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Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Post Published: 23 March 2010
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Category: Dear Thyroid Letters
This post currently has 24 responses. Leave a comment

(Written by Kelsey Spellman, Thyroidectomy caused by benign nodules)

Dear Thyroid,

You’re a sneaky little gland, you know that? You’re so sneaky; I didn’t even really know who you were or what you did. I went to the doctor’s office because I was having migraines. I left with a sinus infection and an appointment for an ultrasound on you.

So thyroid, confused but content, I came back home from college and had that ultrasound. Those results came back and it was worse than we thought. Did you know you made my mom cry? Yep, she sat there with my dad at the table over dinner and told her youngest daughter that what the doctors thought might just be a thyroid disease, really wasn’t. She told me that I had to go see a surgeon to have a biopsy. A biopsy! I’m a journalism major, not pre-med, the only thing I knew about a biopsy was that people who have cancer have biopsies. That ultrasound found two nodules sitting on you. I’m sure you knew them both quite well.

At this point thyroid, I’m not so content. I again come home from college, this time to go see a surgeon. You do know college isn’t easy right? I didn’t want to come home this often. I get to the surgeon and good news, no biopsy! Bad news, those two nodules were huge. I mean really huge. So huge, one was starting to push my windpipe out of place! I really think you could have tried to stop that.

Guess what? More bad news, thyroid. I had to have surgery right at the beginning of my summer break. I mean literally that very first week I was done with my sophomore year of college; I spent two days in the hospital and the other five in my bedroom. What exactly was my surgery? I had you removed. In fact, I had all of you removed. Yep, the surgeon didn’t leave one particle of you in my throat.

Do you know the worst part of it all, thyroid?,   The wait. That week that my family and I waited to see if those nodules were benign or malignant was hell. No one talked about it. I didn’t bring it up. Mostly because of how much pain I was in but also because I didn’t want to. Guess what happened again, thyroid? You made my mom cry. Except this time it was because my surgeon told us that those pesky huge nodules were benign. I’ll be honest, thyroid, I cried too.

I don’t know how you found me. No one else in my family has ever had thyroid disease. I was a healthy athletic 19-year old. But you know what, thyroid? It kinda makes sense. I was runner in high school and that last year I couldn’t breathe right when I ran. I gained weight. Now I know why; you were too busy making friends with those two nodules.

So now here we are. Getting blood work done more than I could have ever wanted (did I mention blood is my biggest fear?) and stressing;a lot. I keep gaining weight and I don’t like it. I don’t want to sound melodramatic, thyroid, but gaining weight when you’re a 20-year old female and not having control over stopping it is not a fun thing. Having people come up to you at parties and ask if someone slit your throat is also not a fun thing.

Before you, I was confident. I was secure. Now thyroid, not so much. I don’t like having these body image issues, but I have them. I don’t like feeling like I’m fat when I’m not. Did you know that I used to be skinny?,   I mean really skinny, like my driver’s license says “Weight: 100 lbs…,   I want to be me again thyroid, please. Those pills I take now to replace you, I think they be the cause of all this. They make me tired too. When you’re in college, thyroid, you don’t have time to be tired.

But what am I going to do now, huh? You’re gone and I barely got to know you. You know you could have waited for all of this to happen when I was older. Do you know how many people have said to me, “Oh dear, that’s very young to have thyroid disease. Most people get this disease when they’re older…,   I get it. I’m young. And I’m stuck with this forever.

So thanks for all the trouble, thyroid; I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.

Kelsey

Bio: My name is Kelsey Spellman and I am 20 years old. I had a total thyroidectomy when I was 19 after my doctor found two nodules on my thyroid gland. Everything came back benign. I don’t have cancer. I don’t have graves. I don’t have hypo or hyperthyroidism. I just don’t have a thyroid.

—

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24 Responses to “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”

  1. Monica says:

    Kelsey,

    Your letter moved me beyond words. *sniff sniff*

    You are young but the thyroid does not care about your age. And no matter what your age is, you will always be young in heart and soul.

    Thank you for sharing your poignant words with us.

    ☮ ♥

  2. Dear Thyroid says:

    Thorougly agreed, Monica. I was deeply moved by Kelsey’s letter, too.

    Your sage advice is so heartfelt and true.

    xo

  3. Christina says:

    Kelsey, thank you for sharing. I also have had a “healthy” thyroid until I recently had a thyroid ultasound ordered by my fertility specialist. They found 6 nodules. How large were yours?

  4. Trish says:

    What a powerful letter! (brought tears to my eyes!) You are a very strong young woman!
    I can definitely relate to you on the “used to be really skinny” part. Now I can see why my friends and family hated me all those years when I could eat anything I wanted, never exercise at all and not gain an ounce. Controlling weight gain is HARD WORK and a 24/7 battle of watching what you eat and exercising all the time. And it’s hard to get in enough exercise when you’re always exhausted, thanks to your tyroid… or lack of a thyroid.

  5. Joanna says:

    Kelsey, what an awesome letter! Trying to deal with school by itself is challenge enough…throw in thyroid issues and it’s nearly impossible. You are right–we are stuck with this life forever. Getting to the point where “forever” is something to look forward to rather than something to hide from is no easy task. I’m so glad you shared your story. Walking into forever with other people by your side makes it a little more tolerable.

    xo,
    Joanna

  6. Robyn says:

    Oh Kelsey, I am so sorry!
    When I was in college all I had to worry about were good grades and cheap beer. I can’t imagine all the added stress and turmoil of your diagnosis AND now dealing with trying to become “balanced” without a thyroid gland.
    I can tell you this, though. I can tell from your letter that you are one helluva strong woman–much stronger than I was at your age–and this will be the thing you need to focus on. It may sound trite or cliched, but YOU will get you through this, I have no doubt!

