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ask: Why am I feeling bad after thyroid surgery?

By Anonymous March 5, 2009 - 12:45pm
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I had my left thyroid removed in December, 2008 because of a nodule. It was benign.
All my TSH levels are in normal range. I take 50mcgs. of Synthroid daily.

I suffer from severe depression. I am on 60 mgs of Cymbalta daily.

I am still feeling miserable. I am extremely tired, even more so since the surgery. I sleep 10+ hours daily and I am STILL tired. I have absolutely NO energy to do anything. Just getting dressed is an effort!

I am in need of some answers as to why I am still feeling so tired. My get up and go has "gone up and went."

Please, please help...I don't know what to do. Any information you provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

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EmpowHER Guest

Good Morning everyone.
I had a total thyroidectomy 4 months ago and I am still struggling with energy levels.I fake it when I have to and then I flatline for a week or so after a big job.I am no way what I used to be and I go to bed at 9 or 10 and 8 last night.Thank God my 14 year old does all the garbage and heavy lifting for me. Anyway for anyone trying to bounce back ,the best thing I did was to cut out all carbs and sugar.Coffee I cut out and added back and it has made me more tired but it is such a pleasure.
Once I cut out sugar and carbs and rice and corn the results in my energy was almost immediate and I really slimmed down in a nice way not a stringy way.(I am 55 or so).Several months later I am still tired but functioning and I really wish I had more energy but that initially improvement in energy was so intense I will never include carbs as a regular part of my diet again.I have read that Hashimotos (which I found out I had after the surgery) is vastly improved if carbs are immediately cut out of the diet.

November 12, 2015 - 6:45am

Most people do not understand what it is like to be on thyroid hormones, and assume since you are replacing it that you should just " be back to normal". I thought I would share my analogy that I give my patients when we discuss thyroid issues, I case it helps someone else explain their fatigue/memory fog/ disinterest better.
Pretend your body is a high end motor vehicle like a Lamborghini that requires the 93 or higher gasoline to run. This is the kind of gasoline your body can make-93 high octane. Now if you are hypothyroid (normals tsh range 0.5-4.5 and your tsh is on the high end of this range, think sub clinical hypothyroidism. meaning you do not make enough thyroid hormone for your body but in the law of averages (ranges) you are still within normal limits. we measure TSH -thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It has an inverse relationship with the gland. Ie a high tsh means you are stimulating your thyroid to make more. So if you do not make enough thyroid then you must replace it with a pill. Seems logical right? Ok so here is the rest of the analogy. You require a specific amount of thyroid to function in your body, you replace with synthroid (brand ) ..this is the equivelant of 91 gasoline not the 93 your body expected to get. So yea you function but 91 and 93 are not quite the same so you are more susceptible to sleeping time changes, weight gain, depression etc. and if your insurance company has put you on the cheaper alternative of levy thyroxine then it's like putting 87 gasoline into a car requiring 93. All the studies have been on brand synthroid, while the generics use different fillers to make the pills (can be metro lied differently), do not have the same amount of thyroid hormone (could be 5-10% difference between one pill and the next, generally have a lower efficacy rate.
Recap: thyroid fro your gland ,Rams 93 gas in a 93 requiring car. Synthroid is like 91 in a 93 reqiuring car, and generic is 87 gas in a 93 gasoline requiring sedan. This is why if you supplement thyroid you can still feel crappy. So take home is that your own hormone is best, then brand (request this if you are generic and not feeling 100%) then generic. Make sure you are waiting at least an hour before ingesting any food/drink/ proteins. If you can't get brand then try different generic manufacturers until you find a pill that works best for you. Everyone metabolizes differently and each company has their own fillers, etc to for, the pill.
Now if you have also had a total Thyroidectomy - as I have - you are now stuck in your beautiful body/Lamborghini in third gear. When your body is in an acute stress or infection, etc you need to be able to shift into higher gear...you can't because you take the same dose each day of the wrong kind of gas (87 or 91 when you need 93!) and when you don't need the extra gas ...guess what you are on the same dose of the wrong gas for your body/car. This is why we tend to take longer to recover from scedule changes, infections, stressors. We are in the wrong gear with the wrong gas. Yea we move, but not like we are designed too.
Some people asked what happens if you miss a dose...you can but it is not recommended. We can keep about 3-4 days worth of hormone stored I our gland or in blood stream (harder with total thyroidectomy) however, the longer you go without the thyroid replacement the higher risk you have of a condition called myxedema coma. This is when you become severely hypothyroid .. I have had patients come in with a tsh of 110 and crump on me. Your body shuts down, your heart rate brady's down, facial swelling, etc. this condition once diagnosed and even with IV synthroid/glucocorticoids/vented in the icu has over a 50% mortality rate. Bad news.
Depression is common in hypothyroid patients. I have used and recommended a supplement by Thorne pharmaceuticals called deproloft with great success. Now remember every person is different. What works for one person may not work for the next.
Also please keep that in mind with lab values and make sure your clinician is treating you and not the lab values! I personally never had a TSH above 6.6 even with the cancer. Most clinicians would look at the number and not think it very significant at all. For me it was devastating to my ability to function. Even at a TSH of 5.5 (normal at that time- ranges were higher back then) I gained 60 pounds, slept easily 18 hours a day, etc. so each person is different and sometimes you need to remind the doctor of that. And make sure they are testing your t3 (active form, free and bound) and your free t4 ( inactive form) plus the thyroglobulin proteins etc if you aren't feeling right. Sometimes you need to be on a combination of t4 and t3. Sythroid is t4.
So 1) use brand name if possible
2) find where in the ranges you feel best and treat the symptoms not the numbers
3) depression, try the deproloft (Amazon), seasonal affective light therapy, psychotherapy, weighted blankets (google it) , eat healthy foods (cut out the high fructose corn syrups, etc) and exercise. Be aware that ssri/snri antidepressants can be very very difficult to get off of. So if you are out on one please plan on how you are going to taper off- I took six months to get off mine after being placed on one 12 years ago! And I still get discontinuation symptoms.
4) don't miss pills.
Hope this helps!

