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An Unknown Chapter: My Thyroid Health

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Photo courtesy of Boho Bella Photography

I don’t often upchuck what’s happening currently in my personal life on here. After all, I realize most of you come here looking for ways to do what you love, just on a smaller budget. But in an effort to keep my voice authentic, I felt it only fitting to share a little bit about this unknown chapter in my life as it pertains to my thyroid health.

If you don’t know me, then you may not know that I’ve never been what you consider a ‘healthy’ person from a doctor’s perspective. Growing up, I dealt with a number of issues, many of which were only compounded by my exceedingly heavy schedule and overachieving nature (yes, I was this way even as a small child!). It only seemed natural that when you train hard for tennis matches, showchoir competitions and academic tests all at the same time, your body is eventually going to give. During my teenage years, this usually manifested as severe bronchitis, mono, or the like.

After my junior year at Emory University, my body shut down.
Literally.
In fact, the doctor treating me, without knowing exactly what was causing my ailment, shared with my family that it might be fatal….not the brightest individual we’ve ever dealt with when it comes to compassion.

Anyway, after two years of extreme suffering and glaring mis-diagnoses, I was eventually diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After receiving treatment at the Cheney Clinic in North Carolina and putting it into practice for three months, my health (& life) completely turned around…to the point where I competed in the Miss North Carolina USA pageant at that point!

I’ve remained relatively symptom free since then, albeit it’s safe to say my immune system is not as strong as most. I was cautioned that I might not ever be able to conceive children, much less carry them to full term; yet here I am with two, beautiful, healthy children!

I am truly blessed.

That’s not to say those pregnancies & deliveries didn’t take a toll on my health. Both were very difficult and it was when I became pregnant with my first child that I was put on thyroid medication for the first time. I was diagnosed with HypoThyroidism, which really didn’t come as a surprise. While my TSH levels had always returned as normal from lab work, I had always been cautioned that CFS patients often receive false negatives on those tests.

Thus started my thyroid journey. As someone who hated to be on any sort of ongoing medication, I desperately searched for ways to get off. However, instead of improving, I’ve had to continually increase my dose over the years: with my 2nd pregnancy, again three years ago and now just last month…with a dose that is over 4 times my initial prescription.

It was two months ago when I can remember feeling “off”. I can’t pinpoint any one thing that was wrong, but I suddenly gained about 10 pounds though my routine didn’t change drastically. I couldn’t trust my body (or my brain) in the ways I normally could, so I decided it was time to go get my levels checked again.

It was this new ENT that sent me for an ultrasound of my thyroid, which I didn’t take to be a good sign. I then found out on June 2 (my husband’s birthday), that they discovered a large nodule on the left side of my thyroid that would require a biopsy. Because of my grandmother’s death, we had to push that procedure back to the end of June.

I finally got a call last Wednesday night after business hours from the doctor’s assistant asking if he could speak with me.

Again, not a good sign.

He got on the phone and proceeded to tell me the results of my biopsy….or rather, the non-results. He confessed he’s only seen this one other time in the past five years and was sorry to say they couldn’t give me a definite answer. While he predicted the lump was only a result of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (a condition he believes I have and that I still don’t really understand as of yet), the cells ‘resembled’ lymphoma. I could either have the lump removed or undergo a second biopsy, of which he recommended the latter.

Having not especially enjoyed the first biopsy, especially since I wasn’t given any anesthesia as they poked four needles into my throat and dug around, I wasn’t thrilled about the thought of repeating that process. Even if I elected to just take the lump out without another biopsy, I knew we wouldn’t be addressing the root issue that caused the mass in the first place. If the lump stayed in, even if we determined it wasn’t lymphoma, it would have to be monitored every three months for the next year.

Still not the news I was looking for.

So here I am, not knowing what the next step is, yet staying optimistic for what the future holds. Regardless of what happens with this nodule, I know I’ll be needing to make some lifestyle choices so that it doesn’t happen again.

For now, I’m gathering as much information as I can and looking for good advice from trusted sources. I know this is just the beginning of the journey, and that I have to act fast, but I’m ready to fight.

I have a lot worth fighting for :)

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Photo courtesy of Boho Bella Photography

26 comments

  1. lacasha rittenberry

    oh sami!! i will definately be keeping your faily in my prayers inthe weeks and months ahead!!! stay strong:)

  2. Wow! You have been through so much! Speaking as one who has been through a very sick childhood, chronic migraines, miscarriages, cancer/chemo treatment, and fibromyalgia, I have great sympathy for you and your family. Blessings to you!!

