Friday, August 16, 2013

My Total Thyroidectomy

I had my thyroid surgery last Tuesday, and it went very well.  I thought I would share my experience for anyone who might be facing thyroid surgery in the future.  The surgery was scheduled for 7:30 in the morning, and we were told to report at the hospital at 6:00.  I was taken right back to be prepped, and during the prep, I had the best iv experience I have ever had.  They numbed my hand before inserting the iv, and it was so quick and painless that way!  Many different members of the surgical team came through to talk to me, and I had to answer a lot of questions (many of them multiple times).  As I talked to the anesthesiologists, I expressed my strong desire to avoid nausea (after a bad anesthesia experience in the past), so they gave me something called "triples" - two pills and a bitter drink and told me that they would also give me something in my iv during surgery.  I was taken to the OR shortly before 7:30, and the last thing I remember was my nurse arranging my arms for surgery.  I wasn't expecting to fall asleep before my surgeon even arrived in the OR, so it was kind of surreal to wake up in recovery afterwards and know nothing of what went on, who was present, or how long it had taken.
My surgery ended up being more tedious than anticipated.  My thyroid was wrapped around my trachea on both sides, so it was difficult to remove.  My nodule was also bigger than expected.  My surgeon said that is was about the size of a golf ball.  He told Jim that it had the word, "Titleist" written on the side.  :)  He was confident that things had gone well, though.
In the recovery room, I got very hot at one point and was feeling a bit panicked, but the nurse removed some of my blankets and fed me a few ice chips, and I started feeling better.  Two of the main possible  thyroidectomy complications are vocal cord damage and calcium deficiency.  I was quite encouraged to find that my voice was pretty strong in recovery.  After a while in recovery, I was taken to my room (I had a nice little private room), where Jim was waiting.  As soon as we got to my room, I climbed off the gurney and went straight to the restroom.  While I was there, I started feeling nauseated.  I got sick once, but I really think that it was more breathing tube related than stomach related.  After that initial sickness, I didn't have any more nausea.  My throat and neck were sore, but it wasn't horrible.  I rested throughout the day, and I used an ice pack on my neck and sipped ice water for my throat.  I ate soup and ice cream for lunch and dinner.  My parents and one of the pastors from our church came up that evening to visit for a little while, and after they left, I was feeling good enough to send Jim home for the night.  I was able to get several hours of sleep that night.
My view from my hospital bed
Wednesday morning, I had a low-grade fever, so the nurses encouraged me to keep drinking lots of water.  My surgeon came in late morning and told me that I could go home.  He encouraged me to take deep breaths and to try to cough.  He said that the fever was because my lungs were trying to readjust after having the breathing tube in there.
Flowers from my parents
I came home from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and have been doing a little better each day since then.  I've managed the pain with Motrin, ice packs, and a heating pad.  My throat pain went away after a couple of days, and my neck pain has gotten considerably better.  I haven't had any calcium issues, but they have me taking Tums 750 three times a day for a month, just to be cautious.
My parents were here for the week of my surgery, and they were a huge help to us!  They cooked, cleaned, ran errands, and took care of the kids and me.  They left Sunday morning, and since then, we've been on our own.  My neck was feeling pretty good by Monday, but I was starting to feel the effects of not having a thyroid.  I was very tired and emotional.  I had not been able to start my hormone replacement medication immediately after surgery because we were waiting on the pathology report.  I was thrilled when my surgeon called Monday afternoon to tell me that the pathology was back and that I did not have cancer!  Later that afternoon, my endocrinologist called to tell me that he had called in my prescription and that I could start my medication Tuesday morning.  I have been amazed at how much better I have felt since I started the medication!
Happy mail from my sister and brother-in-law
I went back to see my surgeon yesterday.  He removed my remaining bandages and told me that everything looks good.  He told me that I could go back to being a normal person.  :)  My neck looks kind of rough, which is to be expected 10 days after surgery, but I have hopes that it will end up looking pretty good after a few months.  Until then, I will be covering my neck with scarves (to hide my scar and to protect it from the sun).  I had bought a few new scarves before my surgery, and my sister and my cousin had each sent me one this week in the mail.  My friend, Kristen, stopped by my house on Tuesday with a big bucket full of scarves that my friends at church had gotten for me.  I was so touched that they would support me in this way!  Their gift made my day week!
Scarves from friends at church
I'm sure I will have more to share about my thyroid journey in the weeks to come, but I wanted to update on my surgery and recovery so far.


Tammy Bacon said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I am facing a thyroidectomy soon and am so nervous! I would love to chat with you more. -Tammy, Pembroke GA

Megan said...

It can feel quite overwhelming before your surgery! First of all - surgery! Secondly, the uncertainty of how your body will do without a thyroid/on thyroid replacement meds.
My surgery was about a year and a half ago, and I really feel pretty good. It took several months and a couple of doctors to get me to a good dosage of medication, but most days I have the energy to do what I need to do.
I would be glad to chat with you and answer any questions you have! I hope your surgery goes well!

Sidney said...

Thank you posting your thyroidectomy surgery experience. I will have to have the same surgery. One question: did you have a thyroid specialist surgeon perform the surgery. I'm torn between staying in my home town and have a general surgeon perform it or go to a large facility where they have specialist surgeons. I would appreciate your input.


Megan said...

I had mine done by a general surgeon. I felt confident that he would do a great job, and now, several years later, I really feel that he did. I have had no long-term complications, and my scar is hardly visible (he did it right in the crease of my neck so it would blend in). I hope yours goes well!