Thyroidectomy Day 1
No food or drink after midnight just like with any surgery. Check in was simple. Had to wait a few hours til surgery actually started but it was relaxing.
I mostly stared at Kevin, and kissed him lots because I knew I wouldn't get to much afterward (for a while, anyway). I was really nervous but didn't want Kevin to worry, and I knew it was way easier for me because he was the one who was going to have to sit there for three or four hours while I was under.
Surgery went well, was uneventful. They removed my entire thyroid without damaging my vocal chords (woo hoo!). He said my thyroid “looked normal” so until the pathology report came back there wasn't much to tell.
When I woke up, I was in a recovery room with other patients. I couldn't keep my eyes open and kept asking for Kevin over and over. I guess I fell back asleep because next thing I knew, I was in an actual patient room with Kevin. It wasn't too sore when I first woke up, but they had given me pain meds.
The nurse just kept trying to give me more and more so I wasn't in pain, but I didn't want to take them. She gave me 10mg of oxy-something-or-other and I was so sick. It was gross, I was nauseous and I felt like I was floating but not in a fun way.
I was adamant about NOT getting any more pain meds from that point on but they insisted on me agreeing to take something so I could show them I could manage my pain on my own at home. They offered Phenergan (for nausea – a shot in the leg) and it helped so much I wasn't in a lot of pain anymore either (basically it knocked me out). The nurse warned that it would “hurt really bad” and “burn a lot” but it didn't, at all. Maybe this extra leg fat is good for something after all.
Thyroidectomy Day 2
I was in the hospital for 24 hours. I ate a popsicle and Italian ice, but when the nurse asked if I wanted real food I threw up when she mentioned applesauce. I loathe applesauce, but the mere thought of it made me throw up and I thought that was hilarious (after the fact LOL not funny while you are puking!).
My friend, Johnny, came up to the hospital to visit and give Kevin a break. I made Kevin go get something to eat because he hadn't eaten much the day of the surgery and wouldn't leave my side. After a little push back he finally agreed to go. He was gone for an hour or two and I slept most of the time. Johnny was talking but honestly I don't remember what he said at all because I kept falling asleep.
I was discharged around 2PM. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chicken noodle soup before I left. The car ride home wasn't as rough as I had expected – I was equipped with ice packs and a travel neck pillow so I was good.
Thyroidectomy Day 3
A little less pain on this day, lots of nausea even with Zofran around the clock. Slept most of the day, went from freezing to burning up, kept a low grade fever pretty much the whole day and night. The tingly in the hands started to get more noticeable. Getting used to taking more than a dozen pills a day has been rough. I have hated pills all my life so I have never taken them!
At one point in my life I thought about getting weight loss surgery. The main thing that stopped me was the fact that I'd have to take supplements/pills for the rest of my life. Even when I took vitamins they were gummies or chewables. I. Hate. Pills. So far, the pills and the hot/cold flashes have been the worst.
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Thyroidectomy Day 4
I woke up feeling better and in less pain but still nauseous. Went to the store and felt like I got hit by a truck afterward. Probably shouldn't have gotten out of bed, but we also went to look at houses so it was fun while I was out. Tingling hands got worse, slept some more.
Thyroidectomy Day 5
Felt better except the nausea today. Almost puked because Sapphire was eating Doritos and they smelled disgusting. Kevin cooked chicken wings (my favorite meal!) and I got sick again. Two blankets on me all day and STILL freezing.
Got worn out really fast today. Taking meds every few hours really sucks, but overall the pain was minimal today. I noticed my hands tingling a lot still, and I got worn out quickly, but other than that it was a great day.
Thyroidectomy Day 6
Today was my follow-up appointment. The doctor told me there was more cancer than he initially thought. While the surgery was fairly uneventful, pathology showed more cancer – and it had spread to my lymph nodes. That means that taking my whole thyroid was the best option (he let me decide on a partial vs total thyroidectomy because the nodules were only on one side as far as we had seen previously).
