Friday 1 November 2019

Buh Bye Thyroid!

On Tuesday this week, I had surgery to have a total thyroidectomy to remove my potentially cancerous thyroid. It was exactly one year earlier that I had originally been told that the biopsy of the nodule in my thyroid was malignant, but it turns out that it was unconfirmed. A second biopsy in April came back with the same results - unconfirmed, but about a 30% chance that it was (usually about 5-10% of nodules are cancerous). The original plan was to only remove half the thyroid, but when I told the surgeon that I was already on Synthroid that plan changed to remove the whole thyroid (it already wasn't working properly, it would just be sitting there for more nodules to form in, and if the first half came back cancerous then I would have to undergo a second surgery to remove the remaining half).

I wasn't too worried about the actual surgery. I had a previous co-worker who had the same surgery back in June, with the same surgeon, and a current co-worker who had had this surgeon for a gallbladder surgery a few years ago. I had faith in the abilities of the surgeon. And I had read a few accounts online of people's experience with the surgery, and it generally was a good experience for all. So the actual procedure was not much of a concern to me.

I've been far more concerned with how I will feel over the next couple of months following the surgery. Specifically, tiredness. At work I'm on my feet all day, walking between 13,000 and 18,000 steps a day. And we are just hitting the busy season. Not to mention trying to do something occasionally with the ponies.

I was the lucky winner for my surgery time. I had to arrive at the hospital for 5:45am for surgery at 7:30. Which means everyone involved on my end got little sleep the night before. I was sitting up on the gurney as I was wheeled into the OR. The anesthetist put an IV into my hand (18 gauge needle, which resulted in us talking about horses as I commented on how I use 18 gauges on my horse and he has done large animal anesthesiology), they put a scope up my nose to look at my vocal cords (not pleasant, but manageable), and I don't even remember laying down on the table before I was waking up in recovery, in front of a window of beautiful blue sky at about 10:15. I was shortly transferred to my room for the night.
Shortly after I got to my room. The red face was due to whatever they spread over it to sterilize my skin.
The only pain was a very sore throat due to the intubation. I sipped on lots of ice water and was able to eat some soft foods around 1 pm. I needed some Gravol to help though - I was a bit queasy with the first couple bites of Jell-o, but once the Gravol hit I was pretty ravenous. I hadn't eaten in about 16 hours so I think my system was a bit shocked when I actually fed it.

By 2:30 I was able to pee and then go for a walk around the halls. I had soft foods for supper and some blood pulled sometime in the evening. I hadn't been able to sleep during the day so by about 8pm I was done and settled into my bed.

But I couldn't sleep. I had to sleep with my head at no less than a 30 degree angle to minimize the swelling in my neck. Having to sleep sitting up, on my back, and in a room with two other people who had machines constantly making noises does not make getting rest easy. Not to mention that every time a new nurse came on board they had to take my vitals - but at least I was taken off the IV at around 10pm. Thankfully a nurse gave me some earplugs at some point in the night and they did a pretty good job of blocking out voices - so much so that I missed the party that apparently happened in the hall at one point during the night.

I was woken up at 5am by a tech to have some more blood taken. At that point, I was wide awake so I started to walk the halls. I saw a resident, the surgeon's assistant, and the surgeon by 7:30am. My vitamin D was a bit high in that morning's bloodwork, but thankfully my calcium levels were good (so my parathyroids do not look like they were damaged during the removal of the thyroid). They wanted to pull one more lot of blood to retest the vitamin D before I left.

My only directions were to apply Polysporin to the incision for about 4 days then start using lotion. Doesn't matter what kind, whatever I had on hand would be fine. I had no restrictions given in regards to lifting or activity and thankfully no longer had to sleep propped up.

I went to my parents' house and slept for 3 hours that afternoon. And had a very good sleep that night.

There has been very little pain. I've had a couple of twinges at the incision site, but only a couple. The muscles at the front of my neck were pretty achy by the end of the second day, so I took the only painkiller that I've needed so far - just a regular Tylenol.
The incision has a bit of puffiness above it that will go down over the next little bit.
Otherwise, I kind of feel like I have a head cold, minus the stuffed up face. My head is a bit fuzzy, I've been coughing a lot due to the irritation in my throat and my energy level is low. How much of this is due to undergoing anesthetic, or because my body is trying to figure out what the hell is going on with my missing hormones I've yet to determine.

I made it out to the barn on Friday afternoon. Pony Grandma drove me out and grabbed one horse while I grabbed the other. I looked the kids over (they're fine) and stuffed them full of carrots. We went for a quick walk down the driveway before putting them back out. And then I yawned all the way home.

The goal over the next week or two is to try to slowly up my activity level and get myself onto a proper sleep schedule. I'm okay with needing to take a nap, but it needs to be earlier in the day so that I sleep through the night.

I'd probably be okay to do a quick and easy ride - provided someone groomed and tacked the horse up for me. Pretty sure that process would leave me exhausted. Hopefully sometime later next week though!

I don't see the surgeon for my follow-up until November 18th. At that time I expect to find out what the pathology report said about the thyroid. I have an appointment with my family doc next week, so there is a chance that she'll let me know. I can't decide if I want to hear that it was cancerous and we made the right decision to remove it or that it isn't and it could have stayed!


  1. Glad to hear your recovery is going ok so far! I hope it continues that way... And as for cancer or not...eesh...I guess I would rather err on the side of caution and have the thyroid removed. Just the mention of the "c" word gives me the heebie-jeebies - my hubby dealt with it in 2016 and is ok now, but you never know.

    1. Even if it was cancerous, there is a good chance that I won't have to do any other treatment for it. If I have to, it will likely mean that I'm radioactive for days at a time.

  2. I’m glad that things are going well. I hope you feel like your self soon

    1. Thanks! Feeling pretty good today despite not being able to get much sleep last night. I cleaned off my treadmill and got some walking in this afternoon and plan to do so again this evening.