Tag Archives: Weight

525,600 Minutes

11 Aug

Today marks one year since I lost my thyroid, and my cancer. 365 days. 525,500 minutes. How do you measure a thyroidless year?

Before my surgery, I was terrified of gaining 50+ pounds. I was already struggling with reduced energy, and I thought I would become non-functioning. I was afraid I would have a terrible, ugly scar. I thought I was saying goodbye to my fertility. I was worried that my voice would never sound the same. I didn’t want to end up with breathing problems that would prevent me from running. Deep down, I thought they might open me up and find more cancer. I prayed my personality wouldn’t change and I wouldn’t end up with chronic depression. I thought I wouldn’t be a good mother anymore. I thought my marriage might suffer. I was worried about my career. I thought saying goodbye to my thyroid meant saying goodbye to life as I knew it.

I thought I would never be the same. I was right.

My surgery was a piece of cake. The best decision I could have made was choosing an endocrine surgeon who does thyroids all day long. You literally have to squint to see my scar. No complications. No surprises either; he took the cancer out, and it hasn’t spread or returned. My voice sounds exactly the same. I can still sing to Mary before bed, and I can still hold private radio concerts in my car. Just last week, I got to see Coldplay, singing my cancer anthem, up close and personal. No one at the Palace of Auburn Hills was screaming louder than I was.

My surgery was so non-eventful, that I interviewed for a new job just 10 DAYS after my thyroidectomy (wearing a necklace to hide my fresh incision). Despite all odds, they hired me, and I have never been happier in my career. I’m doing something I love, and working with fantastic people.

I can still run. In fact, in May, I ran a 5K a full minute faster than I did before my surgery. My daughters don’t think any differently of me…they still like to run around outside and get really sweaty…”to look like Mom after Zumba.”

Having cancer actually made me slow down and appreciate my beautiful family even more than I did before. It forced me, the ultimate caretaker, to let someone else take care of me. There were times this year when I was overwhelmed by how much I am loved. I don’t think I would have been able to experience that without really letting my husband take the wheel. And if we decide we want to have another baby, we can. At my one-year appointment, my endocrinologist gave that choice back to me.

Over the last year, I’ve struggled to feel like myself. There have been days where I’ve slept 12 hours and still wanted a nap. I take four different vitamin supplements a day to make up for the deficiencies my thyroid left behind. And I can’t lose weight to save my life. One year later, I am 12 pounds heavier, and 25 pounds more than “normal.” I’ve tried to accept it, but I can’t. So I will keep fighting, playing around with my medication, counting calories and exercising. In the meantime, I am actually learning to be happy in my life without being happy with my weight.

So how do you measure a thyroidless year? When I measure the joy in my life against my pain, I came out ahead. I am winning the war. I am surviving. There is light at the end of this tunnel, and I know I will achieve “normal” someday. Maybe next year.

To quote Chris Martin, “You can hurt…hurt me bad. But still I raise the flag.”

I ran two 5Ks this year, and followed up one with a 2K run with Ellie.

Andy and me before the Coldplay concert in August 2012. No scars visible.

Still Bargaining…

21 Feb

Finally! Something to celebrate!

I just got a call from U of M, so I thought I would do a lunch hour post to share some news.

First, my ultrasound showed no abnormalities and my thyroglobulin (cancer tumor marker in the bloodstream) level is still undetectable.

The rest of my numbers are as follows:

  • B12: 490 (normal, and way better than before)
  • Vitamin D: 31 (normal, but could be higher)
  • TSH: 1.55 (I think that’s high – Dr. E likes it)
  • T4: 0.97 (I think that’s low – Dr. E likes it)
  • T3: 2.4 (that’s just about perfect, and that is while taking Cytomel)

So what does all this mean? It means I FINALLY get to go back on 125 mcg of Synthroid. Dr. E wants me to drop the Cytomel, but I begged to stay on it. We’ll see what she says.

OTHER NEWS:

  • I continue to live flour-free, and I think I am happy with the choice. I feel healthier overall, so it’s worth it. I never thought I could win the battle over bread, but I did! I don’t even crave it anymore.
  • I added back my iodine supplement (Iodoral) and started taking Selenium. It’s been 4 days, and I have lost 3 pounds. It’s hard to attribute the weight loss to any one thing, but whatever, I’ll take it. I am researching and closely monitoring my response to iodine, and will post separately about my findings.
  • I am feeling really good. I always forget to reflect on the improvements in my health. My energy level is almost normal, my hair totally stopped falling out and looks normal, my skin is not as dry, and I don’t feel as depressed as I did before. What’s changed? Cytomel? Flour elimination? Added estrogen? The fact that I have been exercising a little bit more? There’s no way to know, so I will just keep doing what I’m doing!

Cheers to being cancer-free, and to a higher dose of Synthroid!

***THIS JUST IN***

 I get to stay on 5 mcg of Cytomel with the new increased dose of 125 mcg Synthroid. It’s what I have been pulling for all along! I am seriously jumping for joy!

The Flourless Experiment

15 Feb

I made it through 21 days of no flour. I incorporated Ezekiel bread into my breakfast. I ate more fruit, vegetables and lean meat. I skipped the quick airport and meeting snacks when I traveled to Florida last week. I even ordered salad at Disneyland. And what were the final results?

