I have been struggling with a condition called Hypothyroidism since 2005. This happens when your Thyroid gland, located in the lower front of your neck, does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This can cause symptoms including fatigue, muscle pain, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, constipation, dry skin and scalp, decreased libido, irregular menstrual cycle and more. Thyroid hormone is essential for the optimal function of every system in the body.
Over the past few years, I had been receiving treatment from the military hospital system, but the majority of my symptoms were dismissed because my lab test for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) fell within the normal range whether I was on thyroid medication or not. After I had my son, they dismissed my symptoms as Post Partum Depression (PPD) and refused to give me thyroid medication at all. For the next year and a half I struggled to stay ahead of the exhaustion and the weight gain – even while training for my first full marathon.
Since moving to our current duty station, I have been able to see a new Primary Care Provider who has been supportive and thorough. During my first appointment with her she patiently listened to me and my concerns. She ordered a complete set of Thyroid labs to include not only TSH, but also the Thyroid hormones T3 and T4, thyroid antibodies, and even a cortisol test, to get a complete picture of my thyroid function. More importantly though, she also ordered a Thyroid Ultrasound to check for nodules, cysts, or tumors. She said that there was probably no issue, but “shame on me if I miss it!”
On June 2, I went for the ultrasound and they discovered a large growth on the right lobe of my Thyroid. It measured 2.6 cm long and 1.5 cm wide with coarse calcification. Based on those markers of size and the calcification, she refered me to an Endocrinologist to get a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy. I immediately called the Endo and set up the first available appointment that they had – July 10!
It was hard waiting a month to get more answers. Especially when researching more about Thyroid nodules and cancer.
After the long wait, my husband and I made the hour drive to the specialist in the hopes if getting more answers.The Endo went over my family history including all relatives with Thyroid dysfunction. She then explained more about the biopsy process. There are three results that can come from a Thyroid FNA. Malignancy, benign, or inconclusive. Malignancy indicates Thyroid cancer and the standard of care is either a full or partial thyroidectomy followed by radiation treatment. Inconclusive results would warrant additional FNA to try to get a better tissue sample, and monitoring the growth of the nodule. It can lead to a partial or full thyroidectomy. A benign result would mean that they would watch the growth every six months to a year to ensure that it isn’t growing rapidly or changing. After explaining all of this, she went on to explain that she was in a new office and did not have the equipment there to do an FNA. So after a month of waiting, I had to call and make an appointment at a different branch of the practice to get the biopsy. The soonest that they can see me is August 14, over two and a half months after they originally found the growth.
As we continue to wait for answers, the endocrinologist is keeping a close eye on all of my Thyroid hormone levels.
For as upset and scared as I was when the nodule was discovered, it was also very validating to me. After years of having doctors dismiss my concerns regarding my health, there was finally proof that there was a source of my symptoms and they could no longer be dismissed and ignored.
We are staying as optimistic as possible and we are praying for healing every day. I will continue to post updates as we find out more.