My Thyroidectomy Story

13 Aug
I made it!

Here I am, two days post-thyroidectomy (with central lymph node dissection). I am feeling GREAT. I mean, almost normal! I know I need to take it easy, and I do notice that I get a bit overwhelmed easily, but that is to be expected.

I arrived at the hospital on Thursday at noon. I took two Xanax to relax, but I think I took them way too soon. They just helped me nap on the drive to Ann Arbor, and had worn off when I needed them the most. At 1:30, they took me to pre-op, and fear set in. Not about surgery, but about that darn IV. Anyone who knows me knows how I am about blood and needles (NOT GOOD). I cried a lot, and Andy distracted me. We talked about how adorable Mary is when she smiles, and that got me through the first poke. Naturally, the nurse botched the IV port, so I had to go through it all a very painful second time. That was the most painful, nerve-wrecking part of this whole process. Once that was over, I was all smiles.

Ready to go under!
Andy kissed my thyroid goodbye, and the last thing I remember is explaining my middle name to the anesthesiologist. I woke up very confused, because I saw that the clock said 5:45 p.m. That meant the surgery was really long, and I was worried about Andy and my dad who were in the waiting room. I tried so hard to stay conscious, but I just couldn’t. It didn’t really hurt that badly…I just felt nauseous and thirsty. The rest of the night was only tough because I was in a large recovery room filled with other patients, with just a curtain separating me from a very annoying fellow patient who loved the sound of her own voice. By the way, if anyone knows a 40 year-old junior high school teacher from the Tri-City area who just had a very gross, personal surgery that she loves talking about in great detail, please send her my best.

12 hours post-surgery
By 5:00 a.m., my countdown to escape began. I kept giving big smiles to the nurses and saying I was ready to get my IVs out, but every time they agreed, I would get sick and they would put me back on the disabled list. I was in a very nauseous state when Dr. G checked on me, and unfortunately, I let an error slip me by. He said he would get my Cytomel, a short-acting T3 thyroid replacement drug, instead of Synthroid, just in case I needed radiation. Before my surgery, we had already agreed that I would get a Thyrogen injection if I needed a scan or an RAI treatment. But Dr. G was already gone before I had the strength to articulate that I wanted Synthroid. I didn’t want to mess around with the ups and downs of switching meds. It took me four hours to get the Synthroid approved, and we never could get it filled at the hospital. By noon, I had enough of my talkative, obnoxious neighbor, and I basically got dressed and discharged myself. I kept my stomach empty, and took my first 125 mcg Synthroid at the Saginaw Rite Aid. My advice to others…get your meds all worked out before surgery. I should have known better!

I slept perfectly last night. I haven’t slept that well in years! I did wake up with some tingling numbness in my fingers….bad sign, and indicates low blood calcium. Dr. G told Andy that he had to move my parathyroid glands a bit. I obviously want more detail about that, but I probably won’t be able to get it until my follow-up appointment on September 6. In the meantime, I am taking six Os-Cals and two Calcitrols every day. I am all done with pain pills…I really feel fine!

Sympathy band-aids from my girls
Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers. I really felt them, and they certainly worked. I am well on my way to the end of this journey!


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