On May 12, 2015 I had thyroid surgery, yes I said thyroid surgery! In preparation for the surgery I started to do a lot of research on the different types of thyroid diseases and how it can be treated. As a result I decided to create the NMFIT Thyroid Health Series to share my experience in the hopes it might help others and educate those that may not realize the importance of thyroid health.
An estimated 20 million Americans have thyroid disease of which 60% are unaware of their condition. First you may be asking yourself what is my thyroid and where is it? Don't worry this question along with many others will be answered in today's blog post and within the series. I will be interviewing different professionals in the world of health and wellness that can offer insightful tips when it comes to creating and maintaining a healthy thyroid.
Getting To Know Your Thyroid
What is your thyroid exactly? What role does it play in the human body? Simply put by WebMD.com:
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front of the neck. Your thyroid lies below your Adam’s apple, along the front of the windpipe. The thyroid has two side lobes, connected by a bridge (isthmus) in the middle. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it.
Brownish-red in color, the thyroid is rich with blood vessels. Nerves important for voice quality also pass through the thyroid.
The thyroid secretes several hormones, collectively called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development, and body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.
I was diagnosed with an enlarged goiter on my thyroid gland. This was discovered during a routine yearly doctor's visit. My doctor felt a modest bulge in my neck a few years ago where the thyroid gland is located. Being that my thyroid levels tested normal and I felt fine I didn't feel an urgency to get it checked out. The bulge was barely noticeable unlike many other cases where it can project outward and/or to the side.
According to the American Thyroid Association: The term “goiter” simply refers to the abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland. It is important to know that the presence of a goiter does not necessarily mean that the thyroid gland is malfunctioning. A goiter can occur in a gland that is producing too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), too little hormone (hypothyroidism), or the correct amount of hormone (euthyroidism). A goiter indicates there is a condition present which is causing the thyroid to grow abnormally.
Over the years my goiter increased tremendously in size causing concern for a number of reasons. An over-sized goiter can not only make a home for undetected cancer cells but can also cause the following:
- neck pain
- difficulty in breathing
- trouble swallowing
- disruption in hormone levels
MyThyroid.com says that having an enlarged thyroid gland or goiter is not uncommon. This does not mean any increase in size of your thyroid gland should be ignored. Gain in size could also be an indication of cancer. Although there is a large success rate (97% if treated appropriately) when it comes thyroid cancer patients early detection is key!
The option of having surgery was the last thing I wanted to hear, especially after already undergoing major ASD heart surgery the end of my senior year in high school. That experience was terrifying at the time and I truly did not want to have to go under the knife ever again. The thought of having no control over my body with anesthesia freaked me out! After meeting with my surgeon Dr. David H. Henick who came highly recommended by a family friend I immediately felt at ease and was ready to have the surgery! He answered all my questions, I knew it was something I needed to do!
Without the support of my family and friends this experience would have been so much harder. I maintained a positive attitude and kept it healthy even in the hospital. I will share how I trained my mind and body during the recovery process more in the series. My thyroid health journey continues as I learn more about the gland and how it plays a major role in the human body!
Every Thursday a new NMFIT Thyroid Health Series post goes live, I hope you will join me each week and share your personal experiences with me.
Training minds, changing bodies!
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