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Silent Illness Can Impact Your Life

February 1st, 2016

Karen's story

When Karen Hedgecorth found out she had a problem with her parathyroid, it took her completely by surprise. The married 69 year old was so busy spending time with her husband, Ernie, children and grandchildren, while still working full time as a school librarian, she hadn’t noticed any significant changes in her health. 

The purpose of the parathyroid glands is to help your body control calcium levels in a person’s blood. When calcium levels get out of line, people can experience a range of symptoms including: low energy, feeling tired, loss of appetite, muscle weakness, bone or joint pain, constipation, anxiety or depression, kidney stones, bone loss, broken bones and hypertension. 

Karen’s primary care physician noticed her calcium levels were higher than normal and suggested she see a surgeon about her options. She was referred to S. Michael Roe, M.D., board certified endocrine surgeon at University Surgical Associates. Dr. Roe performed an ultrasound and discovered a tumor on Karen’s lower right parathyroid.

“Dr. Roe gave me a choice about surgery and said I could wait and see when until I started experiencing symptoms,” says Karen. “But I knew that kidney stones, osteoporosis and memory fog were potential problems, and I didn’t want to wait.”

Karen scheduled her surgery for early summer 2015 after she finished with responsibilities at school. Her surgery was simple, and required only one of her parathyroid glands to be removed. After going into surgery around 10 a.m., she was in recovery by noon and heading home by 2 p.m. She went home and rested, but her main complaint was a sore throat that disappeared by the second day.

After surgery, Karen did make slight changes in her dietary supplements. By removing one parathyroid, her calcium level decreased meaning she needed to take an additional calcium supplement like a calcium chew. She also continued taking a multivitamin with Vitamin D included.

“Dr. Roe shared with me that many people don’t even realize that they aren’t feeling great before the surgery and can tell a big difference,” says Karen. “I’m thankful I could take care of this problem before the symptoms had an impact on my life.” 

For more information about endocrine surgery and common thyroid problems, click here.





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