Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Thyroid Battery Part 2 - A Day at the Endocrinologist Office
After going into Life-Line Screening, they found a 1 cm growth in the right lobe of my thyroid as an "incidental finding" that should be followed up with a physician for. (Told you they rock.) After returning to my physicians office and presenting them with the findings and pictures, I was directed to a local hospital for a "skinny needle aspiration" where a thin needle punctures the growth and draws out cells to check for malignancy.
The results came back after a few days. I was told that the biopsy of the cells drawn showed a 98.9 percent chance of being malignant. They said they wanted to schedule me for surgery to remove my thyroid. Being the question-monger I am (and knowing a little bit about human physiology), I fearfully asked what that meant in the grand scheme of things. My fears were confirmed.
The acting doctor responded, "Well, you will have to be on a drug called Synthroid for the rest of your life to take the place of the missing gland."
"And if I don't?"
"Well...you can't really survive without a thyroid, without the acting hormones replaced, as it governs your heart, adrenals and a host of other intricate functions. That's what Synthroid, or Levothyroxine, is for."
"But the growth is only in one part of my thyroid. Why can't you just cut it out and leave the rest alone? Glands and some organs are known to grow back when severed over time."
"Well, with the threat of cancer, it is always a good idea to remove the total gland. Our medicine has allowed many people to live rich and productive lives without much trouble but an occasional blood panel to check your levels."
"And what if I can't get this 'miraculous' drug in the future? You basically are telling me that if pharmacies ever become unavailable I am doomed to die because of this."
"Well, the possibilities of this ever happening are virtually non-existant. You'll be fiiiiiiine." She patted my shoulder reassuringly.
It didn't help. It sincerely bothered me that I was being told I would have to rely upon a pharmacy for the rest of my life to stay alive. It also bugged the crap out of me that the fact something "wrong" with me was poo-pooed away by some doctors hiding behind "lab results" saying my levels were "normal". This "normal" status was created by some un-seen power that determines what those "levels" should be for everyone.
Going into your physician and saying "Doc, there is something wrong with me," no longer holds water because of "averages" and a giant "bell curve" with statistics from some unseen source. No offense to the statisticians and research compilers that created this new "reality", but I have been in my body my whole life. I know when something is not right.
The last thing that bothered me, was that my father had a pituitary tumor several years prior that messed with his entire being for ages until his eyelid and face finally collapsed sounding the alarm bells. His tumor "infarcted" while undergoing treatment. He eventually had the tumor remnants removed and went on to live a relatively normal life. He was older than me when this happened, however. Bringing up the pituitary history with this current set of doctors was brow-beaten. On to the 2nd opinion.
Couldn't get in to Froedtert Hospital for this issue until 2 months later. Since thyroid cancer is normally one of the "happy" cancers you want to get because it grows so slow, I opted to wait. I did get to see an endocrinologist there, though. He did an MRI of my head and showed me that I have an anomaly in the shape of my pituitary, but this wasn't supported to mean anything by the panels drawn. (Mine is shaped like a small acorn, where most look like kidney beans that hang from a stalk.)
In the next 2 months I underwent a complete soul house-cleaning. I had several rounds of Reiki with a dear, and recently departed friend. I could feel a buzzing and warmth throughout my body as she effortlessly but deep focus placed her energy on my body. She was truly amazing.
I followed up with a two week hiatus in a cottage on the farmlands of Madison, Wisconsin. I worked through Moving Mediatations and impromptu hikes through the field and surrounding woods. The air was warm and sweet. The nights were damp and musky. I do not think I have ever slept so soundly in all my life. Then it came time to return for the second opinion at Froedtert.
I was told that they would try and save at least a part of my Thyroid if possible. The plan was to remove the lobe with the large growth and biopsy it while I was still on the table to determine if it was cancer. If it was malignant, they were obliged to take the whole thing for safety purposes. If it was benign, they would remove the growth and leave me with a functional part. After the surgery, the growth miraculously was benign, and I was left with a little over one third of a functioning thyroid. I still had to take synthroid for years to come to keep my levels straight, but I survived with at least a semblance of my own self to fight another day.
I lived like this for 10 years without much incident. Then November rolled around in 2012. My hair started coming out in clumps after a shower again. Soon after, the heart palpitations began. I wound up in the ER after work one day as it felt like I was about to have a heart attack. My BP had spiked to 152 systolic, but came down gradually back to 110 over a couple hours. I had an average day with no deep stressors or emotions. There was no reason for any of it. The blood work showed "normal". I explained my past experience and family history to an assigned doctor. Here we go again, except this time...so much worse. One would think after 10 years of "medical breakthroughs", this type of thing would get easier to diagnose and treat. Oh, how wrong I was. Let the maze begin.
More to come.