Thyroid regulating–14 weeks post-surgery

This week I met with two endocrinologists to begin regulation of my thyroid medication. I mentioned in the last post that I was concerned that I had reached a “new normal,” but this week gave me hope.

My blood work showed my TSH level at 3.389, which as I said before, is in the normal range of 0.5-5.0. When I received these results before going to the endocrinologists, I was very discouraged, because I still don’t feel “normal,” and I have several hypothyroid symptoms that remain. I didn’t think they would increase my medication like I’ve been praying for. Increased medication = more energy, higher metabolism, etc.

Below is a chart that explains a little bit better the difference between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Since I’ve had my thyroid removed, I was immediately hypothyroid and regulating medication is trying to get to the norm which is between hypo and hyper.



What I learned this week, however, is that even though this TSH level would be acceptable for anyone with good health history, it is not acceptable for anyone with thyroid cancer. The goal with any thyroid cancer patient is to get the TSH as low as possible so that the thyroid cells, cancerous or not, are not encouraged to grow. In order to lower a TSH level, thyroid hormone medication must increase. Which means victory! ha 🙂

Endocrinologist 1

I met with the first endocrinologist on Tuesday. I have not had a good experience with this doctor, and I have been seeing him since the day of surgery. Unfortunately, he has always left me feeling like more of an inconvenience than anything else. Every time I go to see him, I have to tell him why I am there and where we are in the process.

When I unexpectedly was in the hospital for two days because I was having trouble breathing, the hospital told me to see my endocrinologist a couple days after I was released to tell him all that happened and see if he had any input. The office didn’t sense my urgency when I called to make an appointment, and I had to practically beg to have an appointment even five days after I was released. When I went to that appointment, my doctor started with, “so, it looks like I told you we would meet in four weeks, why did you come so early?” He made me feel very foolish for making an appointment with him addressing concerns of breathing difficulty before our next scheduled visit. He finished with, “You’ll be fine.”

This week, he didn’t remember that he had ordered blood work for me to start regulating my thyroid. I had to ask if he got the faxed results, which he somehow misplaced, and then tell him what they were. In any event, he gave me the first glimmer of hope by telling me he would increase my dosage from .125 to .137 mics. I was thankful for any sort of increase because I desperately want my energy back and to be seeing results from going to the gym daily, as opposed to working so hard to maintain the weight I have.

Endocrinologist 2

I had scheduled another endocrinologist appointment for the day after this one, in hopes of finding a doctor that I have a better rapport with and someone who I can trust. I am very happy to say that I had a great appointment with this new doctor, and I will be seeing him from this point on. He intently listened when I told him the hypothyroid symptoms I’m still having (which ideally will be solved with correct dosage) and responded to my concerns with grace.

The best part is that he didn’t believe the increase from .125 to .137 was sufficient for someone who has no thyroid, thyroid cancer and continuing hypothyroidism. So, he increased my dosage up to .150 mics and said he wouldn’t be surprised if I end up getting bumped all the way up to .175. I’m so thankful I chose to seek out another doctor, because this adjustment will be instrumental in getting closer and closer to feeling the way I did before surgery.

While it will take up to six weeks to see the complete effects of having higher medication, just the knowledge that my body is getting more help is giving me hope to press forward. I’ve been reading a lot lately about how God promises to make us new. He doesn’t look at us in shambles and shake his head in disappointment. He draws near, taking our brokenness, our pain, our sorrow and making something new, something beautiful.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”

Isaiah 43:19

14weeks post-surgery

14weeks post-surgery

Two Weeks Post-Surgery.

Tomorrow marks two weeks post-surgery. While the time has past relatively slowly, it is actually pretty hard to believe it’s already been two weeks. Each day there have been small victories in recovery. From removing the dressing, removing the stitches, removing to tape, to being able to lay on my back again, to sleeping in a bed, to being able to shower, to being able to run errands without wanting to fall asleep, to returning to teaching high school percussion.

I’ve been really trying to learn how to rest, which is something I’m not used to. I am so used to being borderline unhealthfully busy and now I am forced to take not just a breather…but to stop. I am also used to exercising daily. Yesterday I “ran” for the first time since surgery (12 days after surgery), and while I was only doing a light jog, my heart rate was between 170-180 bpm the whole time. When I finished, I realized just how much my body still needs to recoup. Don’t worry, I’m not going to try that again for a while…I realize now that there can be severe ramifications to that.

My heart rate is still very elevated from what it normally is. I’ve begun to wear my heart monitor when I’m sitting down, to get an idea of my resting pulse right now. I’m used to my resting pulse being around 60 bpm, because of how active I am. Now, it’s not uncommon for my resting pulse to be around 85 and as soon as I walk from one place to the next, it jumps up to 110-120 at least. I have really been trying to learn how to be physically still. It’s so hard. However, today my resting pulse has been in the upper 70’s, so hopefully in a couple days, I’ll feel safer about running or riding my bike!

This week I starting teaching high school percussion again and it was SO wonderful being back in that element. I truly hope I can inspire these kids and give back to them all that has been given to me over the years.

I meet with my ENT again next Friday for follow up and then meet with my endocrinologist the following Monday to talk about radiation treatment. I’ll be starting radiation in the next few weeks. I’m SO glad my favorite author, Donald Miller just released a new book, so I have good material for the days I’m quarantined for radiation :)!

Thank you ALL for your amazing encouragement and support! I am doing very well, and I am excited to see where this unexpected season of life takes me. I am comforted by Christ daily, and the changing seasons in Chicago–pumpkin spice and crisp air, can’t wait for the leaves to start changing!

Fact of the day: “Thyroid cancer will set a new record in 2012, with 56,460 people newly diagnosed in the United States and more than 200,000 worldwide. Unlike many cancers, thyroid cancer is increasing in incidence, and it’s the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women.” (article)


Photos from my recovery:


Day 4, second day out of the hospital

Day 4, First time going for a short walk in public. Threw on the scarf as to not scare children 😉

Day 5, Mom helping me wash my hair when I wasn’t allowed to get the incision wet.

Day 6, last day of stitches

Day 7, stitches out, tape on, waiting to get blood drawn to see where my calcium levels are.

Day 7, Came home to my apartment for a night and was overwhelmed by love of my roommate and packages in the mail. As a Colts fan, it was pretty bittersweet to receive a new Peyton jersey in orange 🙂

Day 8, driving for the first time since surgery. FIRST DAY that I did not feel nauseous since surgery!

Day 9, first time heading out to meet a friend to hang out–to watch kickoff Sunday football!!

Day 10, Stitches AND tape off. Complete healing commences. You can see fluid still sitting in the center where my thyroid used to be. Still waiting for that and the swelling to go down.

Day 10, I decided it was pretty cool that I now have two “smiles” 😉

Day 11, I can really see that this is healing beautifully now!

Day 12, Redness is really minimal now!

Day 13, It’s still healing very nicely, though I’m starting to get some serious stiffness in the back of my neck from the lack of use of the front muscles of my neck.