Thyroid Health Resources

Thyroid Health Resources -
*I'm not a doctor. I'm providing information I discovered during my research and my own diagnosis. 

Hailey Fun Fact:  In fall of 2013, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's (an autoimmune disease in which your body attacks your thyroid), AND thyroid cancer.  I had to fight for certain tests.  I had to research and find my own surgeon, because the first endocrinologist I saw was so cavalier about my diagnosis.  My surgery was December 20th of that year, and by mid-March I was going through my nine-day stint of being radioactive.

Through the entire process, it was incredibly hard for me to find information about thyroid issues, about the process of having thyroid cancer, about every doctor appointment and what was to happen and why.  Doctors weren't always forthcoming with information and my anxiety was through the roof.  In fact, it was only an hour or so before I became radioactive that I was given a sheet of paper about the precautions I needed to take as a radioactive person.  If I didn't exhaustively search the internet, I wouldn't have spent three full days prior moving everything out of my bedroom and covering the entirety of it - and the things left in it - in plastic to protect them from me.  I wouldn't have been prepared.  And that is unacceptable.

Since that time, I have tried to educate others and make sure I put information out into the world in case someone else needs to see it.  You can read my posts about the thyroid cancer process and visit my Health Pinterest Board for a round-up of thyroid health posts and mental health articles as well.  Below, I have information, links, and graphics to make it easier for those who need it.

Blood Tests 

Thyroid Tests Thyroid Labs - Full Panel  - Bloodwork -

My blood tests were "normal".  The initial doctor I saw wasn't even going to test anything other than TSH (which is usually the only test doctors run, and is not a full picture of what your thyroid is up to).  After the doctor felt the nodule, they ended up testing my Free T4.  I asked for an antibody test and they said no.  I told them I just found out my brother has thyroid issues and takes medication, and that my grandma also has thyroid issues.  Based on that information and my symptoms, I told them I was pretty sure I had Hashimoto's and wanted the test.  They said no again.  I had to send stern emails to BOTH doctors at the practice until the one said I needed to get a biopsy immediately and told me I was going to have to have surgery no matter what.  This scared the crap out of me.  They wouldn't run the proper tests and this dude was suddenly acting like I was going to die if I didn't immediately get a biopsy and surgery!?!?!

He finally okayed the antibody test after my ultrasound said the nodule was close to 3cm and needed a biopsy.   I ended up emailing the other doctor and told her she needed to listen to her patients and take things seriously next time someone came to her with these issues.  I told her I was right!

But my point is, most doctors only do the two tests.  Both of mine were "normal", yet I had hypo, Hashi, and cancer.  Also, most doctors adhere to the old standard range, which could see you having a TSH of anywhere between .5 and 5.0 and be called "normal".  The new standard that was actually issued YEARS ago (2002) says "normal" is .3 to 3.0.

My TSH was 3.68 when all this started, so I printed the information about the new reference range and took it with me to one of my appointments.  I don't think they were even going to medicate me otherwise, even though I have Hashimoto's.  (Being medicated, even just a little, can sometimes help tremendously with symptoms and help to shrink nodules.)  My TSH is around 0.2 now to suppress any cancer from coming back.

Optimal Thyroid Levels, Optimal Thyroid Ranges, Thyroid Test Results, TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3 -

The Process

  • Everyone should have regular blood test check-ups to monitor their thyroid.  If these aren't done yearly, they should be done at least every few years until/unless a problem arises.  Then blood work should be more often.
  • Pregnant women should definitely be having their thyroid checked multiple times during pregnancy.  Proper treatment is vital for all, and in some cases is a life or death situation.

For thyroid disease, monitoring blood work results, medication dosages, and the like are necessary.  Changing your dietary lifestyle can help with symptoms and inflammation.  In many cases, you may also have an autoimmune disease (or more than one) at work.

But if something more sinister is in the works, there is a bigger process involved.
Here is a basic overview of the order of events in my case:

This first part is outlined in my initial blog post.  I will add links to the below events for the corresponding blog posts.
  • Appointment to check my neck once I felt a nodule
  • Blood work and results overview
  • Appointment with new doctor to look further into my issues
  • More blood work
  • An ultrasound of my thyroid
  • Diagnosis of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, and thyroid cancer based on those results
  • Biopsy of the tumor
  • Appointment with an endocrinologist  (in my situation, this endo was very rude and dismissive of me.  She was the one that was supposed to get me to a surgeon, so when I decided to not go back to her I had to start researching my own surgeon.)
  • Meet with surgeon to start the process of surgery (in my situation, it was my surgeon who  recommended my current endo.)
  • Another ultrasound to check the tumor
  • Surgery & Recovery
  • After surgery is when they finally started me on medication.  At first it was generic Synthroid, but I do much better on name brand Levoxyl.  A few years later, I started taking a generic T3 medication along with my T4 med.

A few months later it was time for radiation.

  • Started the Low Iodine Diet for a couple weeks prior to radiation.  Starving any remaining thyroid cells of iodine makes it easier for these cells to take in the radioactive iodine, so they can be killed off during the radiation process.
  • Spent a couple weeks cleaning and organizing the house.  The weekend before radiation was spent moving things out of my bedroom and covering everything in plastic.
  • At the beginning of radiation week, I had to get a thyrogen shot two days in a row.  Thyrogen is a drug that mimics your body's natural TSH, which is produced by the pituitary gland. Basically, it puts your thyroid to work and helps remaining cells go into overdrive so they slurp up the radioactive iodine even better.
  • Met with Nuclear Medicine to go over the radiation procedure. I took a tracer dose of radiation to prepare for the next day's body scan.

Radiation Day

  • Back to Nuclear Medicine for a full body scan to see if the cancer spread and where the remaining thyroid cells were in my body.
  • Over to my endo to go over the scan results.  I did "quite remarkable" on the low iodine diet, meaning I had the cleanest scan my doctor had ever seen apparently. 
  • On back to Nuclear Medicine where I was given the radioactive iodine and told to hurry my radioactive butt away from everyone.
  • Then I spent nine days in isolation in my Plastic Palace being all radioactive.

  • As follow-up care, I had blood work and ultrasounds every six months for the first couple of years.  After that, I have yearly ultrasounds, with blood work every six months.  My doctor over-medicates me to try to keep a recurrence of cancer away.  If any remaining thyroid cells are there and working, they could start causing trouble again.

Thyroid-Related Pages on Facebook

More Thyroid Resources

  • Most nodules are not cancerous, and can even shrink with proper medication.  Getting an ultrasound of your thyroid is a good first step in assessing the situation.
  • Nodules are common in people with Hashimoto's.
  • Hashi is actually really common and is usually what brings on hypo in people, but a vast majority of doctors don't ever test for it.  It is one of the most misdiagnosed or under-diagnosed issues because of that.  It acts like so many other things.  Those things are assumed to be the problem and are treated with no results, because the Hashi is the underlying issue.  
  • So many doctors don't really take thyroid issues of any kind that seriously.  Oh, you're tired?  Get more sleep.  Oh, you don't feel good?  Lose weight. You're just fat.  
  • Vitamin deficiencies, like anemia, and Hashimoto's are friends.  If you have one, make sure you are tested for the other. 
  • Dumb doctors hate when you bring print outs from the Internet, but they have been helpful to give me ammunition.  
  • You HAVE to be your own advocate and FIGHT for yourself and your health.  I had to fight for every doctor appointment and for these health care professionals to treat me with urgency and respect.  It is exhausting.

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