Monday, December 3, 2012

PSA: Check Your Neck

I've gotten a few messages from people who want to know more about my symptoms and diagnosis. I'm not a doctor and I'm not an expert. I know that thyroid nodules are super common in women and are very rarely cancer. I'm just special, I guess. So y'all stop freaking out.

Here is a great place to start looking for information if you're really interested:

Now, the symptoms that brought me to the thyroid cancer diagnosis are my own. By that, I mean that the things that were strange to me might be normal to you. And my normal might (might?) be strange to you. I had some pretty weird symptoms... the strangest was probably the inability to regulate my body temperature. I would be in my freezing, meat locker classroom and be completely comfortable in a sleeveless shirt. No goosebumps, no shivering. All the kids were hunched in their seats wearing jackets and I was completely toasty without sleeves. And then, that same night, I would be in a tub full of the hottest water I could run. My skin would turn bright red and feel tight from the hot water- but I would still feel freezing.

There were other things, of course. But they're only meaningful in that those symptoms were deviations from my norm. Something felt wrong. When my doctor noticed that the old thyroid nodules felt bigger, we got them checked out. I was sure it was cancer (or Graves' Disease). I was absolutely certain (and hopeful) that they would run tests and come back with a name for what was messing with me. But one test after another came back clear. Blood work, ultrasound, radioactive thyroid reuptake, needle biopsy: all negative. And one after another, those results blew my mind. I started wondering if there was something really mentally wrong with me (beyond my usual irreverent quirkiness). The needle biopsy was the worst. The doctor had already ruled out Graves', so I was ready for the cancer diagnosis. When that test came back negative, I think I was more mad than anything. If it wasn't cancer, then what was it?

It is true that all my symptoms could have had other causes. I'm not 25 anymore... things are bound to start falling apart these days. I've been pregnant three times and had two children (this will always be my least favorite math problem). I've had that whole gall bladder sickness and then the elective breast reduction just a few weeks after- both of these surgeries in the last year. That's bound to mess with my hormones, right? Not to mention, I'm the poster child for weird medical situations. If I had a nickel for every time a doctor has told me, "I've never seen that before. I'm sure it's fine,"...

It would have been easy for me or my doctors to write off my symptoms as just the aging process of a whackadoo. I am very, very fortunate that we didn't all write it off at the same time. At least one of us was always pushing for one more check. I got lucky. We found the cause of my symptoms.

It's worth noticing that I'm still recognizing what some of my symptoms were. I didn't realize how lethargic or how scatterbrained I'd become. Now that the whole broken thyroid is out and I'm on the synthetic thyroid supplement, I'm realizing how off I really was. Not that it was all bad... some of those harebrained schemes were pretty fun...

All that to say... thyroid cancer detection can be a little tricky. Check your neck. Get your doctor to check your neck. It takes all of four seconds. And listen to your gut. If you think something needs to be checked out, check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment