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Hyperparathyroidism and Hypothyroidism

I awoke from a surgery with half of my thyroid gland removed. This was completely unexpected and I was left with a desperate, hopeless feeling that my body had been unjustly mutilated. My surgery was intended to remove a malfunctioning parathyroid gland, but the surgeon was unable to find the offending tiny gland. Hoping that the rice sized parathyroid gland had imbedded itself in my thyroid gland, the surgeon removed the left half of my thyroid. It was unsuccessful.

The parathyroid glands are four tiny glands that are responsible for regulating calcium in the blood. On occasion one of the glands will malfunction and grow a non-cancerous tumor (adenoma). This causes the gland to produce too much parathyroid hormone, which in turn stimulates the body to release excess calcium stored in the bones into the blood. This may cause osteoporosis and damage to internal organs over time.

Many of the symptoms associated with hyperparathyroidism are the exact same symptoms associated with hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms include: brain fog, constipation, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain in the joints, cold hands and feet, and thinning hair.

Prior to my surgery, I had several scans and ultrasounds to determine the location of the parathyroid adenoma. Urine collection tests did not indicate any excess calcium and bone scans showed only very minimal bone loss, not abnormal for a woman in my age range. My blood calcium and parathyroid hormone levels were slightly elevated. Normally the parathyroid glands are located behind the thyroid gland, but they can be found as far north as the jaw and as far south as the chest/heart region. None of the parathyroid glands could be located as a result of the scans.

During my surgery, the surgeon removed one slightly enlarged gland, which turned out to be completely normal and, as mentioned, half of my thyroid gland. He also removed two nodules from my thyroid. At no time prior to the surgery was the possibility of removing any portion of my thyroid gland ever discussed.

When I met with the surgeon a couple of days after surgery, he told me the surgery was a total failure and that he wanted to do more tests and a second surgery six months hence which would involve opening my chest and exploring the area near my heart. When I responded with dissatisfaction, he asked if I needed to see a psychiatrist to prescribe me some anxiety medication. Needless to say, I have never seen that surgeon again!

After I recovered from the initial trauma and hormonal upset of having half of my thyroid removed, I started on a path to learn how to support the remaining half of my thyroid. I have immersed myself with everything thyroid and taking personal responsibility for my health decisions has been extremely healing and gratifying.

I learned that the thyroid gland also has a role in regulating blood calcium levels by producing a hormone called calcitonin. Calcitonin counteracts parathyroid hormone. Patients who suffer from hypothyroidism and hyperparathyroidism often also suffer from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis often occurs as a result of the body being too acidic. In his book, Hypothyroidism Type 2, Dr. Mark Starr says, “In order to buffer the acidity, the body attempts to alkalinize the blood by leaching calcium from the bones into the bloodstream.”

Dr. Jerry Tennant is a pioneer in the relationship of overall health to the pH balance in the body. Dr. Tennant believes that hypothyroidism causes increased acidity. His research “has shown that correcting hypothyroidism often restores the alkalinity required for optimal health.” When an alkaline status is achieved, osteoporosis can be corrected and blood calcium levels normalize.

I believe strongly in the information provided by Drs. Starr and Tennant. I am currently working with Dr. Starr to correct my thyroid problems. Bringing my body into an alkaline state and correcting my thyroid and parathyroid function is being addressed through dietary changes, adrenal support, body detoxification, nutritional support and thyroid medication. I feel so fortunate to be working with a doctor who believes in treating me as an individual and tailoring a series of remedies to my specific needs.

My experience has led me to believe that there is not a one size fits all approach to healing the human body. The body is supremely capable of healing itself when the correct environment is provided. My treatment is a work in progress, but this approach has not caused me to lose any necessary body parts or sent my hormones into frenzy. I can report with all honesty that I feel healthier, stronger and more focused than I can remember in many years.

As with all medical opinion, please discuss your thoughts, opinions and treatments with your own physician.
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