When I had my surgery in September, one of the parathyroid glands that was hyperactive was embedded in my thyroid. In order to remove it, half of my thyroid had to come out. Damage of any kind to my thyroid, whether intentional or not, was a major concern for me when this started, because it’s easy to slip into hypothyroidism. I was told before and after surgery, that being an otherwise healthy, young individual, the remaining half of my thyroid would likely kick in and I wouldn’t need any sort of hormonal supplement.
A month after surgery, I had my blood work done to see the status of a) my hyperparathyroidism and b) my now halved thyroid. The last parathyroid was doing fantastic – the little bugger picked right up, and my PTH and calcium levels were normal. My calcium was even a tiny bit high, and I was allowed to drop to one calcium supplement a day instead of the three I was supposed to be taking (though I had already dropped to two on my own gut). My TSH levels were at the high end of normal—4.5—when prior to surgery they had always been in the 1.5 range.
Because I had also put on weight (a symptom of hypothyroidism), my endo suggested I begin a low dose of hormone supplement. I declined. Although my surgeon said that my thyroid should kick in within 6 weeks of the surgery, I’ve also been told that the swelling in my throat and vocal issues may not completely disappear for a full six months after surgery. If that’s the case, then in my opinion my body is still healing and the thyroid may simply be taking its time. In addition, I have PCOS. That means that with the amount of sugary goodness that I was eating post-surgery and the lack of exercise, I was bound to put on weight. In fact, I was surprised it wasn’t more than it turned out to be.
Thankfully, my endo is not one of those doctors who gets to be pushy. She understood my concerns about lifelong supplements, and let me go with paperwork to have my blood retested four weeks later, and the warning to call her if I should experience heavy fatigue or any of the other major symptoms of hypothyroidism. So far, I’ve experienced fatigue. But that’s nothing new to me – my fatigue was my biggest concern regarding the hyperparathyroidism. Following surgery, I assumed my tiredness was to do with a multitude of things ranging from the obvious recovery, to the two colds I’ve had, to the fact that I’m a stressed graduate student. I’m not really ready yet to accept that it may be due to a hypoactive thyroid.
I went to the hospital on Tuesday to have my blood retested, and checked the results online yesterday. My PTH is still beautiful and indicates a successful parathyroid surgery. My TSH, though it hasn’t gotten worse, hasn’t really gotten any better. It measured at 4.49. My FT4 came in at 0.9, which I guess is low, also not a great sign.
My endo left me a message about the results and said that she would recommend starting treatment, but only if I’m suffering through symptoms. I have to see her again in February, and I’ve decided to wait until then to make a decision. Right now, I’m tired, but it’s not as though I can’t get out of bed; a lot of what I’m feeling could easily be stress and a very simple worn out feeling from all that’s transpired. My winter break start next week and I’m heading back to Ireland for the whole six weeks. Some downtime, away, will give me a better idea of what state I’m in.
That said, I had been considering a grain-free lifestyle to accommodate the PCOS, and from what I understand it’s beneficial for a hypoactive thyroid as well. Many people who don’t like the idea of a synthetic treatment have found that it can make a big difference for them. I think that will be more difficult while I’m away, but I’ll make baby steps and then perhaps launch into it when I return and see where it gets me. If it does nothing for my thyroid, at least I’ll know it’s doing something for the rest of me.
Here’s to 2013 and what I hope will be a better year health-wise!