During the appointment, I had to do another scope – one of my least favorite things ever. They numb your nose, then stick a long ‘scope' up it and down your throat. You can feel all of it and it's gross, gross, gross.
The doctor increased my calcium dose because of the tingly hands (sign of low calcium), he ordered bloodwork to check my levels, and took my stitches out (wasn't too bad). He also told me to take some Xanax because my chest has been tight and he thinks it's due to anxiety (very possible).
Last but not least, he told me I have to get RAI (Radioactive Iodine Treatment). This was my worst fear and I'm pretty upset about it, but it is what it is. I have to follow up with a nuclear medicine specialist for the RAI, and follow up with the surgeon in a month to check my levels.
Thyroidectomy Day 7
Today I've been really moody, hot and cold, anxious, and just overall not feeling the best. In my head, I'm happy and looking at things in a positive light, etc. But then my body is hot and cold, and I'm tired, and I'm pissed off that I have cancer, and I'm annoyed at everything and everybody even with no reason to be. It's just a weird limbo/in between existence because I want to be happy – and in theory I am for SO many reasons – but at the same time I am just starting to accept that I actually have cancer. At first I didn't really see it like “real” cancer. But now I'm having to do radiation at a cancer center. They have to make me very sick in order to make me better and I have a lot of anxiety about Kevin having to take care of me, and the kids, and the house… and it's just a lot.
Post Thyroidectomy Experience
Overall, everything has been great and my recovery has been way better than expected! I'm rocking new scarves every day and even got back in the Slingshot.
I know the RAI sucks but it could be worse. I can't imagine doing this without Kevin. He has been my rock every single day. He has helped with the kids and has literally waited on me hand and foot, organized my meds and made sure I took them, he has done so much and I am very thankful for him.
It's slow going but I'm working on some more posts on this topic so check back for:
- Signs and Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroidectomy: What to Expect
- Things to Consider Before Your Thyroidectomy
- How to Prepare for Your Thyroidectomy
- What I Wish I Had Known Before My Thyroidectomy
- Apps for Tracking Thyroid Symptoms, Levels, etc
- What is RAI?
- Preparing for RAI
- RAI Diet
- Ways to be a Supportive When Your Spouse has Thyroid Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer: What to Expect
- How to Keep a Positive Outlook When Battling Cancer(I'll add the links when they're written. THANK YOU for all of your support! )
Glad to see you up and moving. It will be a long road, but you are one tough ass cookie!
You are A CHAMP! You have a amazing support system (kevin) and with that you can get through anything. Not to mention you are a WARRIOR. Fuck a thyroid. Who needs em?
I’m glad your recovery hasn’t been awful. The radioactive iodine isn’t bad at all. I briefly lost tear and salivary function but it came back. The hardest part is being super strict about avoiding exposure to your family. My kids were little when I did mine and I didn’t do inpatient treatment. My husband didn’t listen and later had his own thyroid out, which I’m convinced was due to his exposure to me after treatment. Hoping you have a great recovery. This year, I’m 20 years cancer free
Sorry sorry to hear about your surgery did not know about it crier but reading your post now it caught my eye because I’ve also been having to have my thyroid checked for see if there’s any enlargement but the last time I checked it there was or biopsy that there was no cancer. But what I also want to say is I know that you’re taking the calcium and the vitamin D ask your doctor Adding by them and K2 or K3 so that you will absorb the calcium better as a gastric bypass patient that’s what they’re now telling us that we should be adding and I just read it but they haven’t thought it’s I don’t remember it but I believe it is K to check with your doctor …
I’m glad you are doing well and recovering. I did radioactive iodine years ago for an overactive thyroid. Took the pill, needed to stay away from people for a week, and had to watch who I was around for a month. Not too many side effects, which was good. Hopefully it goes easy for you.
[…] a longer post about my experience: Thyroidectomy Recovery (Week […]