  7. Hypogirl says:

    Kelsey, so sorry to hear about you having to have your thyroid removed. Going to school is stressful enough now add cancer and it can get downright unbearable.

    I have struggled a lot with the self esteem issues and it is very difficult to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and kick you own ass into gear. Especially with hypo! But I work on it each day and am slowly getting better.

    I hope the rest of your college years are packed with a ton of energy and good grades.

  8. Donna says:

    I was luckier than you as I only had a large nodule on one side of my thyroid-my surgeon took a gamble that it was not cancerous so he only removed the right side and I waited vey anxiously for the biopsy-if it were cancerous the left one had to come out too. Turned out to be benign like yours-he said that he could “feel” that it wasnt cancerous when he opened me up-but of course he couldnt tell me this till the path report came back. My first blood test gave me correct T numbers which means that the left side is picking up the function (actually it probably was the only side functioning for a very long time.) Another test in 2 months and then every 6 months-so far no need for medication.
    Wear your scar like a badge of honor, girlfriend-we licked it!

  9. HD inOregon says:

    Kelsey,

    Very powerful letter! Well written. I feel with you. I wish you all the best, and energy and balance (with your thyroid meds).

    Am a thycan survivor too!

    HD in Oregon

  10. amy says:

    A great letter! Sounds like you have a wonderful supportive family! Yay for that! I am sorry for your loss at such a young age. I feel like being diagnosed w/ Hashimotos at the age of 26(I think) is so young. Whenever we are at a major milestone in our lives and we get a diagnoses of something it is hard to swallow. I still feel not so much angry but hurt that I will never know what it will be like to be a disease free mother.
    Keep writing…you are great at it!

  11. Dear Thyroid says:

    Christina – What did they say about your thyroid nodules? How did you know they were there pre-ultrasound? OR did you?

    xo

  12. Dear Thyroid says:

    Trish – You’re absolutely right. When our bodies change from being thin to severely obese or just much heavier, it’s insanely frustrating. On the flip side, those struggling to gain weight have the same issue…

  13. Dear Thyroid says:

    Getting to the point where “forever” is something to look forward to rather than something to hide from is no easy task. Beautifully said, Joanna.

  14. Dear Thyroid says:

    Robyn;

    You’re absolutely right! Kelsey will get there. I can’t imagine, as you said, going through college enduring what she has. She’s a fighter, to be sure.

    Kelsey – you aren’t alone. We’re all here for you.

    xo

  15. quin browne says:

    well written–just so spot on. i’m glad you were cancer free.. your thyroid made me cry, too.

  16. Dear Thyroid says:

    Very proud of you for saying this I have struggled a lot with the self esteem issues and it is very difficult to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and kick you own ass into gear. Especially with hypo! But I work on it each day and am slowly getting better. HYPOGIRLIE

  17. Dear Thyroid says:

    Donna – Please keep us posted on your pathology results.

    Love, love, love this Wear your scar like a badge of honor, girlfriend-we licked it! YOU ARE RIGHT, thysistah

  18. HD inOregon says:

    Yes, Kelsey, wear your scar like a badge of honor!

    I tell people that I got my scar when I defended the White House in the war of 1812 against the Red Coats. – It usually takes a second or two, until they get it.
    😉

    HD

  19. Dear Thyroid says:

    HD – I found Kelsey’s letter to be very powerful, too.

    Survivor you are

  20. Kezia says:

    That was beautiful, sad, and touching. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Caitlyn says:

    Thanks for a great letter. I enjoyed reading it.

    I became acquainted with my thyroid about 4 years ago when a doctor felt lumps on my thyroid and instructed me to get them checked. At the time, the largest one was 9mm. Two biopsys later, I was no further ahead. Also I am neither hypo- nor hyper- thyroid. ,  Now I have 2 that are 11mm, and I just had my forth biopsy yesterday (ouch) and I don’t know if I will ever be friends with my thyroid. (We aren’t even on speaking terms today). ,  

  22. Elena says:

    Kelsey–
    Thank you so much for such a strong, powerful letter. I’m currently a college senior, and have been dealing with hypothyroidism for the past year and a half. While getting a thyroid disorder cannot be pleasant at any stage of life, I’ve found myself getting especially angry at fellow college students. It’s typical to resent those who can do supposedly “easy” tasks that you now struggle with. But college students in particular tend to take their bodies for granted and abuse them–we’re young, we’re supposed to bounce back, right? I really connected with your line: “when you’re in college, thyroid, you don’t have time to be tired.” We’re supposed to be tired because of pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper, or staying up late dancing, not because of a gland that few, if any, of our friends can locate!
    But hang in there–you’re not alone! And learning to take care of myself has been (and I’m sure will continue to be) one of the most trying and rewarding experiences of my life.
    much love!

  23. Lolly says:

    Kelsey,

    sorry youhad to go through all this at such a young age like someone else said the thyroid knows no age nor does it descriminate against sex or gender.

    I too went through the same thing as you only to find out that my large nodule and a few small ones were benign.

    You are strong and I am sure you will get throught this it just takes time and eduction.

    Great letter.

    Lolly

  24. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by katieschwartz: New letter via Dear Thyroid http://bit.ly/cEku5L “Why Can’t We Be Friends”. Kelsey’s honesty takes my wig off. Check it out/send love 🙂 thx…

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