September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. I wanted to write this post earlier in the month but life ... it is crazy. So here we are, the last day of September. The last day of Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. The last day before the pink explosion (I am not bitter at all that my cancer does not even have a run, not to mention the ridiculous awareness ribbon we got stuck with. You guys, it is teal, purple, and pink. I got the Lisa Frank awareness ribbon. )
Right. So. Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month. We all go for yearly doctor exams, right? Or we go to a clinic when we're sick. Or we go to the ER when we slice our hand open cutting bagels. Or our cousin is dating a doctor. My point is, we all see doctors at some point, in some capacity, on a yearly-ish basis. It takes 15 seconds for your doctor to check your thyroid gland. S/he may ask you to look up and swallow while s/he looks at your neck. Or s/he may stand behind you and feel the gland at the base of your neck. It's fast, easy, and non-invasive is the point I'm trying to make.
Your thyroid gland is really freaking important because it makes thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones control how your body works. Metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, more science-y stuff that I don't understand ... all controlled by your thyroid hormones. You don't want to lose your thyroid is what I'm saying.
My thyroidectomy was completed on May 31st. I have lived without a thyroid for 4 months. I have been working with my endocrinologist since my second surgery to try to find the right dosage for my synthetic thyroid hormone. I have blood drawn every 6 weeks (and will continue to do so for a full year.) My body has to adjust to the new dosage every time the doctors tweak it (which sounds whiny, I know, but it's hard. The first few days are really rough - muscle pain, excessive sweating, fast heart rate, anxiety, lots of fun stuff that makes living with a willful toddler extra special.) I sustained some damage during my second surgery (which was why my hospital stay was four days instead of one) which means that my body still isn't absorbing calcium properly. I take six calcium pills and a vitamin D pill every day, on top of my other medications. Is it the end of the world? No. Is it a hassle to try to juggle different medications that need to be taken at different times of the day, some with food, some without? Yes. It's annoying. I have a pill sorter, you guys. An ugly, purple plastic, pill sorter. I feel 92 years old sometimes.
I'm not trying to elicit sympathy. I'm trying to convince you that asking your doctor to spend 15 seconds checking your thyroid gland is so much easier than dealing with thyroid problems. It's not just thyroid cancer! There are thyroid problems that can affect your mood, your energy levels, your weight - and thyroid problems are not rare.
So please. For the love of your thyroid. Check your neck. Or better yet, have a doctor check your neck (says the lady who had a baseball-sized tumour in her neck and could not feel it.)