Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hashi's and Me: my experience with a thyroid disease (part 1)

I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an incurable autoimmune disease that involves the thyroid gland. In a series of 3 posts, I am going to detail my experience with this disease to date. It is my hope to raise awareness and understanding of the disease, as well as provide a bit of support to fellow sufferers. I am not an expert or a medical practitioner; I am simply a person who is trying to live with this disease.

Part 1 covers the When: the timeline of my diagnosis.
Part 2 covers the What: definitions, descriptions, and symptoms.
Part 3 will cover the How: resources I have used and methods of maintenance I have attempted.

When was I diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?

My mother suffers from a Hypothyroid, so in a way I have been awaiting the day a doctor would inform me I had an issue with my thyroid. In hindsight, I may have been showing symptoms years prior to my diagnosis, but as I will cover in the What, the symptoms all seem disconnected so it can be easy to miss that they all add up to something.

JUNE 2006
I was 5 months postpartum from my first son when I went to the doc for a sinus infection. As she was checking my adrenal glands, she noticed that my thyroid was enlarged. I hadn't even noticed. She brought me a mirror and told me to swallow so I could clearly see it. Of course, I had no frame of reference for what size it should be, but if she said it was enlarged it must be.

I went for blood-work and an ultrasound. The blood-work showed elevated thyroid levels and the ultrasound confirmed the enlarged and enflamed thyroid. My doc diagnosed Hypothyroid and immediately put me on Synthroid. Thus began the series of checking my blood-work every 6 weeks to make sure we had the right level. Once my thyroid levels were stabilized and my thyroid shrunk to normal size, I only had blood-work every 6 months... pretty standard for treatment by a general practitioner.

My doc noticed that yet again my thyroid was enlarged even though my levels were stable. So she sent me to an endocrinologist. My endo requested the ultrasound and blood-work. She noticed the levels were higher than she preferred for treatment so we adjusted the Synthroid. She also noticed very small nodules on my thyroid. Due to the size of the nodules, we decided to "observe" them for growth before doing any type of biopsy or surgery. This observation which involved yearly ultrasounds in addition to the bi-annual blood-work.

My endo was concerned that the nodules were consistently growing and ordered a biopsy. Thankfully, the biopsy came back benign, so we returned to the observation treatment method. At this point, my endo changed the diagnosis to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which did not change the treatment method... instead it has changed how I treat myself through diet, supplements, and health choices since I now understand better what is going on regarding my thyroid. Treatment is still a daily struggle, as I will outline in part 3.

In part 2, I will cover What the disease is, including definitions, symptoms, and common issues regarding treatment of the disease.

I would love to hear your stories! Leave a comment with your diagnosis story and how long you have walked this path.

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