In February, 2018, I woke up one morning with a racy feeling and thought, I seem to be having a panic attack. Over the next few days, I had one after the other until I felt stuck in a panic attack without end. With my blood pressure spiking to 186/112, I asked my husband to drive me to the emergency room. There, the very nice doctor ran a few tests, handed me a pamphlet that described “generalized anxiety disorder,” gave me a dose of the anti-anxiety drug Ativan, and sent me on my way.
Over the next nightmare days, truly fearing for my sanity, I showed up at my primary care physician’s office, stoned on Ativan to keep me calm, trying to explain that I felt like I was trapped in a bad acid trip while jacked up on eighteen cups of coffee. I submitted to various tests, including collecting my urine for 24 hours to measure the adrenaline output (negative). Finally, two weeks after my trip to the ER, a blood test showed suppressed TSH (it had been not been low at the time my blood was taken at the hospital).
Now, although my TSH was suppressed, my actual thyroid numbers (T3 and T4) were still normal; in fact, they were optimal. My antibody test was also normal, meaning no autoimmune disease was in play. The doctor told me that although my thyroid was a little “overactive,” because my hormone levels were normal, there wasn’t much to be done but “keep an eye on it.” Luckily for me, she did order a thyroid scan. The scan came back showing “an area” of increased iodine uptake. I was sent off to an endocrinologist, who performed an ultrasound right there in his office, which revealed seven nodules over both lobes of my thyroid, including a 2.5 cm nodule that was obviously the autonomous culprit.
A diagnosis! I wasn’t crazy after all. When the endo offered me a prescription for Methimazole to suppress my thyroid, I almost grabbed his hand and kissed it. He said it would take about a month for it to “kick in,” and I’d have to come back in a month to biopsy the nodules to rule out cancer. Fine, fine ...
I am Teena Booth Vance, a writer living in my California dream house with my dream husband, and a not-so-dreamy health condition. In March 2018, at the age of 54, and after years of “weird episodes” of a racy, jumpy heartbeat, insomnia and out-of-nowhere panic attacks, I was diagnosed with subclinical hyperthyroidism from a hot thyroid nodule. Now I am learning everything I can about the troublesome thing – and how to live with it – and I’m ready to share.