    I am always glad that seems like an unexpected, nasty surprise to me is not a surprise to God. While I do not know everything that you will encounter over the next weeks and months, I do know that God is with you and has a plan for you as you walk through it all. You will be in my thoughts and prayers! And, I, for one, will be glad to hear updates as you go!

  3. You are so right, Cathy! Thanks for the encouragement :)

  4. Love you, Sam…praying for you daily and believing in a full healing!

  5. Sami – Thank you for your honesty. I believe the shared experience is invaluable, and I know there are many people out there who will read this, learn from it and be better off for it. I wish you wisdom in your choices, love from your family and friends, and the healing and good health you deserve. If there is anything I can do to help, please just ask. Love to you, Jen

  6. Sami, how strong of you to be so authentic by putting this “out there.” I’ll keep you, and your doc(s), in prayer.

  7. Sami, I don’t know if you remember me but we met at Relevant. I have Thyroid Cancer. For one, I want to say if in doubt get a second opinion. I had that nasty biopsy too. Thankfully my doc did want to just get it out and I have had the surgery to remove my Thyroid. I’ve also dealt with hypothyroidism. Please email me with any questions or even to just vent. I’m no doctor but I’ve been there and still am fighting it. I can at least be there for you. I would be honored if you want to chat with me about it. HUGS! I’m praying!

  8. Oh my, sweet friend. You are truly authentic and there isn’t one like you. I have tears streaming down my face and I’m about to “turn in” for the night and spend the rest of the evening in prayer for you. PLEASE keep me updated. XOXO

    Meghan

  9. Thinking of you, keep us posted when you can. No matter what it is, I hope you find some peace when there’s a plan and you can get going on giving it the smackdown.

  10. Thank you for opening this chapter of your life to your readers. I have added you to my prayer journal and can’t wait to see what God does in your life. Thanks for blogging! I appreciate so much the info you share as it is so relative to my family.

  11. Thank you for being open to hearing about this side of my life 😉 So grateful for your support, Rachel!

  12. Thanks girl – I’m definitely ready for a smack down (especially if you’re in my corner!) Long day today and more tomorrow – about to update…

  13. I cannot express how grateful I am to have you in my life. Thanks for being on my side, in this life and for eternity!

  14. Chele, of course I remember you! Thank you for opening up to me as well. I’m so sorry you’re having to go through it, but know there’s an answer and a reason for it all.
    I appreciate your offer to talk, but I’m just not ready yet…hence why I’ve decided to open up on here. Perhaps I’ll be taking you up on that offer soon though 😉

  15. I don’t know about strong, but I sure am grateful for everyone taking the time to stop, read & pray! Thank you!

  16. Oh, my sweet Jen-ne-fer…you are such a dear friend to me, even though I haven’t gotten to hug you in so long. All I can ask of you is that you keep bringing precious (& hilarious) memories of our times together to the forefront of my mind right now….and perhaps even a pic or two on Facebook (if it isn’t too embarrassing 😉

  17. Love you more than you will ever know. Joining with you in that believing prayer! May be needing to create our book weekend sooner than we think to relieve some stress :) Remind me when we talk…

  18. Hey, sweet Sami! I applaud your strength and your courage in sharing this all with us! I too have recently begun to have issues with my thyroid, and am quite suspicious of Hashimoto’s. Just that issue in itself is draining and stressful! We do know the Almighty Physician, and we know that He makes no mistakes. Praying that He shows Himself to you in such a unique way through all this! Hugs and prayers, my friend!

  19. Thank you, Mandy! You will be in my prayers too! I promise to learn all I learn so that we can all benefit and walk the road back to health together!

  20. I am so sorry that you are going through this!! You are in my prayers both for answers and for healing!

  21. Sami,
    My prayers are with you. You are a brave woman and I admire how you have shared your story…esp understanding how so many go through life with health and other issues, as well. Please remember, you are not fighting this alone! Our Heavenly Father is with you the entire way!!!

    I am adding yout o my prayer list.
    May his sweet arms wrap around you and provide you with peace during this time of…not receiving the answers…

    Rebecca

  22. You are so sweet, Rebecca! So grateful to be a part of of your prayer list – thank you, thank you.

  23. You are so sweet, Rebecca! So grateful to be a part of of your prayer list – thank you, thank you.

  24. Thank you roomie! SO looking forward to being with you in just a couple days :)

  25. Sami,
    I can’t wait to hear what God is going to do for you and your family!!! You’re in my thoughts & prayers. Luv ya girl.

  26. Thank you sweet Sue!!!