Greetings from Staten Island… It’s actually a really beautiful day out, and I am sitting here on the boardwalk looking out at Manhattan. I should make a quick Facebook video so everyone can see it. Please Hold….
I actually have some amazing news… as of this week, I am officially a “Thyroid Thriver.” That’s right people… the piece I wrote for Thyroid Nation is up. I AM PUBLISHED ON A REAL WEBSITE. I’m not gonna lie, it does give my ego a little bit of a boost knowing that something I wrote can be seen by people all over the world, but this really is bigger than just me and my ego. In reality, I’m only the third male to ever be given the title of “Thyroid Thriver,” so that in itself is a huge honor. When I started on this whole crazy Thyroid journey, I knew nothing about nothing, and it would have been great to have an outlet like Thyroid Nation at the time. So hopefully, my story can help someone going through what I have.
Have you seen my piece yet? YOU HAVEN’T? Well that’s about to change… here it is: Hashimoto Who? 10 Things I Had To Learn About My Thyroid
I need to really thank Raina for reading the Fantastic Voyage blog I posted a few weeks back, and nominating me as a “Thriver.” I also want to thank Danna and the entire Thyroid Nation family for giving me the opportunity and the outlet to help others. This really is such a dream come true for me. And now I’m tearing up!
As Beyoncé once said... Embrace your past, but live for now!
Have you ever wondered why certain movies or books get a sequel? They say that timing and the demand are everything, so with the publication of my Thyroid Nation piece, I felt it was the appropriate time to do a Where Are They Now style sequel to the Fantastic Voyage blog that inspired the publication. And what’s great about it is I don’t have to do a recap, because you can just click the link above and read it for yourself. GO AHEAD... I'LL WAIT!
The day after I wrote and posted Fantastic Voyage was probably the lowest point of this entire ride for me. I went in for tests to check lumps found in my lungs and on my Thyroid. The CT Scan of my chest went quickly and painlessly, but the Sonogram of my Thyroid was a whole other story. The technician would not say a word to me other than when to turn. At one point, I actually felt the wand roll over a lump in my neck, and there was a sharp pain that went through me. I knew something was not right, and could not stop crying. We even had to stop mid-test so I could throw up. I walked out of my appointment hysterical. I cried that entire day, at times in the bathroom of my office. I had never been so afraid in my entire life, and all I wanted was someone to hold my hand and tell me I would be fine.
I received the test results rather quickly. The CT Scan of my chest showed that the lump by my Lung was a 2mm benign calcium node. Unfortunately, the Sonogram confirmed a 4mm nodule on the right side of my Thyroid that the Endocrinologist was concerned about. But because the nodule was small, she said she didn’t want to biopsy it. Instead she decided we should wait six months and then do another Sonogram to see if it grew. Sitting and waiting around for months to see if I had Cancer didn’t sit well with me (still doesn’t really), but I hesitantly agreed.
The following day, I went for a Sonogram of my Abdomen for my Gastroenterologist. It was a completely different experience from the day before. The technician was so sweet, and was explaining to me what she was doing and what she saw. She was trying to cheer me up by saying how courageous I was. I would love to say she succeeded, but my mind was just not there. Those tests came back, and according to my GI, I have the liver of an overweight diabetic. He said that this was something he planned to stay on top of, and the results could possibly be because of all the different medications I was on.
By this point, I had gone to nine doctor appointments in three days (it was the week of Memorial Day), and I just could not fight anymore. I definitely felt defeated, and even said I didn't think I would come back from it all. The only place I found some comfort in was Biofeedback. My doctor was amazing, and I enjoyed learning different calming techniques. As down as I was, I noticed I really wasn't getting irritated or angry as I had in the past, and I realized that, at least mentally, things were slowly changing for the better. I was getting back control of my emotions and mental functions. I also was opening up more to my friends and family about what I was going through. Biofeedback turned out to be the silver lining in a terrible situation, and I stand here today a convert, and would recommend it to anyone.
