14 June 2011

KtMac Confessions: Buh-Bye Thyroid

By the time you read this, I'll be in the recovery room awaiting transfer to a hospital bed for the night. 


Simple. My thyroid is being removed early this morning in a procedure called a thyroidectomy. The thyroid is a control center for your body's hormones and is found in your throat. If the thyroid functions perfectly, you never know it even exists.

Most people develop issues with their thyroid in their late 20's or early 30's, but me, medical marvel I am, was being watched for thyroid issues when I was in middle school. I had a goiter (which is an enlarged, visible thyroid - most people with "fat" necks usually have a goiter) that the doctor monitored via blood draws and measurements and tried to treat via medication. Other than taking a pill every morning and getting extra blood draws at my annual physicals, it wasn't an issue. 

A few years ago, I saw a new doctor who ordered a routine ultrasound to be on the safe side since he was uncomfortable with the large size of my thyroid. Based on the ultrasound, I was referred to a specialist who took me off the medication and ordered biopsies of certain nodules in my thyroid. When nodules are above a certain size, they require annual ultrasounds and biopsies. The biopsies all came back benign fortunately and my only concern was the pain and hassle of annual biopsies (and I confess, those biopsies are painful).  

When I moved to Chicago, I was overdue for another ultrasound and biopsy, so I met with a new specialist, but the ultrasound results indicated that at least one nodule had grown substantially over the last year. While the biopsy still came back benign, it was time to talk with the doctor. 

I had a choice - I could continue to monitor the growth of the nodules via biannual biopsies and ultrasounds or I could have the thyroid removed. Based on my history and the longevity of the issue, combined with the fairly rapid growth in the past year, my decision was to have the thyroid removed. My thyroid is growing, and while I've been lucky thus far, in the future, it may grow too big to breathe or swallow comfortably if left untreated. In my case, the likelihood of thyroid cancer is very slight, but still exists. So to be safe and prevent future issues, I've opted to take advantage of being under excellent medical care with great insurance, with an amazingly supportive work environment, and an awesome, caring boyfriend and have the surgery done now. In no way, shape, or form is my experience intended to replace consultation with a doctor. If you have issues with your thyroid or suspect you have issues, please talk to a doctor. 

In the grand scheme of surgeries I've had in my lifetime, today's surgery is a very minor procedure - it will take an hour, hour and a half tops. I am under the care of Chicago's most prominent ENT surgeon who has done hundreds, if not thousands, of thyroidectomies. The pain from the surgery is minimal and physical pain should be nonexistent within 24 hours. There will be a lovely scar that will take time to heal and fade. However, because the body goes through such a shock in losing the thyroid, an overnight hospital stay is mandatory, which is annoying, but not all that bad for such a surgery veteran as myself. Total expected recovery is two weeks, and most of that will be extreme exhaustion as my body readapts to not having the thyroid control much needed hormones. 

So, please don't worry about me. I'm tough stuff and I've had far worse surgeries and recovery times. But, if you have or suspect you have any potential thyroid issues, I urge you to see a doctor. I'll keep you posted on my recovery. I've got Mama Mac here to keep me company in the hospital and Joe has promised he's going to spoil me healthy with all the slurpees and Dairy Queen I want. In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts and enjoy my pretty Scotland pictures!


Hails said...

best of luck! :)

Shareece said...

Good luck, KT Mac! :o)