I began having problems with my thyroid gland early on in 2005. I noticed that it always felt like there was something in my throat, and eating became more and more difficult. Even though I wasn’t eating as much I began slowly gaining weight. So I started going to the gym… but it didn’t work. I kept gaining, my throat got worse. So I went to the doctor and was sent for blood work, which came back negative for any thyroid dysfunction. My doctor still wasn’t convinced, so she sent me for an ultrasound.
That ultrasound sent me into a truly terrifying place. They found nodules, and those nodules might have been cancerous. So I needed a biopsy. It was the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me. First I had to wait to have it done, and then I had to wait to get the results. The relief I felt when I was told that the nodules were benign cannot be put in to words.
Unfortunately, the nodules were still there no matter how harmless. On top of that, my thyroid gland continued to enlarge. I began seeing and Endocrinologist and she referred me to a surgeon. I had surgery on December 7, 2005. The doctor had planned to remove only half of the thyroid gland. To be honest, I don’t think he wanted to do the surgery at all at first. I was incredibly young to have such a serious procedure, and I think he didn’t believe there was a reason to do a removal because all of my blood work was clear. When I woke up from surgery, he came and told me that he had removed my whole thyroid gland. He then apologized for his original statements and said that he had never seen a thyroid gland so enlarged in a patient my age.
Without a thyroid gland, a lot of things change. Number one on that list is your metabolism. I take medicine every day to replace what my thyroid was supposed to do. It’s not a perfect science though. In the 3-4 months after surgery I gained about 40lbs. Keep in mind, that in the 3-4 months after surgery I noticed this weight gain, and immediately bought a treadmill and began to work hard to get that weight off. At one point I was eating only 1000 calories a day and walking 8 miles. I was also horseback riding 2-3 times per week. I continued to gain weight. I had a doctor that refused to work with me to figure out why this was happening.
When I moved to North Carolina I got a new doctor who was appalled that I hadn’t had blood work done in so long. Apparently post-op thyroid patients are supposed to have their blood tested a lot. I hadn’t had it tested in over 6 months, per my former doctor’s orders. My levels were incredibly screwed up, and the new doctor said that it was very likely this had caused my rapid weight gain. We fixed my levels by adjusting my medication.
Unfortunately, the problem with no thyroid gland is that it’s incredibly easy to gain weight but it is also incredibly difficult to get it off once it’s there. My doctor told me flat out that it was possible I wouldn’t be able to get it all off. It’s just the way my body chemistry is now, she said. I’m unwilling to accept that particular idea.
There was a little while when I was incredibly lax about going to the gym after we got our gym memberships. My back went out again, and then life (as it is prone to doing) reared its ugly head and I just couldn’t find the time or the energy.
But I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’m going to work hard from this point forward. This week I made a sincere effort to eat better, and I succeeded. I went to the gym three times this week, even though I didn’t really want to some days. I biked 7 miles every day.
It’s only a start, and I know I have a lot of work to do before I start seeing any results. I’m even OK with the idea that I might not lose all the weight I’ve gained from the thyroid surgery; I just want to be healthy. For me that means losing 30-40lbs. It’d be nice to lose the 60 or so that the surgery caused me to gain, but for right now my goal is 30-40. I’m the only one that can change me, and I’m going to.