I Had a Thyroid Once

I had a thyroid once

I feel better now than I did before my thyroidectomy.

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LID Day 1: Crockpot Chicken and Homemade Chicken Broth

I still don’t have confirmation from my oncologist about the date of my RAI, but I decided to start the low-iodine diet (LID) today anyway, just in case March 14th happens. I had an appointment with the surgeon this morning and needed a quick LID breakfast. Even though, I have been thinking about LID and preparing some foods ahead of time, I was not prepared for a quick breakfast. I’ve picked up a few LID-allowed ingredients, but was planning my main grocery shopping trip this afternoon, when I could get a babysitter to watch my 4 year old. I needed to be able to read labels and you can’t take the time to read labels when you have kids with you. I ended up cutting up an apple and smearing it with cashew butter (with no added salt). I washed it down with a Coke. I usually drink coffee in the morning, but I like my coffee with lots of cream and sugar and I can’t have cream (and don’t have a non-dairy coffee creamer yet), so I had a Coke instead.

Minutes before I headed out the door to my appointment, I place a whole chicken in the crockpot on low, seasoned it with kosher salt and black pepper, and replaced the lid. It was perfectly cooked 8 hours later. Crockpot Chicken is so easy to prepare that even someone in the throes of hypo Hell could pull it off. Making stock from the left over bones and skin is super easy too.

Crockpot Chicken (640x480)

Crockpot Chicken

1 whole chicken (I prefer hormone and antibiotic free)
non-iodized (I use Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt) salt and black pepper to taste

Some whole chickens have a packet of giblets inside. Remove any giblets and save for making stock. Rinse the chicken in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the whole chicken in the crockpot. Season with non-iodized salt and pepper. There is no need to add any liquid but you could add other flavoring ingredients like garlic, herbs, vegetables (carrots, celery, onion), or citrus fruits (lemons, limes) at this time. I like crockpot chicken with a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary and a whole lemon (cut in half). Replace the lid and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. The meat will be tender, moist, and falling off the bone. Remove all the meat and return the bones, skin, and any left over bits to the crockpot to make stock.

Crockpot Chicken Stock

chicken bones and skin from Crockpot Chicken
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, scrubbed and chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of whole pepper corns
non-iodized salt (I use Morton’s Coarse Kosher Salt), to taste

Once your whole chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the crockpot. Remove all the meat and return any bones, skin, and anything leftover to the crockpot. Add the reserved giblets, if you have them. Add the chopped onion, celery, and carrot, as well as, the garlic cloves, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Fill the crockpot almost to the top with filtered water. Cook in the crockpot on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Making Chicken Stock (640x480)

Season to taste with non-iodized salt. When stock has finished cooking, ladle into a fine sieve to strain out the bones, veggies, herbs, etc… You can line the sieve with cheesecloth or a paper towel to strain the finer bits, if you like.

Straining Chicken Stock (640x458)

Refrigerate the stock. The fat will rise to the top and solidify. Skim off the fat before using the stock. I measure out the stock in 2 cups portions and freeze in a labeled Ziploc freezer bag for future use. It is okay if your stock is gelatinous. Some people prefer it that way and think it’s more nutritious. It will liquefy when heated.

Today’s LID Menu:

Breakfast: An apple with cashew butter and a Coca-Cola
Lunch: A steamed artichoke with a dipping sauce made with lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic
Dinner: Chicken breast (from Crockpot Chicken), pan-fried potatoes, and fresh green beans
Snack: Slice of no sodium whole wheat bread smeared with unsalted peanut butter and cherry preserves and 1/2 a banana

Here’s a picture of tonight’s dinner:

LID Day 1 Dinner (640x480)

Products I used today:

365 brand cashew butter from Whole Foods
Trader Joe’s No Sodium Whole Wheat Bread
Trader Joe’s Unsalted Peanut Butter
Smucker’s Cherry Preserves
Hunt’s Ketchup – No Salt Added

Second Post-Op Appointment

The bad weather held out long enough so that I was able to make it to my appointment with the surgeon today. Thank goodness! I was ready to get the 38 staples in my neck removed. It was a bit uncomfortable as he removed each staple, but I felt much better afterwards. The incision doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would, although my neck still looks a little shocking. The doctor didn’t put gauze over my incision and I had to walk out into the main office full of people. Lovely.

38 staples out

I could feel people staring. I didn’t care, though. I had just gotten some good news. My surgeon had the final pathology report. The lymph nodes he removed during the surgery were clear of malignancy. The samples from the neck tissue around my thyroid were also clear. I think he also said that the samples taken from the thyroid around the nodule didn’t contain cancer. I can’t remember the details. I wish I had a copy of the report to be sure. I’ll have to remember to ask the oncologist for a copy. It appears I caught this thing early, but I’m cautiously optimistic. I will have a full body scan in 6 to 8 weeks. When that comes back clear, I will feel much better.

I also found out from the pathology report that I have the follicular variant of papillary thyroid cancer. It was located in the right lobe of my thyroid and measured 1.4 cm. A microcarcinoma measuring 1 mm was found in the left lobe of my thyroid and it was pure papillary thyroid cancer. I am so glad the whole thyroid was removed. I will have to undergo a radioactive iodine treatment (RAI) in 6 to 8 weeks to ablate any remaining thyroid tissue.

Another interesting piece of information contained in the report was that my thyroid was severely damaged due to Hashimoto’s disease. Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disorder that attacks the thyroid. It is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 12 years ago. I have been tested for Hashimoto’s in the past by two different doctors and was told by both I didn’t have it. Hashimoto’s tends to cause a rise in certain thyroid antibodies and mine were never elevated. I also never had typical Hashimoto’s symptoms. Even though it wasn’t previously detected, it apparently did a number on my thyroid. My surgeon said my thyroid was shriveled and hard, almost rubbery. I am so happy it is gone. My thyroid was rubbish and I expect I will feel much better now that it is out of me.

I’m 11 days out from my thyroidectomy and honestly, I feel pretty good. I’ve been able to keep taking Synthroid (although I prefer Levoxyl and can’t wait for it to be back on the market). I think I have an advantage since I was hypothyroid and on meds before having a thyroidectomy. I hope that means I won’t have to adjust my dose much. I’m not looking forward to getting off my meds to prepare for RAI. I can’t imagine how terrible I am going to feel.

I was scheduled to meet with the oncologist on the 13th, but the appointment was cancelled because of ice and snow. The appointment was rescheduled for the 21st. I will know more about the next steps then.

Sneak Peak of My Post-Surgery Neck

It’s been 4 days since my total thyroidectomy. I got a sneak peak at my post-surgery neck today. Horrifying. I haven’t even seen the whole thing, but my husband has. He says it’s not symmetrical and he thinks that is going to drive me insane (I’m a bit OCD). We will see. It may not bother me at all.

sneak peak neck

I’m feeling a little better each day. I was totally unprepared for the level of exhaustion and weakness I am feeling. So grateful that my mom is here to help with the house and kids. She amazes me.

Saw my surgeon today. He had not received the final pathology report yet. I’ll have to wait another week. I’ll feel better once I find out that it has not spread to the lymph nodes. His office set up an appointment for me to meet with an oncologist next week. I’m cleared to get my incision wet and take a shower tomorrow. I’m happy about being able to shower again. The little things.