October 6, 2015 - 8:03pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Drhoffy)

Thank you for this.I have had my thyroid removed and I have flat lined even on a 175mmg of Levothyroxin.I will switch to synthroid right away and I will keep a diary of how I feel relative to my t3 t4 levels.I will also check thyroglobulin proteins. All I want to do is sleep or lie around in the sun.The only thing that gave me slightly more energy was cutting out carbs completely and doing an autoimune paleo diet but now all that meat is making me feel heavy.I do tons of aqua fit but it is a huge effort.I want to be zesty again!

November 12, 2015 - 6:29am
EmpowHER Guest

I had left thyroid and large hurthle cell nodule (benign) removed a month ago. I have been feeling absolutely miserable since. Little sleep at night, tired most of day, memory problems, fogginess feeling. My post op blood work was normal., endo will repeat in 4 more weeks. I can't take this feeling much longer. Has anyone had same? Did levels change 8 weeks out? One Doc mentioned the cause may be a post anesthesia reaction. Has anyone had that happen? If so, how long did it last.
Thanks for any input, I'm not allowed to return to work til this clears up and no I'm not crazy. I hope

August 11, 2015 - 6:32pm

Hi there. Had a TT in March 2015. At first I wasn't exhausted at 150 mg and blood test showed slightly hyper. Now that n 137 and exhausted and feeling foggy with bad headaches. Talked to a gal this past weekend that gained 60 pounds after her TT. She told me gluten free was the key. Just bought my first round of food and hoping to make a difference. Going to call the endo tomorrow to get back on 150. One thing I have learned is you have to be proactive in getting your life back. I am determined to keep the weight off and find a full nights sleep. Hang in there all of you!

May 28, 2015 - 9:28pm
EmpowHER Guest

I had my thyroid taken out 5 years ago still suffering NO ENERGY..getting really frustrated cant even to every day life things..TSH levels are all normal...I also suffer from depression and axiety all due to this...have beat cancer twice in the last 5 years...I need some help here..Vitamns dont any more :(work.anti depressants dont work,I am at my wits end here dont want to go on...so tired of being tired of not beong a normal person

May 1, 2015 - 12:16pm
Missyxray (reply to Anonymous)

I feel so bad for you. I had subtotal thyroidectomy when I was in my 20's & bounced right back. Now a mom of two I had a total for an adenoma, papillary, and papillary with follicular variant. I had the iodine-131 & am trying to stabilize everything, but two months out I feel it's an impossibility. I lost my job of 16 years over this, talk about adding insult to injury. They fired me 10 days before my known cancer surgery, A HOSPITAL. I just got married, #2 about 2 months ago and don't know how to live anymore. My mom has become my kids mother because I can't be out of bed for more than 10 minutes. I am home all day alone & don't know what to do. Any suggestions would be of utmost help. I have great insurance, I was thinking home health & in home physical therapy? Thanks!

September 7, 2015 - 10:04pm
Susan Cody HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anon

Thank you for your post and I'm sorry you're going through so much, even five years after surgery. 

Would a support group help you? Or seeing a therapist?

I think it's also a good idea to talk to your doctor about going further with your physical aliments and see if there is a specialist that can help you in that respect. 


May 12, 2015 - 5:19am
EmpowHER Guest

I had the same problem and had thyroid removed in August 2014 . I've been on synthroid ever since , started @ Low dose, then .150 , .175 & 200. Went back to .175 Now on .175 on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. And .150 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. All due to feeling bad, anxiety, and depression. All TSH test showed within normal range, still feel like crap . I don't know the answer, but getting disgusted with not feeling good all the time.

March 16, 2015 - 10:49am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Everyone,
I am confused on what I should do....I need a little help making my decision. I have a benign nodule on my left thyroid lobe. My food is getting a little hard to swallow and I'm getting a little bit of reflux. It's a little bothersome, I always feel something stuck in my throat and you can see the goiter. I was thinking of getting my thyroid removed but after reading some of your post I got scared of the post-op symptoms. Should I do it or not? Thank you in advance.

March 10, 2015 - 7:58pm
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