One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet

I can’t believe it’s been one year since I had one of the biggest scares in my life. I’ve written more extensive posts about the entire journey, so you can go back and read those if you are interested.

Basically, I went for my annual exam and blood work which showed a low TSH level. More blood work showed the same. Thyroid ultrasound showed a nodule so I was sent to an endocrinologist who sent me for a biopsy. The biopsy was inconclusive so the only way to make sure it wasn’t cancer was to have a thyroidectomy.

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet
December 2017: Showing off my new haircut with a barely-noticeable scar.

I had never had a full surgery before that. I had an emergency cesarean when Ryan was born, but I didn’t have time to think about that and it wasn’t general anesthesia. I was scared to death. Scared of the procedure. Scared of the pathology showing cancer. Scared of not waking up from anesthesia. I was terrified that my boys would grow up without a mom, and they are so young they would forget me. I know, I was going to the worst thoughts, but at the moment, that was my fears.

Now, it’s been one year. 52 weeks. 365 days without having most of my thyroid. Thankfully, the pathology came back benign so I didn’t have thyroid cancer. I cried when the surgeon called. Cried tears of relief. My worst fears had been relieved.

The first few days were rough after surgery, but I made it through. So far, somehow, the one-third of a thyroid that I have left has been doing its job. The last time I had an appointment with the endocrinologist was at the end of December. At that time, my TSH levels were still within normal range and everything was feeling normal. I don’t have to go back until August or September and will have to do another ultrasound at that time to make sure that the thyroid isn’t growing back.

I still have a noticeable scar, but it’s still fading. Some days it seems to be more apparent than others. The most important thing I do for the scar is putting vitamin E oil on it a few days per week (when I remember) and make sure it is slathered in sunscreen when I go out in the sun.

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet
January 2018: In Florida for my cousin’s wedding.

So, one year out, and, for the most part, I feel great still. I am constantly on the watch for hypothyroidism which is when the thyroid underproduces the hormones my body needs. I do have a few of the symptoms, even though my levels are still in range. I find some days I am more exhausted even though I got decent sleep. Some days I am cranky for no apparent reason.

A few things that I’ve noticed over the last year since surgery:

  • I have a hard time swallowing sometimes. Not that I can’t, or it hurts, but occasionally I have to take my time and make a conscious effort.
  • Mow and then, my scar just bothers me still. It will sometimes be itchy or sore.
  • I have always been sensitive to things touching my neck (I can’t wear tight t-shirts) and it’s much worse now.
One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet
March 2018: Our traditional “night-before-the-birthday” photo for my youngest.

One thing I have not had to do with my thyroid issues is changing my diet. I have heard of many people having to go on a Low Iodine Diet or LID after having their thyroid removed or while having thyroid issues, even if they still have theirs intact.

The LID is usually for those who are about to have a radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment for their thyroid. RAI is used to help destroy any remaining thyroid cells and would have been necessary if my tumor had been malignant. Thyroid cells are the only ones in your body that take in iodine at these levels, so RAI will seek out those cells and destroy them. When a patient undergoes RAI, they are literally radioactive and have to be isolated for a few days!

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet
May 2018: With my oldest getting his information for Kindergarten!

I found this information on the American Thyroid Association website about the LID diet:

Breakfast
Any fruit or fruit juices
Egg Beaters
Oatmeal with toppings – cinnamon, honey, applesauce, maple syrup, walnuts, fruit
1 slice toast
Black coffee or tea

Lunch 
Vegetarian or chicken with rice soup
Matzo crackers
White or brown rice with vegetable plate (fresh or frozen)
Salad – fruit or vegetable – oil and vinegar dressing
Fruits – fresh, frozen or canned
Black coffee or tea

Dinner
6 oz Roast beef, lamb, veal, pork, or turkey
Potato – baked or broiled
Vegetables (fresh or frozen)
Salad – fruit or vegetable – oil and vinegar dressing
Fruits
Black coffee or tea

Snacks
Fresh fruit or juice
Dried fruits such as raisins
Fresh raw vegetables
Applesauce
Unsalted nuts
Fruit juice
Unsalted peanut butter (great with apple slices, carrot sticks, crackers or rice cakes)
Matzoh and other unsalted crackers
Home-made bread and muffins

Summary:
• No iodized salt
• No dairy products or foods containing dairy products
• No foods from the sea
• Limited grain products (ie noodles, pasta, pastries) – 1 slice bread, ½ cup pasta daily
• Limited amounts of beef, chicken, and turkey

AVOID THE FOLLOWING FOODS
  • Iodized salt
  • Any vitamins or supplements that contain iodine (especially kelp and dulse)
  • Milk or other dairy products including ice cream, cheese, yogurt and butter
  • Seafood including fish, sushi, shellfish, kelp or seaweed
  • Herbal supplements
  • Foods that contain the additive carrageen, agar-agar, alginate, or nori
  • Commercially prepared bakery products that are made with iodate dough conditioners
  • FD&C red dye #3 – this appears in maraschino cherries and occasionally as a pink/red artificial color in beverages
  • Egg yolks, whole eggs and foods containing whole eggs
  • Milk chocolate (due to dairy content)
  • Blackstrap Molasses (unsulfured molasses is fine)
  • Soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu) [note: soy does not contain iodine. However, high soy ingestion has been shown to interfere with radioactive iodine uptake in animal studies.]
FOODS THAT ARE OK
  • Non-iodized salt or non-iodized sea salt may be used as desired
  • Egg whites
  • Homemade bread made with non-iodized salt and oil (not soy!) instead of butter or milk or commercially-baked bread which do not contain iodate dough conditioners, dairy, or eggs
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Grain, cereal products and pasta without high iodine ingredients
  • Canned fruit
  • Natural unsalted nuts and nut butter (peanut, almond, etc)
  • Sodas, beer, wine, lemonade, fruit juices
  • Coffee or tea. But remember, no milk or cream and no soy-based non-dairy creamer!
  • Popcorn popped in vegetable oil or air popped, with non-iodized salt
  • Black pepper, fresh or dried herbs and spices, all vegetable oils
  • Sugar, jam, jelly, honey maple syrup
  • Matzoh crackers
ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES
  • Avoid restaurant foods since there is no reasonable way to determine which restaurants use iodized salt.
  • Consult your doctor before discontinuing any red-colored medication or any medication containing iodine (i.e., Amiodarone, expectorants, topical antiseptics).
  • Avoid all herbal supplements (especially when one is not sure how much iodine they contain).

Even though I don’t have to follow LID for health reasons, we’ve already been doing a few of these anyway and lowered our sodium intake. Sodium is high in iodine (iodized salt), and I am allergic to high amounts of iodine as it is.

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet
April 2018: At the beach with my mom, cousin, and aunts!

Related Thyroidectomy Posts:

One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet One Year Post-Thyroidectomy + Low Iodine Diet

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