Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today is Orson's birthday.

The date was July 15th, 2010. I opened my eyes and saw my mom standing over me.Perhaps she read my mind, or maybe she has had so many surgeries she knows that when people wake up from general anaesthesia they usually wonder what day or time it is. "Good afternoon," she said, "Today is Thursday." I wasn't sure if my voice worked yet, but I tried to speak anyway. My first words came in a whisper:  "Today is Orson's birthday."

The thyroid disease I have is technically not a thyroid disorder at all. It is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which is actually an autoimmune disease (your body attacks itself). When someone has Hashimoto's their immune system attacks their thyroid gland and thyroid tissue is destroyed. Hashimoto's Thyroiditis usually results in hypothyroidism (or low thyroid function) with bouts of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). It's often described as the most misdiagnosed thyroid condition, and it was probably this misdiagnosis which cost me half my thyroid ... but that's another story altogether.

When my doctor told me that I would have to have thyroid surgery, of course I was concerned. Concerned about what they would find when they went in. Concerned about my voice - would my voice change? Would I lose my singing voice? Concerned about the transformation my entire body would have to go through while adjusting to losing half my thyroid.

I had a nodule that was growing on my thyroid which was not cancerous, but it was becoming increasingly obstructive to my breathing and swallowing, and given the aggressiveness of my autoimmune disease, the nodule's non-response to hormone therapy and other treatment and the extensive damage already done to that side of my thyroid my doctors recommended that I remove that half of my thyroid.

Not all thyroid dysfunction has to end in surgery and so if you do have thyroid problems you shouldn't have to feel like that is your likely end or only option. Be sure to read up as much as possible ON YOUR OWN about disorders of the thyroid, including alternative treatments and everyday things you can do / lifestyle changes you can make to alleviate your symptoms and improve your thyroid function, so that you and your doctor can make informed decisions together about your treatment.

Most importantly, be proactive about your thyroid health (and this should apply to every aspect of health) familiarize yourself with a list of symptoms of thyroid dysfunction and make it a habit to periodically check your neck for a swollen thyroid or thyroid nodule.

How to check your neck:

[July is thyroid disease awareness month at Just Bee You! Beauty products. Be sure to come back for more posts on this issue and visit our Facebook Page for even more info on the thyroid and thyroid dysfunction.]

Friday, July 4, 2014

Leaving My Mark

scar (n): 
a mark left on the skin or within body tissue where a wound, burn, or sore was present;
a lasting effect of grief, fear or other emotion left on a person’s character 
by a traumatic experience. 

Some people see their scars as a reminder of a funny story or a crazy adventure. For others, scars are a reminder of a painful past, a bad fall, or a difficult illness. That's why some keep their ‘scar stories’ to themselves instead of rehashing the painful truth each time someone asks about it. I actually used to have a bit of fun by giving weird responses to persons who would ask about the scar on my neck from my thyroid surgery. Rather than discuss it, I've given outlandish responses like: “I was in a gang fight”.

This wasn't my first surgery, and so I knew I had a tendency to have bad scarring (or develop keloids), so when my scar started growing I wasn't particularly surprised, but I certainly was determined to minimize the appearance of it as much as possible. In the earlier months, right after the surgery, I would use silicone strips/plasters on my neck to flatten the keloid (which didn't help much by the way). Later, I began massaging it with my handmade cocoa butter and shea butter cream (cocoa shea skin smoothie) which, based on my progress pics, was beginning to fade the scar considerably.

One afternoon late last year, I went to the barber shop with my mom. While I was sitting waiting on her to get her haircut, another lady approached me and asked me about my scar. I noticed that her thyroid was very enlarged. We had a great conversation about the exhaustion, the weight gain, the frustration of having her hair thin out, the frightening feeling of being choked by your enlarged thyroid while trying to sleep. We discussed treatment options and my experience with my physician, versus what she felt was inadequate treatment by her doctor.

That encounter with that lady got me thinking … if she hadn’t seen my scar we would not have had that conversation. I decided at that time to stop working on my scar; I would be leaving the mark on my neck. It’s a bit less noticeable now, but you can still see it, and that’s fine. I don't mind explaining to people why I have it. I’ve gotten to the point where my scars no longer make me self-conscious, but I’m realizing more and more that they can be a powerful tool in raising the level of consciousness in people I meet every day. I have even had persons who noticed the scar on one of my Facebook pictures and have asked me questions about thyroid dysfunction. It’s a conversation starter, but maybe thyroid disease IS something that more people should be talking about, so I’m okay with that.

Instead of a reminder of a tough period in your life, try to think of your scars, whether physical or emotional, as marks of triumph over that difficult situation. More importantly think of it as a possible way to help someone else who may need help in dealing with a similar issue.

[July is thyroid disease awareness month at Just Bee You! Beauty products. Be sure to come back for more posts on this issue and visit our Facebook Page for even more info on the thyroid and thyroid dysfunction.]