Butterflies that bite

The symbol for thyroid problems is a butterfly…I’m guessing mostly because the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly, and not because it’s a beautiful and mystical creature that transforms from a caterpillar into a flying wonder. But maybe I’m wrong.

Anyway, I digress – I’ll blame my lack of a thyroid.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, I was going to give a quick update.


After my vocal chord was injected…a day I’d love to forget. But so grateful for the advances that allows little things like this to be easily “fixed.”

I had my thyroid removed a little over a month ago. The surgery was a success and I found out that I was lucky enough to have cancer on not one, but BOTH sides of my thyroid. Oh, and my vocal chord was paralyzed during the whole ordeal, which led to seven days of sounding like a chipmunk on helium. Did you know that shouting all the time, just to make enough noise to sound like a whisper, is exhausting? It is.

When the pathology report came back, the surgeon was surprised to learn that he did not remove multiple lymph nodes during the surgery. In fact, he managed to only catch one. That one was a clear lymph node, but not exactly a statistical slam-dunk when it comes to declaring lymph nodes cancer-free.

At my one week follow-up, the doctor felt that there was no predicting when my voice may return – if ever – and so he scheduled a surgery the next day to artificially prop up my vocal chord so that I could talk. It was supposed to be an “easy” 15-minute procedure.

But life never goes as expected, does it?

Things went a little haywire. I ended up with a chipped tooth and some sort of air pocket in my healing incision. Which led to me feeling as if I couldn’t breathe – or a condition they call stridor – where I sounded like a woman taking her last breath. It was scary. And it led to an unexpected stay in the hospital.

And now I’m waiting for another procedure. This time, after much discussion and thought, my endocrinologist recommends that we continue treatment with radioactive iodine. I can’t quite claim victory over cancer – but I’m a step closer.

My levels are wonky. My doctor is stumped. My voice comes and goes. My energy is non-existent. I’m crabby. I’m tired, but can’t sleep. My hair is falling out…again. And I’m gaining imaginary weight even though I’m eating less and exercising more.

***DISCLAIMER*** Moment of weakness and absolute honesty coming up: Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not mention to me in the next few days how I lucky I am to have the “easy” cancer.


The scar looks pretty good for a month out? A blessing for sure.

OK…I’m better now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

13 thoughts on “Butterflies that bite

  1. I just wanted you to get a “go girl” for being so brave as to share this personal hell on the internet. True heroines are hard to find these days. Haven’t ever met you but feel like I could hug you right now!

  2. Sorry for all you’ve been through, but your a tough Gal, Val, and you will make it through all of this with JESUS at your side! LOve and prayers, Rachel & Ken

  3. I am four years out from two surgeries for thyroid cancer, and had radioactive iodine twice. I completely understand what you are going through and went through a lot of it myself. No cancer is the easy or good cancer to get, I know I still (and always will) have concerns about recurrence or metastasis. You’re strong and I’m sure you won’t let anyone minimize your concerns or battle. Hang tough!

  4. You don’t know me. I know someone who knows you!!!

    I have struggled with thyroid issues for YEARS!!! Fought for my life hard , really hard until I found some real answers.

    I am Lynn Winkler on Facebook and would love to share what I have learned about what has worked and what hasn’t.

    It certainly isn’t a cute all, BUT slowly, I am getting my life back and have more and more energy.

    I am a mom of 7, 4 still at home ages 1-12. We live in the country and enjoy animals and country living.

  5. When I had half of my thyroid removed, the doctor also messed up my larynx. I couldn’t talk for over 6 wks. So here’s been my experience following that. After that surgery and bruising of my larynx if I had a cold, ate hot spices, chocolate etc..suddenly my throat would close and I would be fighting to breathe. After a minute or so it would get better. I couldn’t figure it out. This went on for years. About two years ago I had a bad cold and I coughed and I could not breathe–it was awful. I tho’t I was going to pass out. I ended up at the ER. Thankfully the doc knew what was wrong, gave me a saline solution to ease my throat. It’s called a laryngeal spasm and it generally happens when a person is drowning, your throat will spasm to keep the water out if drowning but since my throat was damaged thro surgery, it happens alot more often due to different triggers. I hope this doesn’t happen to you. Google it–be informed just in case so you’ll know what it is if it does happens. I relate to you, farm wife, four boys (now grown)..and unfortunately… thyroid [☹] Hang in there..


    • Yes!!! I thought I was crazy! There are times I have to visualize breathing because it feels so tight! Thank you for giving me a heads up. I’m definitely going to look this up. Thank you!!

  6. Glad to hear things are going better. I have a sister who went through that but not some of the extra problems you had. Best Wishes

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