Wednesday, September 22, 2010

fighting fate

POST EDIT: Because a few people have asked - I'm not having the entire thyroid removed as of yet. Just one half, the part that looks funny. If it reveals additional problems, then we can all say goodbye to the thyroid.

Years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I had a moment that in large measure defines the way I live today. I remember looking in the mirror and not only not liking what I saw physically but having a very distinct realization that if I did not make changes now, there was a hereditary path I would likely follow. That night I tried to run. I made it probably a quarter of a mile. Maybe. But I didn't stop trying. Every night I added the distance of a lightpole. By the end of that year, I was running five miles without stopping. In the few years that followed, half marathons. And then a marathon. I changed my eating habits - although chocolate and Diet Dr Pepper continue to be major problems :) - and even when injuries effectively ended my running career (I like to think, just "for now"), I started spinning. This "obsession" with my weight isn't so much about the number on the scale (in fact, I don't own scales) so much as it is the knowledge of what I could become if I stop, if I let it get out of control. I want to be healthy - in body and mind - forever. I owe it to Annabelle. And Jess. And myself.

A month ago, when the nurse practitioner informed me I had some sort of thyroid issue, I thought she was nuts. I mean, sure these last ten pounds are stuck in my doughy, stretched out middle, and although I'm not a health nut, I'm certainly not unhealthy in my lifestyle. But then the tests confirmed her suspicions. Indeed, I have Hashimoto's disease (does anyone else find it completely fitting that I have a Japanese disease - woot woot!). To keep it short and simple, the antibodies in my body are attacking my thyroid, which makes my brain think it needs extra help, which makes the thyroid essentially "grow" or swell.

This morning I visited a specialist, an endocrinologist to be exact. She explained that in one out of ten cases, growths or nodules resulting from an overactive thyroid can be cancerous (which are simply removed). The growth on mine has several indicators, and while I could just have a biopsy, I've elected to have it removed. It's minor surgery, but unlike the biopsy, the results are conclusive. If indeed the growth is cancerous, we can all say goodbye to my thyroid (and good riddance really) and goodbye to cancer. I'll take a hormone pill every day for the rest of all time in any case, and although this sounds scary, it's pretty basic. Due to my health and physical activity for the last decade, what could be a bigger issue is a very manageable one.

I've always taken great pride in my efforts to stay fit, to be healthy. It's something that means a lot to me and not for just the simple vain reasons, although those obviously come in to play at times. It means I'm respecting this body I was gifted, taking the best care of it that I can. Today, I'm so very grateful for my health and grateful for that prompting I had years ago to start running and make changes. Not only did it keep me in my jeans but it also kept what could've been a serious issue from escalating. It enabled my doctor to notice something unusual about an otherwise generally healthy body. And I'm so grateful.

Because me and that Belle? We intend to be BFFs forever. With or without that pesky thyroid.


Jamie said...

I love this post. Not the thyroid part, but the part about being fit and staying healthy. I am a totally believer!

Love the picture of you and belle :)

Kirsti said...

I hope all goes well for you! My mother also had her thyroid gland removed (a tumor had eaten most of it) several years back. The surgery wasn't fun, but then the tumor was pretty nasty by the time they found it. She takes hormone supplements now with [for the most part] good success. Whenever she begins acting too bizarre these days, we just smile and blame it on her "lobotomy." (Respectful kids she did not raise.)

Rachel said...

No fun. My sister was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto's. I was worried about her at first, but she seems to be doing fine with it. She's a health nut like you :) You are so funny - you and your Japanese disease :)


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