Archive for January 2009

For some reason Jan. 5 rang a bell.  Ahh, yes, that was the date I had my thyroid surgery in 2001. The plan was to remove only part of the thyroid gland which had a fairly large nodule. But after further testing, the surgeon decided to take the whole thing.

In November 1999, I went to the doctor to see why I was having a difficult time getting pregnant. The first thing she did was look at my droopy eyes, feel my protruding neck and ask me if I had ever been diagnosed with thyroid disease. No, but it had been suggested by another doctor to get it checked about seven or eight years earlier.


Within the following several weeks, I had about 15 blood tests, an ultrasound and a fine-needle aspiration to test the nodule (otherwise known as a tumor).  No amount of pain killers or sedatives can relax you during the biopsy when a very long needle is stuck in the base of your neck and the doctor taps on it to get cells. Nine times. After all that, the results were still inconclusive and the surgery was set for Jan. 5.

A little background on the thyroid gland: It is a butterfly-shaped organ in the base of your neck. It basically controls your metabolism, so when its levels are out of whack, so are you. Because of that, it is often linked to weight gain. For a more scientific description, here’s a link.

When I woke up after my surgery, my husband had that concerned look on his face. What? Again, the tests were inconclusive and the entire gland was removed. More testing would have to be done. For a week I was convinced I had cancer and the treatments would be ongoing. At the follow-up appointment, the surgeon said it was not cancerous and I would go on thyroid-replacement hormone for the rest of my life.

Since then, I have taken a daily dose of Levothroid to replace the hormone my now non-existent thyroid gland would produce. At the time of my surgery a friend with thyroid disease said she wished she could have her gland removed to better regulate her levels. I have since discovered that is not necessarily the case. I have my levels checked (a simple blood test) every 3 to 6 months. There are times in between when I request it because of the way I feel.  Some of these symptoms include extreme fatigue, stiffness in the joints, shortness of breath, irritability and loss of concentration. Yes, I know most of these are common and could happen anytime, but when your thyroid levels are off, they are magnified.

Some sort of thyroid disease is fairly common, especially in women. However, many times it goes undiagnosed and untreated. I have often wondered if I would have had the surgery – the last resort – if I would have had my levels checked when my college doctor first suggested it.

If you consistently have the above-mentioned symptoms, ask your doctor to check your thyroid levels. Like I said, it’s a simple blood test and can be regulated by a daily pill. If you don’t like needles, just think of one going in your neck multiple times for a biopsy.


Just got back from the first post-holiday grocery shopping spree. For the past month or so (well, I have to include Thanksgiving, so two months) my trips to the store have resulted in egg nog, cookie ingredients, stuffed olives and other high-calorie indulgences.

This time I wasn’t planning for any dinners, parties or football games – just focused on the desire to eat healthier. I forgot how many good-for-you, low-fat, low-calories foods I actually like. Really like.

Previously, I mentioned my weakness for Ranch dressing and was seeking substitutes for my dipping obsession. Spicy brown mustard has zero calories and light raspberry pecan dressing has a fraction of Ranch. Other low-calorie, yet filling, snacks I seemed to have forgotten about include pickles, salsa and peppers.

There is an argument that it is more expensive to eat healthy. True, you can pick up generic Ding-Dongs and Twinkies for about a buck, but at the store where I shop, you can also snag a head of lettuce for 79 cents. With the right toppings, that will be good for at least three lunches.

My trip to the grocery store has given me renewed excitement about my journey to get my groove back. I can do this.

This New Year’s Eve was reminiscent of the final day of 2001. I didn’t go out and party on either; just stayed in and waited for the night – and the dreadful year – to end.

Both years had similarities. In March 2001 and March 2008 my family faced sudden unemployment, resulting in personal insecurity, bitterness and financial challenges. While the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks took thousands of lives and forever changed the world, the Floods of 2008 also had that same sense of Armageddon. I had that same eerie feeling during the flood and its aftermath as I did that fateful Tuesday in 2001 and the days following. In both years, the nation’s economy faltered with it finally sliding into an all-out recession in 2008.

But as 2002 brought new hope and joy into my life when my son was born in November, I am optimistic 2009 will also be a year of growth and personal prosperity. I am preparing for my 20-year class reunion which will probably be held in August or September, and I am determined to lose weight and get my groove back.

In 1999 I lost a bunch of weight with the protein diet. This was at my cousin's wedding in Washington state.

In 1999 I lost a bunch of weight with the protein diet. This was at my cousin's wedding in Washington state.

The journey will not be quick or achieved by drastic measures. In 1999, I shed about 35 pounds in three months with the protein diet. It basically consisted of meat, cheese and eggs. Milk, bread, pasta and even fruits and vegetables were off the list. I was faithful to the regimen for about eight months and then got bored with it. The 35 pounds came back within about month of returning those forbidden foods into my diet.


While I am just as serious about getting back into shape this time around, I am going to take a different approach. On New Year’s Day, I didn’t starve myself or give up all of my vices cold turkey. I was more conscientious of what I ate and when the Hawks mounted a three-touchdown lead in the Outback Bowl, my family and I went swimming (that is one of the perks of being married to a swimming coach with access to the pool).

I didn’t throw away the chips and bottle of Bailey’s that was already in the house, but it’s unlikely those types of items will make their way back into my kitchen anytime soon. Goal no. 1 is to replace the culprits with foods higher in nutrition and lower in calories. This also includes letting the Ranch dressing run out and not using it with nearly everything. I am a dipper – any suggestions to replace the Ranch?

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