Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thyroid Post-Game Show Part 2

Last Friday, about a week-and-a-half or so after having my thyroid taken out, I started my Levothyroxine regimen. My primary care physician and I will work on determining the correct daily dosage. I was surprised at how little was actually required. Right now each pill contains 25 micrograms of the active ingredient. Makes you wonder what's in the rest of that 1/2 gram pill. I will be on this drug for the rest of my life.

Yesterday was my last visit with my surgeon. The final result of my biopsy was in and he needed to do his standard post-op check up. The main reason my thyroid was so enlarged was goiter however the biopsy turned up two small cancerous nodules (measuring 3mm and 1mm) one on each side. The guidelines for what to do next are pretty clear. Do nothing. My surgeon and the pathology report both indicated the tumors were completely contained and there is no indication that the cancer has advanced outside the thyroid. These tumors can almost be considered "pre-cancer" and basically they are nothing to worry about. So I'm not going to worry about them. The only alternate course of action is radioactive iodine treatment. Unless my primary care doc thinks it's worth doing, I'm going to skip it. These types of tumors are actually quite common and usually pose no threat. Later in life there was a chance that these tumors could have evolved (devolved?) into something really nasty but we won't know. Those little bastards are sitting in some pathology lab getting ready to be incinerated or whatever they do to incorrigible organs after they are separated from their owners, chopped up, and analyzed. The biopsy contained some other good news. There was no parathyroid tissue found in the sample so it looks like my surgeon did a good job keeping those calcium regulating babies intact.

So the $64,000.00 question is was it worth taking out my thyroid? Unfortunately I'll never know. I probably could have treated the enlarged thyroid with drugs but there were those tiny tumors in there which later in life could have blossomed into a real problem. If given this information I probably would have taken the same course of action.

This is probably all I'm writing about this unless some really big news comes up. I hope these posts are helpful for anyone facing the same choices. I found it extremely comforting to talk to other people who went through this experience and I'd be happy to converse, publicly or privately, with anyone who's been diagnosed. You know how to reach me.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's Connect with Friend Connect

Now that Google has added more social features to Friend Connect, I've decided to try a few experiments on my blog. I may try to extend these trials at work as well but for now lets see how this small test works out. The only change I've made is to attach the "Add Members" gadget to the right hand column of my blog. Stop by and sign up if you read my blog and would like to participate in the experiment. I promise not to spam anyone but it may be a way for us to have a two-way conversation as some of you have been doing by posting comments.
Adding the gadget was pretty simple. The first thing I needed to do was to just sign up for Friend Connect. After that the Friend Connect admin page was populated automatically with my Blogger blogs. At that point you just pick the gadgets you want for your site, step through some wizards, and out pops some Javascript code you paste into your template. Pretty drop dead simple.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

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.

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