A Bend in the Road – Thyroid Problems
I posted on my Facebook page that I needed to down-size my workload for a small period of time. Really, it is just to take time out for the doctors to find out what is going on with my body.
The past few years it seemed that I was starting to slow down. That comes with age I was told. My aches, pains, being tired, agitation, not sleeping at night and loads of additional problems were of the mental and aging kind. The only real problem might be my plaguing diarrhea. Otherwise, my body was fine.
Last March, I set up an appointment to see my primary doctor, who happened to be out of the office. I said I really wanted to keep the appointment because I had a lingering sore throat, swollen neck glands and I was exhausted. The doctor tested me for mono and for strep throat and sent me home stating all the tests came back normal it was just a virus and it can take months after a virus for my glands to return to normal.
In September, my symptoms kept multiplying in numbers and the glands were still swollen in my neck. I accompanied my husband to a well check at his primary doctor. On the way out the door I pulled my sweatshirt down from my neck and asked do you think I should be worried about this lump in my neck? His primary said, you need to go and have your thyroid tested for sure.
So, I called my primaries office and spoke with his nurse. I explained I needed my primary to order a thyroid test, free t3, free t4 and auto-antibodies for Graves and Hashimoto’s (because they run in our family). I had a large lump in my neck since March, my fingers and toes hurt, I was tired and gaining weight. I would make a follow up after the results were in from the blood test.
I had my blood draw and received a call that said the blood test came back normal. I said I needed to set up an appointment because the lump was not normal and we needed to investigate. My first available appointment was one week out. I took the appointment.
Finally, the day had come. I was told at the front desk that my doctor had a student that was going to do the exam, he would relay the information with the doctor and then if I had questions the doctor would speak with me.
The student and I went over the labs. They took my total thyroid – it was normal. However, when they drew the first labs they did not do the free t3,free t4 or the antibodies as I had requested. The student said that yes, my thyroid was a little swollen. To me, I thought it was overly swollen. I relayed all the information from the year that plagued me and asked the student to reassure me by performing the tests I requested. We already had one case of thyroid cancer and for some odd reason, I felt a deep need to investigate this further because I was having trouble swallowing.
The student walked out and I could clearly hear my doctor and the student reviewing the case. I heard the dreaded, well are you sure she isn’t just being manic? Manic as in Bipolar manic. For many years, I have been told my symptoms are related to my mental health. I am not 100% convinced I am bipolar. I always believed there was an underlying reason, but I was also told that when you are bipolar your mind plays tricks on you. All my symptoms are classic manic symptoms.
After, I heard the doctors speaking in the hallway, I decided to kick off my first sentence with “At this time of year I am normally manic because I am bipolar as you know. However, I am not going through my manic phase I am dragging tired, my fingers and toes hurt, I have a lump in my throat that scares me and it is preventing me from swallowing.” He checked my throat and said yes, you do have a very swollen node in your neck. I will run your blood work with a CBC too. I need you to stay for the blood results and I also would like you to have an ultrasound of the thyroid as well.
My blood test came back that my T3 was very high and neutrophils as well. Which, certainly were reasons for the ultrasound to what kind of growth was taking over my thyroid.
Too little thyroid hormone causes hypothyroidism, which slows down bodily functions and leads to fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and related symptoms.
Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are most often caused by autoimmune diseases. Normally, the immune system produces antibodies that defend the body against foreign substances such as bacteria. In autoimmune diseases, however, the immune system produces “auto-antibodies” that attack the body’s own healthy cells and tissues-in this case, the thyroid. Graves’ disease is the most common cause of autoimmune hyperthyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of autoimmune hypothyroidism. Both Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease are due to an immune attack on the thyroid. In Graves’ disease, the attacking antibodies stimulate thyroid hormone production.
So, now I am taking the next step in my journey. A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.
* As a side note 6 months after having my thyroid removed and being placed on thyroid medication I asked to go off all bipolar meds for a trial period. We all agreed. My condition and how I presented could have been linked to my thyroid and additional circumstances that I was going through emotionally at the time.
* Six Year Update – Almost 6 years after the fact, and still not one manic episode. I sleep again. My heart doesn’t feel in a panic and I feel human. Some excellent councilors were needed to deal with an emotional situation that I never told anyone of. My drive to help. My anger, rage and crying fits were from blaming myself and guilt that was eating me alive. Now, life is bearable. Don’t live with secrets. AND, if nobody believes you. Oh, well. You are better off without them. Believe me. YOU ARE!