I am a recently turned twenty year old who was diagnosed with a hereditary thyroid disorder called Hashimoto's. This disorder, the way it was described to me, goes like this. Your body recognizes your thyroid as an infection rather than your thyroid, and constantly attacks it. Because it's under constant attack, it doesn't work up to par. You will have to take medication to supplement the hormones not being produced, to get up to the correct levels. Over time, your body will have damaged your thyroid more and more, increasing your medication intake as well, and for most people, as far as I know. You will need or have the option to have your thyroid removed eventually. I was diagnosed two years ago. At first my neck seemed swollen, I was gaining weight. I figured it was due to my poor health choices like fast food, etc. Then I began to lose an excessive amount of hair. In the shower, or after my hair was dry; I would ridiculously shed... It began to worry me, so my mom having been in the medical field as a profession, suggested I might have a thyroid issue. She researched for me what we had heard to be the best endocrinologist in Arizona, Dr. Kristina Rudgear. I, like I said, was diagnosed with Hashimotos, and was put on Synthroid (thyroid supplement medication). I started to feel a tiny bit better but not significantly. I did some more asking around and then requested armor (another, more "natural" medication). I began to lose a little weight without changing my diet or routine, just by a reaction from the medication. I think I lost 15-20 pounds? I was less tired, and my hair stopped falling out so much. It didn't GROW back to normal, but at least it wasn't falling out. I have been on that for about a year and a half. About every six months, I would need an ultrasound of my thyroid to see if any nodules (cyst-like things in your thyroid gland) were growing or not. When you have Hashimotos, because of the damage your body can do, it creates a battlefield in your thryoid, making it what is called heterogenous (extremely bumpy), and forms nodules. These grow at an extremely slow rate, and I believe have a 2% chance of being cancerous. Anyway, I got my regular ultrasound, and when I received the results, my doctor was concerned. Apparently two nodules had grown together by my trachea. She decided to do a biopsy, which isn't that painful but for me it was very uncomfortable. It was 3-4 times she would stick a itty-bitty needle in my throat/thyroid into a nodule to obtain some cells. The annoying part? You can't swallow or move for about a minute. Not hard, unless you're thinking about not being able to, while someone is wiggling a needle in a sensitive spot. The results from the biopsy came back benign(non-cancerous) but I would have to watch the nodules closely to make sure no other risks arose. My doctor had mentioned possibly taking out my entire thyroid, because despite the fact I was only 19 at the time, and had only been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder not even two years before-hand, my body had done extensive damage to my thyroid. When considering thyroid surgery you have three options as I was told. First, you continue as normal, meaning every six months you get an ultrasound, which means the extra visits and costs and time and worrying about the results or if a nodule grew, if another risk came up, if everything was okay, etc. And then possibly having biopsies more often as well, if needed. At almost twenty, I decided I didn't want all of that. I didn't want worrying more than needed or added stress, and costs and time out of my life to MAYBE have an issue with my thyroid. I was already having trouble swallowing because part of the symptoms is your thyroid becomes swollen like any other "infected" gland in your body. I was still tired, despite the medication, and I didn't want to worry about this for the rest of my life, like increasing my medications over time, etc. I decided, well since I'll probably have to take it out eventually, I might as well do it now while I'm young, I can heal faster and reap the benefits longer. So I opted for surgery. My doctors agreed, though shocked because most 19/20 year olds don't take that route. So began the process. I was given two options for surgeons. I can't remember the other option but it was a company not a person, and the other (whom I chose) was Dr. Jeffrey Dyer. MOST AMAZING DOCTOR SO FAR THAT I'VE MET!!!! The moment I met him, he was so informed which made me feel comfortable and trusting that he knew his stuff and he was SO friendly! He thoroughly discussed my options, risks, concerns and such. He explained to me how Armor was considered "natural" because it's pig hormone cells so by technical definition you can get away with that, but gross. So thankfully I was having surgery and I would be/ am on a different medication. Anyway, if you so chose to remove your thyroid and you are in Arizona, look him up, he's incredible! Back to the options, option two: have part or one side of your thyroid removed, obviously the side/part that has cancerous nodules, etc. As I was told, this isn't as common, because if there were cancerous nodules in one side, most likely even if you remove one side, it's a matter of time before they show up in the other side, which means two surgeries, costs, time... you get the point. Then there's option 3: my option, full removal of the thyroid. I opted this, because as previously stated, I didn't like option one, option two seemed pointless and I said "go big or go home," take it all out. The main risks to this procedure other than the smalls risks of surgery ( I say small because it's a simple procedure), were if you don't manage your hormones correctly (like taking your supplements/ medication, regular check-ups with the doctor, etc. ) you could gain excessive weight and/or lose some of your hair. The key words: manage your hormones CORRECTLY. Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page and your levels are correct, as close as possible to what they need to be, not just "in the range" but the best possible place in that range. The other risk. Most people get their thyroid out between 50-70 from what I was told. The longer you're on this medication, the higher risk you have, especially as a woman, of developing osteoporosis later on in life. The solution? Take the proper calcium supplements. Along with the thyroid and calcium supplements, eat healthy. Meaning, preferably organic, fresh/raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meat (red meat not often), limit if not eliminate dairy, sugars, fats.. have a good workout regimen, get a good amount of sleep, take proper vitamins, and try to limit your stress levels- the obvious things everyone needs. If you do that, the main, or basically only three risks won't be risks to you. So last week, I had my surgery. When I walked in, the front desk, to the lady who managed my registration to the two nurses who did my pre-op stuff, to the nurses who worked beside my surgeon- every single one of them commented on how he was the nicest doctor and most professional, amazing at his work, extremely knowledgable and genuinely caring. He even prays before he performs surgery, and for those whom are religious, that is such a comfort! My surgeon made a one-inch incision in my throat and took both sides of my thyroid out. Apparently,my disorder has progressed more than he thought. Not only had my body attacked my thyroid so much, it had completely stopped working. At twenty, my thyroid basically shut down! That's insane... It was hard and what they call "cork-like", it wasn't producing any hormones anymore, so thankfully I made the right choice by taking it completely out. Another thing they did in the surgery was you have four para-thyroids which kind of stick to the back of your thyroids, two on each side of the thyroid. You need two to survive, they manage your calcium levels. One of the four wasn't working, it was living off the blood supply of the thyroid rather than its own. So my doctor took it out (you have to "peel" the para-thyroids away from your thyroid) and cut it up in smaller pieces and re-inserted them back into the muscle in the side of my neck. The amazing part is your parathyroids are one of the few organs in your body that can re-grow itself, so over time, my parathyroid will regrow and reproduce calcium, then all four will work! The hospital (I went to Scottsdale North on Shea) keeps you over night to check to see if your calcium and other levels are okay, and such. They say it's about a three to four day recovery, for me I was off the pain meds in three days, but I was still a little in pain, it was just easier to bare then. The main issue is mobility of your neck. You can't move much. The first day in the hospital I couldn't talk much, it hurt like hell to cough or yawn, of course. But it eases up like anything else over time, and it helps you try to move it after the first day or so. They said that from two to six weeks you'll feel like there's something in your throat ranging from a pill to a baseball, but that's normal, and after that it'll go away and you'll feel all better, a millions times better than when you had your thyroid. I am technically still going through recovery so I'm not sure how my body will react to the new medications and all. My neck is still stiff a little, hurts a little to yawn, but I think thats more because of the reinsertion of my para-thyroid in my neck muscle? They put me on a medication called levothyroxin, not sure if that will change? My first check-up is tomorrow morning, so I will ask all my questions then. I have great hopes that this was the best decision and that life will be a lot easier. I can handle the baseball feeling in my throat (pill size right now) for the max of six weeks, and the weak possibilities of obesity, hair loss, and osteoporosis, because I feel it'll be worth it in the long run. I of course will still have to get check ups but way less often. like once or so a year, hopefully wont have to re-adjust my meds much or at all considering I've stopped growing. my body should chemically feel like I have a perfectly working thyroid, despite the fact that physically it's not there. I should be better health wise, especially if I stick to the rules I stated earlier. My thyroid is one less thing I have to worry about for the future. I won't worry about risks, because thee's no thyroid to have a risk for, and so on and so forth. I'm really happy I chose to remove it when I did, and I hope the future keeps having smooth sailing!
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