Lately, what has struck me again and again is how many young, young women are coming to me and telling me about how they had to have a significant portion of their thyroids removed.
In addition, many other women of varying ages have either written or called me to tell me about their thyroid conditions. So many women are suffering from thyroid disorders that it got me to thinking—what on Earth is going on here? Why are we suddenly becoming a nation filled with people who are missing half or more of the important gland inside our necks?
After mulling this over for awhile, my intuitive side kicked in. Maybe it was the fact that I was just in for some dental work and got X-rays taken, or maybe it was some inner voice talking to me. But suddenly it hit me how often we zap our neck area with radiation.
Think about it—when you go in for your dental check up and the technician preps you for your X-rays, he or she always drapes one of those funky heavy lead aprons over your chest, right? But your neck is still exposed.
And suppose you break your toe or what-have-you and end up in Urgent Care getting another X-ray. Again, the apron might come out to shield your chest, but your precious thyroid is never covered. And then there’s the annual mammogram that I hope you are getting if you’re over 40, and maybe the CT scan of your sinuses that keep acting up, and wham—before you know it, your thyroid has been exposed to radiation maybe half a dozen times in just one year.
So one day, just for hoots, I asked the technician who was prepping me for a dental X-ray if she had anything that could be used to protect my thyroid from radiation.
I about fell off my chair when she instantly replied “oh yeah, we have something for that,” and proceeded to pull out a second smaller cover that would go around my neck.
When I asked her in a very nice way why she didn’t always use the second cover on her patients, she replied “we really don’t use it unless people ask for it.”
Again, as nicely as possible, I asked “how can patients ask for it if they don’t know you have it?”
At this point, she was starting to look at me like I had 3 heads, but she was very sweet about it and apologized as she fitted the additional shield around my neck, explaining that it didn’t fit very well.
“That’s okay,” I assured her, “it doesn’t have to fit well, it just has to cover my thyroid.”
Interestingly, even after all of this, she never asked me “do you have a thyroid problem?”
So the next time you go in for an X-ray or scan or anything involving radiation, please ask about the second cover for your thyroid. This is just another case where we need to advocate for ourselves. It just sends me to the moon when I think about how many times I’ve been X-rayed while that second cover sat in a drawer.
Have you ever had your neck covered while getting X-rays? Has anyone ever asked you if you have a thyroid disorder when you are having any type of radiation? I’ve shared my thyroid experiences—please share yours with me!
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