-0.8 pounds

That’s right, my initial weight loss kinda rebounded back, and I basically have nothing to show for my suffering. It’s true, I didn’t gain anything over the past three weeks, which is positive. And my digestion, brain fog and energy level have maintained their improvements. But what’s the use if I am still overweight? Today at lunch I ate 4 croutons in my salad and I had some vegetable dumplings. And boy, did I regret it. My stomach ballooned out and I almost fell asleep at my desk at 2:00 p.m. I have ruined my favorite food forever, and I am still fat!

So, here we are in My Journey…

DENIAL: I will be fine. This is the best cancer to get!

ANGER: I am NOT going to be one of those people who get really fat and have permanently hoarse voices!

BARGAINING: Okay, maybe if I try Armour. Or adding Cytomel to my Synthroid. Or giving up flour. Maybe then I can have my old life back.

DEPRESSION: Why do I even bother? Now the best I can hope for is never eating white bread or noodles again and still being overweight! Why did this have to happen to me??

I guess the next step is ACCEPTANCE. But can I go there after I have one more round of bloodwork this Friday? After all, I did start on birth control pills. Maybe the added estrogen is interfering with the thyroid meds. Maybe a magical dose increase will make me normal again?

Oh wait, now I’m back to bargaining.

9 Down…12 To Go?

4 Feb

I have been officially “flourless” for 9 whole days. And as I sit here in my recliner, enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir from Oregon, I gotta tell you…it ain’t that bad!

For the first 3 days, I had an awful headache and felt like I was coming off of drugs. Then in the last few days the fog began to clear. My watch and my rings got a little looser. I’ve started thinking clearly. The only way I could describe it is like putting your glasses on in the morning…the world is suddenly in focus. I can think straight. Oh yeah…now I remember! I used to be smart! I used to be able to get through my work day without feeling confused and overwhelmed! I used to be able to work out and still walk the next day!

I feel pretty good. Some of this might be attributed to the Cytomel finally kicking in. Whatever it is – I’ll take it. The biggest change I have made is the elimination of flour. I replaced my sugary morning cereal with a slice of Ezekiel flourless toast. I still eat rice with my stir fry. I still eat sugar…it’s in my salad dressing and my occasional handful of Hershey’s Kisses.  I don’t even feel that deprived anymore. And believe me, I would tell you if I did.

I was listening to Coldplay’s new album this morning – Mylo Xyloto. Those of you who know me know that Coldplay is my all-time favorite band. And there is nothing I love more than one of their live shows. As I cranked up “Charlie Brown,” I imagined myself at the concert, singing, screaming, jumping around. And in my head, I am my normal-sized, cancer-free self.

Coldplay releases butterfly confetti during In My Place. How thyroid-appropriate!

Tickets go one sale tomorrow for the August 1 concert. And mark my words…I am going to make that vision come true. And if I have to pass on the bread basket for the rest of my life, I’ll do it.

Week 1 Results Recap:

  • Pounds lost – 2
  • Energy level – Good
  • Digestion – MUCH improved! I would even call myself normal!
  • Brain fog – Gone

Stay tuned!

The Difficult Patient

22 Nov

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine’s doctor writes “difficult” in her chart? It’s one of my favorites. And now it is officially my life.

This little Armour Thyroid experiment has been a failure. All my research pointed to Armour as the ultimate answer to my prayers. But in 3 weeks, I have gained 4 more pounds, I am more tired, and I have such bad brain fog that I asked Andy what you call that red thing that you put fires out with. It’s the opposite experience that most people have with Armour. I even tried chewing it up like all the blogs say you should do to increase its absorption. Still I feel worse than I did on Synthroid. My labs are consistent…I should be anxious and losing weight like crazy and having heart palpitations. But I’m not.

Today I heard back from Dr. E’s office. She is happy to switch me back to Synthroid, but this time, I can only have 112 mcg. That’s right…because of my stupid TSH being suppressed and regardless of how I feel, she is REDUCING my hormone dose and then rechecking in January. This is how it sounded in my head:

“Sarah, since you are so difficult and had to play around with your medications, we are going to screw you over and have you get really fat and tired before we help you. That way, it will be our idea and not yours. Merry Christmas!”

I am so ANGRY.

There is really nothing I can do. I can exercise more and eat better, but really, I can’t switch doctors at this point. I haven’t even had my scan yet. So I have to force myself to do what she says and wait it out until January. My family promises to still love me even if I turn into a giant marshmallow. And I am buying a t-shirt that says, “It’s not my fault. It’s my thyroid’s.”

Why are doctors so afraid of a low TSH? Why does that number eclipse my symptoms? Why is a doctor HAPPY to hand out Zoloft, Xanax, Vicodin and Ambien, but won’t aggressively treat a thyroid disease? If you compare the side effect profiles of the drugs, it truly doesn’t add up. My personal opinion is that thyroid patients are labeled as difficult. Our symptoms are too easily misunderstood as whining. And after all, women are supposed to suck it up when it comes to quality of life. We need THREE different billion-dollar erectile dysfunction drugs, but the best we will do for thyroids is what we’ve been doing since 1960.

It’s not just frustrating, it is an outrage. So if you’re a furious thyroid patient who is stumbling upon my blog looking for answers, all I can say is this:

  • Look for support from Facebook groups, blogs, family and friends, but don’t expect your doctor to be your therapist.
  • When you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, be quantitative and try not to be emotional.
  • Make a list of questions for your appointments, not instructions.
  • No matter how bad you want to, never say, “If you always do C when A=B, then why did you waste all that money on medical school? Couldn’t you have just downloaded an iPhone app?”

Sigh…guess I have to take my own advice and be a patient patient. Until then, it’s not my fault, it’s my thyroid’s.

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