Recently, I had surgery to remove my thyroid. It wasn’t fun, but I’m feeling much better since the stitches have been taken out.
For those who don’t know, the thyroid gland is in the neck and is best known for its production of the hormone that regulates metabolism. Too much of the hormone results in an overactive metabolism, and too little brings about an under-active metabolism. You’ve probably heard people jokingly (or seriously) blame their weight on their thyroid.
My thyroid was hyperactive, which means it produced too much of the hormone. And, yes, before I was diagnosed and treated, I did experience rapid, unexplained weight loss. For those of you who are suddenly wishing for hyperthyroidism, believe me, it’s not worth everything that comes along with it. It can be life threatening.
In my situation, after three years of treatment, it was best to have it removed altogether.
Yesterday someone here at the office asked me what the thyroid does and what happens if you don’t have one. Good question.
The term “thyroid” is derived from the Latin, meaning shield-shaped, and it took a while for medical experts to figure out what its actual function was. Frederick Ruysch of Leyden suggested that the gland secreted fluid into the veins and, in the late eighteenth century, Caleb Hillier Parry of Bath described it as a vascular reservoir to prevent engorgement of the brain in 1786. But we’ve come a long way since then.
We now know that the thyroid's hormones regulate vital body functions that affect virtually every organ in our bodies, including:
- Heart rate
- Central and peripheral nervous systems
- Body weight
- Muscle strength
- Menstrual cycles
- Body temperature
- Cholesterol levels
- Much more!
So once the productive little gland (over-productive in my case) is removed, the patient must take a replacement hormone. If I didn’t do so, I would be in serious trouble.
When I get up in the morning, my new daily assignment is to go into the kitchen and take that little gray pill – an hour before putting anything else in my mouth. The realization that I’m so dependent on this little pill every day of my life for the rest of my life, is a bit unnerving.
But that’s enough of my little version of Thyroidectomy 101.
With that realization, came another. The sense of urgency I feel in the morning with taking that little pill should be less, not more, intense than my desire to spend time in the presence of my Lord, feeding on His Word, when I awake. His fresh breath of life – grace, mercy, truth, and revelation – infuses my spiritual being with vibrancy and health.
Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m in serious need of a daily infilling of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those attributes do not emanate from within me naturally, I can assure you. I can be a selfish, grouchy, unkind, undisciplined, irritable person. And far too often, the latter qualities make my “relationship status” with the King of Kings evident to others.
Conversely, once I’ve had my morning meeting with the God of the universe, I can eagerly watch Him accomplish His heavenly work in, around, and through my little life. I’m able to hear His voice, recognize what He is doing, and receive His invitation to take part in His daily adventure.
If I forgot to take that little gray pill for long, I would soon develop hypothyroidism. An active, vibrant life would turn into a tired, weak, achy, dry existence. My daily neglect so gradual, I would be overtaken – too discouraged to hope, too apathetic to care, too depressed to change.
Ever been there? I have.
But today, and tomorrow, I choose life – abundant life.
“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside” (Psalm 84:10).