I suffered with hyperparathyroidism for over 4 years. (Check out pics of my tumors above) I didn’t know I had hyperparathyroidism because I didn’t even know what that was, and my primary care doctor said I was fine. So I did what most people do and believed what my doctor said. All I knew was that I was experiencing terrible “menopause” symptoms of rapid heartbeat, GERD, and osteopoenia which has since led to osteoporosis, among other less dangerous symptoms such as irritability, loss of libido, and difficulty in sleeping. But in addition to my “menopausal” symptoms, I was also experiencing high blood calcium levels for over 4 years, which becomes dangerous over time with calcium clogging up arteries. So as my doctor treated me for GERD with too many prilosec and prevacid combinations, and sent me to cardiologists who could not explain my rapid heartbeat situation, he continued to ignore my high blood calcium levels, which were in the range of 10.1-10.4, and he claimed were normal by his office standards. So as soon as I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, I started to ask questions. How could I have osteoporosis? I hike every day. I am fit and healthy and eat healthily. And if I have high amounts of calcium in my blood, then how do I not have enough calcium in my bones? I got tired of menopause or my age of 52 being blamed for my health issues, so I got online. What I found out pretty quickly from googling high blood calcium and osteoporosis was that for both of these conditions to coexist, only one disease could be the cause of them…hyperparathyroidism. And if you threw in the GERD and rapid heartbeat, for sure you had hyperparathyroidism. So how did my doctor, who knew of my osteopoenia/osteoporosis and high blood calcium as well as other red flag symptoms, continue to NOT send me to an endocrinologist for proper evaluation? It was time to be my own doctor! I also questioned his advice over the years to take calcium supplements, despite my diagnoses of high blood calcium. I decided to take myself off of calcium supplements about 3 years ago. My gut was telling me that it was not a smart move to take calcium supplements if I had high blood calcium, and I’m sure glad I made that decision! With calcium being leached from my bones causing osteoporosis, and accumulating in my blood stream, I did not need any extra calcium. What I needed was the only thing that can cure hyperparathyroidism…the removal of an overactive, tumerous parathyroid. So interestingly enough, if the only thing that can cure hyperparathyroidism is surgery, then of course pharmaceutical companies would have no interest in this diseases that is the precursor for other diseases such as heart failure, breast and prostate cancer, strokes, kidney failure and heart attacks. It can go 10 years without causing too much problems other than GERD, fatigue, bad memory, kidney stones, rapid heartbeat and osteoporosis. But make no mistake about it, hyperparathyroidism kills people–it just takes a decade or so to do that.
After being disgusted with my primary care doctor’s inabililty to diagnose the very obvious disease I had for a few years, I got online and read some horror stories of parathyroidectomies gone bad. It seems that because many doctors, including endocrinologist, who think that a blood calcium range 10.0 to 10.4 is “normal”, not many parathyroidectomies are performed by any one given doctor (with the exception of MY doctors at the Norman Parathyroid Center in Tampa, FL). So the problem exists with the fact that doctors are not performing this surgery on a regular basis, so with inexperience, many things can go wrong. This scared me. I wanted to find a doctor who knew what he was doing. And I wanted a doctor to make sure that ALL bad parathyroids were addressed, not just the first bad parathyroid found. I learned that many doctors turned this surgery into a long operation (mine was about a 20 minute procedure), where people had to go back for additional operations because doctors didn’t remove ALL bad parathyroids. I had not only 4 “bad” parathyroids, but also a tumor on my thyroid, that my doctors removed, saving me an additional thyroid operation later on down the road.
So it has been 2 weeks since my parathyroid surgery. Upon waking from my surgery, I immediately felt no bone pain, which I have been experiencing for the past 4 years. I drove 3 hours from Tampa General Hospital back to my mom’s house in Florida eating ice cream and feeling better every minute of my recuperation. I was amazed at how great I felt! I was left with a half a parathyroid, which will generate enough hormone to properly administer calcium back to my bones, and not my bloodstream, which ultimately would have been disastrous a few years down the road. Remember, I’ve been dealing with high blood calcium for at least 4 years, where my doctor just wanted to watch it, but do nothing. That is not a smart move. Once I was diagnosed with full blown osteoporosis, I knew it was time to do something. So for those of you out there, both men and women, who are experiencing bone pain, osteopoenia/osteoporosis, kidney stones, GERD, rapid heartbeat/ palpitation issues (your heart’s electrical function has much to do with calcium in your body), irritability, loss of libido, difficulty sleeping, or just plain feeling crappy, get your PTH level and your blood calcium levels checked in a simple blood test. And if you have 2 or 3 of these issues at the same time, just contact the Norman Parathyroid Center in Tampa, Florida, and deal with the doctors who only do this kind of surgery all day long, because you probably have hyperparathyroidism. They have this surgery down to a science, and they are the best. I am forever grateful to my doctors, Dr. Deva Boone, Dr. Doug Politz and Dr. Kevin Parrack. Lastly, according to Dr. Norman of the Norman Parathyroid Center, this is a more dangerous situation than having high cholesterol. You wouldn’t just sit there and watch your cholesterol be high year after year and do nothing about it. Take your health into your own hands. I did. #hyperparathyroidism #Parathyroid #hypercalcemia #parathyroidglands #osteoporosis #menopause #NormanParathyroidCenter #DrNorman #DrBoone #DrPolitz #DrParrack #endocrinology #endocrinologist #sestamibi