irritated, angry, restless and generally upset most of the time. When I consulted my endrocologist, he said it was expected. Later, one of my kind neigbours who had gone thru something similar asked me to ask the doctor for antidepressents. Honestly, although my doc was reluctant, I insisted and have been on them since. With 3 young children and an entire household to care for, very few people realize how much stress we take on. I am much better and much less bitter with my boy. A part of what the thyroid controls is our moods and with it not there or not working, we need to have suppliments to help that too. Sorry this message got long :)

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