My Story

22 Jun
It’s been a long 16 months.
It was February 2010 when I began this journey. Mary was six months old, and I had just finished nursing. I was all excited to finally lose the baby weight and get back into my skinny clothes. But instead, I started putting on weight. I was tired, my hair was falling out, my legs hurt all the time…I just wasn’t myself. My nanny told me about her postpartum thyroid issues, and I made a doctor’s appointment to check it out.
My doctor at the time was Dr. P in Saginaw. I admit, I can be a tough patient…I am hooked on WebMD and as a former drug rep, I always assume the worst. But my experience with Dr. P was extreme. When I touched my throat and mentioned my thyroid as a possible culprit of my symptoms, she laughed me off and said I didn’t even know where my thyroid was. Her nurse then came in and had me fill out a 10-question quiz (created by Eli Lilly, of course!). She diagnosed me with depression and said I needed antidepressants right away. If there’s one thing I know about family doctors, it’s that they LOVE to prescribe antibiotics and antidepressants. I declined the Zoloft script, and I left. Weeks later, the symptoms continued. I pushed and pushed, and finally she agreed to thyroid bloodwork and an ultrasound. My bloodwork was within normal ranges. By CHANCE Dr. P was on vacation when my throat ultrasound results came in. Her partner called me and recommended a biopsy in May 2010. The biopsy was inconclusive, and Dr. P called me personally to tell me that she would have never ordered it based on my ultrasound. Every time I walked into Dr. P’s office, I would catch her gossiping about me with her staff. I was just a crazy person who was weight-obsessed. So, in a last ditch effort for treatment, I scheduled an appointment with Dr. P’s nurse practitioner. Surely she would listen to me! Dr. P walked right past me that day in the office, and never said hello. Her nurse practitioner came into the exam room, and said, “I have spoken to Dr. P. All of your tests are normal and we really need to talk about antidepressants.”
That day, I got on Dr. R’s waiting list.
I finally got in to see Dr. R in June 2010. She read my pathology report and said she would recommend surgery to remove the questionable nodule. She referred me to Dr. K, an ENT in Saginaw. That was the worst 30 minutes of my life. He stuck a scope up my nose and down my throat, and said I looked “fine.”. Then he kept asking me about my sleeping habits, snoring, etc. I don’t have sleeping issues, so I kept pushing back on his questions. He said he would watch and wait on the nodule, and said I probably had chronic fatigue syndrome. As I walked out of the office, I took notice of the Sleep Lab educational materials. Apparently, my thyroid wasn’t as profitable as sleeping issues might have been.
Dr. R was surprised that Dr. K said to watch and wait, but she took his advice. She asked me to have another ultrasound in 6 months. It felt like a death sentence. I couldn’t lose weight no matter what I did. My hair was brittle and falling out. I woke up every morning feeling hungover and I had terrible bone aches at night. I read every thyroid blog that has ever been written. Finally, I went to a natural thyroid specialist in Southfield – Dr. L. She put me on iodine and thyroid supplements (Iodoral and GTA Forte) and I did GREAT. I was finally feeling like myself again, and I started to lose weight! But after just three months, my bloodwork showed a HYPERactive thyroid, and I was worried that I was doing damage with the supplements.
In March 2011, Dr. R ordered a radioactive iodine uptake scan. But after having been on supplements, the results were skewed. I felt sheepish for self-medicating, but Dr. R treated me like a human being. I waited the assigned 6 weeks with no supplements, and repeated the scan. It showed a cold nodule in my lower right lobe…9 mm in size. Dr. R called her personal friend, radiologist Dr. N at Covenant, to do the biopsy. This time, Dr. N had a cytopathologist look at the sample before she ended the biopsy. This ensured she got a good sample for diagnosis.
Dr. R called me with the news this morning. The biopsy showed papillary cancer. It’s early, and very small and easy to remove. Dr. R said, “Kudos to you for pursuing this. I always tell my medical students to believe their patients…they know when something just isn’t right.”
So, that’s my story. I will be fine, and I feel confident that I finally found a doctor who will partner with me in my health. Here are the takeaways.
-Morning headache
-Stubborn weight gain and inability to lose weight despite diet and exercise
-Cold hands and feet
-Bone pain in lower legs at night
-Dry, brittle hair that tangles and falls out easily
-Itchy scalp
-Irregular, painful periods
-Edema and constipation
-Brain fog
-TSH ranged from 1.1-2.5 (“normal”)
-Enlarged thyroid…hard to see, but you could tell by feeling my neck
-Calcified thyroid nodule, 9mm in size and “cold” on an uptake scan
-Stay away from doctors that are annoyed that you have done research
-Thyroid nodules are quite common, but my symptoms were not normal. Therefore, the small calcified nodule on my throat ultrasound needed to be taken seriously. Doctors usually do not biopsy a nodule that is less than 1 cm. I insisted, and I am glad I did.
-“Normal range” is not necessarily normal for you
-There is a lot of crazy thyroid info on the internet, but Mary Shomon is a reliable source of info –

5 Responses to “My Story”

  1. Sally B June 22, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    Sarah, so many things come into my head. First, thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. Second, good job you for listening to your gut and getting a second and third opinion. People know when things aren't right and I am so happy you have a doctor now that will give you the support you need and not make you feel crazy. Third..we both take Iodoral..that is great stuff. (I take it for my atrial flutter) Finally, I will continue to send you healing thoughts!:)

  2. Sarah June 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    Thank you Sally! I really appreciate it!

  3. Nancy June 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    Oh, Sarah, you are very very brave to share your story. And yes, you will be fine. You are smart and strong. I will send healing thoughts and many, many prayers.

  4. Sarah June 23, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    Thank you Nancy! I am not that brave, really. It just makes me feel so much better to talk it out. Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!

  5. christina February 9, 2016 at 11:34 pm #

    Hey there…

    Not sure if you check this but I am also from Michigan and have been going through this sh*t show for the past year… would love to inquire with you more about your experience if able? This blog really helped me and I just reacquainted myself with it!

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