The Thyroid Post-Game Show
For those of you not following my daily tweets, my thyroidectomy was completed successfully and I've been home for about five days now.
It was a long surgery. About four hours from the time I was wheeled into the operating theater, under the influence of a healthy shot of Versed, to the time I regained consciousness in the recovery room. Modern anesthesia is wonderful thing.
In the recovery room, the first thing I noticed was my throat was killing me and not from the outside but from the inside. I figured that was from being inubated during the operation but I'm not really sure. They gave me another shot of something for the pain in recovery but that's the last pain killer I've taken. My voice was unchanged. I was obsessing about this before my surgery and I was furtively testing it our in recovery. The nurse must have thought I was a looney.
I stayed overnight in the hospital for observation. That was fairly uncomfortable. I know that there are all sorts of nasty post-operative complications they have to watch out for (blood clots, internal bleeding, infection etc.) but you would figure there would be some passive way to monitor for these conditions. Nope. The way this is done is a nurse wakes you up every 2-4 hours, takes your temp, blood pressure, pulse, and blood-oxygen levels. It's impossible to rest or sleep. As a bonus, I had the pleasure of wearing what amounts to blood pressure cuffs on both legs which alternately inflated/deflated, right leg, then left leg, every 30-60 seconds. I was told this was for circulation but I think they were meant to keep me awake as much as possible between my vitals checks. But I kvetch. They took good care of me at St. Peters and I'm grateful.
The next day I saw my surgeon. The recap was pretty simple. I had a complete thyroidectomy. They left a little bit of tissue around the parathyroids so as to not rough them up too much. I need them for regulating calcium levels. The thyroid was very big and deep which is why the surgery took so long. What he extracted didn't look like cancer to him but we need to wait for the full biopsy to say for sure. He asked if I wanted anything for pain and surprisingly I turned him down. I wasn't in any real pain. So he released me. After losing my I.V. and signing some papers, I was walking (yep, no wheelchair ride) downstairs to the hospital main entrance where my wife was waiting in the getaway car.
I've been home since then. No strenuous activities but I did drive yesterday, which in the Garden State, can be harrowing. I also walked a bit. No running yet. I've taken a bit of Tylenol here and there when I felt uncomfortable but no other pain medication unless you count the warm soup my wife made. Man! That felt great going down my sore throat and tasted great. I'm going a bit stir crazy and will probably start doing some work from home soon. Another advantage to a career in technology.
I still have not started hormone replacement therapy. Due to the fact that my thyroid has left the building, I'm going to be on Synthroid for the rest of my life. From what my docs tell me I have about a two week window before I really need to start taking it. I'll be going in this week to figure out dosages, etc.
So that's it folks. Not too bad all things considered. For anyone going through this I hope this gives you some idea what to expect and helps to relieve any anxiety you may be experiencing. I've been contacted by friends and strangers who have all been very helpful with words of advice, experience, and well wishes. Thanks, everyone. You have all helped me a great deal.
Of course a special thanks to my family who have been helping take care of me and making home the perfect place to recover. I love you all.