Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting a Sonogram, and Not the Fun Kind

The first time I heard about my potential thyroid issues was in my RE’s office, during the infertility years. Blood work, he said, revealed antibodies around my thyroid, which means I probably have the beginnings of an autoimmune disease. He added, I guess to reassure me, that that meant I may get an autoimmune disease in my lifetime, or may not. It could happen next week or never, he said. Reassuring, no? My body is either a ticking time bomb, and incubator of disease or a perfectly functioning Superhero machine that battles and annihilates diseased cells before they even have a chance to turn into Something Bad.

While I was pregnant, my ob/gyn told me that my thyroid numbers were “off” and that I should get it checked out. It most likely had to do with the raging hormones of pregnancy and the stress of a twin pregnancy, she said. But I was too busy napping on my couch and panicking though my pregnancy to add another appointment to my roster.

Then my primary care doctor informed me two years ago that my thyroid was enlarged and I should get a sonogram of it. And, as recently as six months ago, my gynecologist said the same thing, after just looking at my neck from across the damn room.

So why does it take me almost four years to get to the damn thyroid doctor? What is wrong with me? Today, at long last, I finally have an appointment to get a sonogram, and I am reasonably certain that this will be the first in a round of thyroid-related appointments. My fire was lit because my friend, who had a similar narrative, went to get a sonogram of her thyroid last week, which revealed an almost five-centimeter growth on it. Next up for her: Biopsy, followed by a long list of appointments. Worst case scenario: It is cancerous. But even if that is the case, there is an almost 100 percent cure rate. Still. While we are humans and it is normal for our bodies to break and break down, these little reminders of our mortality are sobering and more than as little annoying.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that there is something wrong with my thyroid. Both my mother and aunt have had goiters and nodules and are on that synthetic thyroid medicine for the rest of their lives. And when a doctor just looks at my neck and without even touching it can say my thyroid is enlarged, then we know something is up. Plus, I think about my history and my ability to gain and lose weight with alarming ease. I can gain 20 pounds like it’s nothing and lose 20 pounds just as easily. Not sure how that fits on the thyroid spectrum, because most issues I read about are either an inability to lose weight or gain weight and not both.

I realize I am bordering on histrionics here, but this sort of thing just scares me, which is why it has taken my almost four years after the antibody report to see doctor. I prefer, in a way, to not know if there is a problem. Just let me go quietly in my sleep. And I am not the type of person that deals well with follow-ups, which is part of the reason why I don’t like to go to bed mad. I don’t like to revisit pain, suffering or sorrow in the morning. I don’t like to “sleep on things.” Give me a firm resolution and course of action, thank you very much, and call it a day.

So today, around eleven, Nicole will make the five-minute trek from her office and switch places with me so I can head down to 23rd Street for a sonogram, the first step in this thyroid journey. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that it all just resolved itself and this is a false alarm? A girl can dream.

Pictured above, from our weekend, which included a trip to the NY Aquarium. I love the picture of three out of four gnawing on a soft pretzel. And check out the woman in the bathing suit: We witnessed and honest-to-goodness Polar Bear club swimming event! I love the image of her, half naked, in front of people bundled up in the winter garb. It was a relatively warm end-of-winter day but not warm enough for a dip in the ocean!


K J and the kids said...

I hope you are ok ! Please let us know what happens today.
I also hope that it turns out to be a non cancerous lump on your friends thyroid.
Good luck !

Susanica said...

Whoa. I am so sorry to read this. Hopefully things will turn out better than you'd imagined they would. -Monica

calliope said...

good night, lady!
How did it go?????

Jennifer said...

OK so of course the tech is not allowed to say anything but I managed to get SOME out of her. My thyroid does indeed look slightly enlarged. And in terms of nodules....she didn't answer really. I asked her if it looked like anything I need to worry about ad she said something positive. And now I wait a week till my doctor's appt. to go over the results.

Christen said...

Long time lurker, but thought this seemed like the right time to jump in - I hope this is reassuring: I have that autoimmune thyroid disease your doctor mentioned (mine is called Hashimoto's thyroiditis), and I have to say that it's really not so bad! There were a few ups and downs for me when I was diagnosed, but once I started taking the replacement hormone (sounds like your mom and aunt are in the same boat), I felt a lot better, almost like I don't have this disease at all. My thyroid was enlarged in the beginning - the antibodies that are attacking your thyroid tissue (as if it's some foreign body) make it inflamed, but that doesn't go on forever. Remembering to take the pill everyday is a bit annoying, but honestly, it could be a lot worse. If you need some more information, contact me offline. This is very common - there are a lot of us out there!

Anonymous said...

I had my thyroid gland out last year because both lobes had cysts and it had gotten so large that I was having trouble breathing. I had the condition for 5 years(No, don't you wait that long!)during which time my thyroid function was erratic and untreatable. Since it has been removed I am feeling a lot better than I have in years, and it is really no trouble to take my thyroid hormone tablets every day.
(Another reason not to put it off is that I had some precancerous cells in one of the smaller cysts, but I am clear.)
I'm sure that you will be alright and your condition treatable. :)

psapph0 said...

Interesting... I'm on the verge of having blood work done in order to determine if I have a thyroid disorder...

Keep me posted?

Jennifer said...

Thanks, people! You all will know anything as soon as I know something. Which is next wednesday.

Jennifer said...

Thanks, people! You all will know something as soon as I do. You will be the first to know! Next wednesday is the appt to go over the scans, etc