“Highlighting the thyroid, what it does and thyroid conditions is a natural choice for me.”

Paul is a BTF trustee and is also a speaker at our 'Thyroid Surgery: What To Expect' webinar on 22 May 2024

What is your thyroid condition?

I was diagnosed with multinodular goitres. I had large goitres on either side and across the front of my neck. Despite this, my thyroid function levels remained in range.

What were your symptoms?

A lot of the time I just felt dreadful and so tired. I often woke with painful, light sensitive and bloodshot eyes. My breathing was affected. When swallowing, I would get food caught in my throat. The swellings on my neck would change size, getting bigger or smaller during the day. When the left side became enlarged this made me feel at my worst.

How was your condition picked up on and diagnosed?

I had been feeling quite tired for a while but put it down to work and the commute. 

Whilst away on holiday, I was shaving using a large illuminated mirror. It was then that I noticed my neck was swollen so I contacted my GP as soon as I got home.

My GP examined me and gave me a referral to an endocrinologist. The consultant undertook a vast array of tests (many several times) all of which came back normal. He then arranged for me to have an ultrasound scan and subsequently a CT scan. Following the tests and scans he confirmed I had multinodular goitres emanating from my thyroid. 

I then had consultations with an immunology consultant and finally with a surgeon who specialises in endocrine issues, in particular thyroidectomy.

Did you know anything about thyroid disease before your diagnosis?

No! The thyroid and the body’s endocrine system doesn’t appear to be high up in the public’s awareness or knowledge. I think the nicest explanation of the thyroid I've heard was that is the body's carburettor. This explains why if it isn’t functioning (running) properly it creates so many issues in the body.

What treatment have you undergone and how do you feel now?

I had a total thyroidectomy in early January 2024. The operation lasted just under three hours. Afterwards the surgeon advised that the goitres were significantly larger than the ultrasound had shown and what he had expected, especially the goitre on the left side of my neck.

Despite the soreness from the wound and in my throat immediately after the operation, I instantly felt much better than I had for quite some time.

What part of your diagnosis and treatment have you found especially difficult?

My diagnosis and subsequent treatment took a long time due to my thyroid functioning with levels within the expected range. The symptoms I was reporting were also felt to be unlikely to be caused by my thyroid and the goitres.

After a couple of consultations with the surgeon, and a further ultrasound three years after the initial one, it was clear that there had been significant growth in the goitres . This convinced him to do the thyroidectomy. I knew it was the right thing to do as I couldn’t carry on feeling so poorly.

Is there anything that particularly helped you understand more about your condition or to feel better supported?

I found the BTF’s publications, guidance and webinar recordings, especially the one on thyroid nodules and goitres with Prof. Mark Strachan, very useful. I also found reading about Judith Nicholas and her journey with multinodular goitre, which featured on BBC2’s Your Body Uncovered programme, helpful.

What motivated you to become involved in the BTF’s work and how would you like to make a difference in your capacity as BTF trustee?

In my day job as a health and safety professional, I spend a lot of time raising awareness of issues and undertaking tasks to improve things for those around me on our construction sites. I have also been a Trustee, Chair and President of the Royal Society of Health. Both of these activities made applying as a BTF Trustee and actively highlighting the thyroid, what it does and thyroid conditions, a natural choice for me.

Paul was a speaker at our 'Meet the experts' webinar on thyroid surgery held in May 2024. You can hear more about his experiences on the link below.

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