It's been about 7 weeks from that dark period in my life known as "Hell Week," and I can honestly say that ever since my Endocrinologist lowered my Synthroid dosage, things have turned around significantly. My energy has returned in a totally new way, I am hardly ever tired, and my brain function is in such a positive place. I have started trying different exercise styles, from Zumba to Insanity, and keep my mind and body Zen through meditation and yoga. Biofeedback helped me get back into writing again, not only through my website and blogging, but through journaling as well. It's amazing how much clarity you get when you put the word to paper, and look back at it.
My weight, which has been a serious concern the last few months, has also improved. As of my last doctor's visit, I have officially put on 23 pounds, and weigh in at 134 pounds. I know that sounds low, but the fact that my appetite has returned, and the scales are now going up from 111 pounds is a personal triumph. My next step is seeing a nutritionist, and getting myself on the correct diet for dealing with my autoimmune disease.
As far as doctor appointments go, I am appointment free for at least the next three months… and both my sanity and wallet really appreciate it. I have even been taken off of most of my original medications. Apparently, with my lower weight and the proper Synthroid dosage, my blood pressure and cholesterol have gotten under control. Can I get a WOO HOO up in here?
With all the positive things happening to me health-wise, the thing I am most proud of is how much my attitude has changed. Many people have noted that I seem like a completely different person, and like a huge burden had been lifted off of me. And in a way, they are right. With all the crap going on, between my Thyroid and the stroke, my brain was completely messed up, and vulnerable to negativity. Add to that being told what a bad person I was and all the things I was doing to offend people, I started to really believe it. Knowing what I know now, I get to laugh it all off. I know who I am, and the people who really know me and care about me know that most of the nonsense said was/are the furthest things from the truth. The way I am seen now is how people have known me my whole life, so I’m glad that people get to see that person… they see Sebastian. My Endocrinologist actually gave me the greatest compliment last week at my appointment. She said that I look so radiantly healthy and happy, and the reality is I actually am.
Don’t get me wrong; everything is not all sunshine and roses. I still have several things going on as a result of my illness. One of the biggest issues is that I am constantly itchy, which is common for people with Thyroid issues. I try my hardest not to scratch all the time, but I am human after all. Another side effect from having an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto is it attacks your hair follicles, so depending on how stressed I am, it will look like my hair is falling out. Recently, I chopped my hair off because it was coming out in clumps, and freaked me out. Not in a vanity way though, because I know I would look hot even with a shaved head. After all, I am a former model LOL!
In all sincerity, I have found the last few months to be a blessing in disguise. I have joined several Thyroid groups, and I read what a lot of other people go through everyday. So I look at what I’m going through, and how I got off easy compared to some others, and I appreciate my life and all the wonderful opportunities brought to me. Having to shave my head, scratch an itch, or take a pretty pink pill is no biggie. And as much as I hate it (and even cheat here and there), giving up soda and candy really isn’t the end of the world, when there are others having their Thyroids removed, going through radiation treatments or can’t get out of bed at all.
Taking on all these health issues lit a fire under my ass, and pushed me to do things I have always wanted to do, and many doors opened for me. One of which was this website, and through it, I have gotten the opportunity to meet and speak with others going through similar situations as me. Over Fourth of July weekend, I sat with a mom who has a child with Hypothyroidism. My heart went out to her because knowing what I deal with, I can only imagine what her child, who can’t articulate what’s going on, goes through daily. And how that affects her everyday life. I sat with her for over an hour and just listened to her story, and gave her whatever advice I could. I know I am no doctor or therapist, but knowing how I felt in the past, I know that by just listening, it meant the world to her, which in turn meant the world to me.
Through telling my story, dozens of people (including some of my closest friends and even my own sister) have reached out to thank me for inspiring them to get their Thyroids checked. I cannot begin to express what a great feeling it is to know that I was able to reach out and help others. That makes everything I have been struggling with worth it in the end.
So here I am on this glorious July day. I’ve been through hell, but at this moment in time, I am kicking Hashimoto's ass. However, the struggle is definitely real, and far from over. Anyone going through this, or any autoimmune disease, can tell you that this is something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. There will be lots of great days, and there will be times when my levels will be completely off again, and I will struggle. But I am up for the challenge, thanks to all I have learned along the way, and all the love and support from my family, friends and medical team.
Until next time…