The story of my thyroid cancer surgery

Kat in hospital after thyroid cancer surgery.
Kat in hospital after thyroid cancer surgery.

After the results of the biopsy showed that I had thyroid cancer,  an appointment was made for me to speak with a surgeon who specialized in thyroid surgeries. You’ll want a surgeon instead of one who does general surgeries as those who do general surgeries may accidentally harm your vocal cords. This is what I was told by the surgeon anyway.

Meeting with the surgeon, she explained the surgery and answered questions. I would have to be on a thyroid medication for the rest of my life. The well-known thyroid medication is Levothroid, but my health insurance doesn’t cover that, so I’m using a  generic version.

Anyway, she explains that I have to be in perfect health for the surgery to take place for two weeks. No colds. Because I have a co-worker who is always sick, I work from home those two weeks.

The day of surgery arrives. I get naked and wear a gown and a special pair of their socks. The area for surgery on my throat is cleaned and marked. I’m hooked up to an IV and get a warm blanket to cover me. Since I get nauseous when waking up after being put to sleep, my care team put something in the IV to prevent that. Again, if you cry because you are scared, that’s totally fine and most people do. They probably have an entire storage room dedicated for tissues.

Soon, I’m out. When I wake up, I’m drowsy. With the pain medication, I don’t really feel pain. After awhile though, I can taste the sodium from the IV solution. The taste stays in my mouth and makes eating gross. Swallowing does feel very weird for that day or so. It feels like I’m swallowing up instead of down. I’d suggest taking your first few sips in small amounts.

Since I don’t like needles or that weird taste, I asked if they could take the IV out. I had to promise to take all the pills and drink lots of water. They told me that I’d need to pee regularly and handed me a bucket that sits in the toilet to pee in. (A nurse needed to measure the out-take, to make sure that I was hydrated). So, I decided to make it my mission to drink as much as possible and pee often. I annoyed the nurses all that night. My pee turned clear at one point, and they stopped coming in to check on my pee.

My husband slept on the couch in the room. If he wanted food, he had to buy it himself. So, yes, you can have family members there. If I would have been feeling better and didn’t have so many eyes on me, I would have had him join me in the hospital bed. 🙂

I believe that the nurses checked on my vitals once every hour. This made sleeping difficult.

I can’t remember, but I think that I was in the hospital for either one or two nights. The surgery was on a Thursday. I returned to work on that following Monday. Of course, I worked from home. The surgeon suggests relaxing for two weeks at home, but since I am the breadwinner, I can’t afford to take much time off from work.

A couple of things to note from surgery. I believe that I should have only been in surgery for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, an egg-sized tumor that was growing into my throat was found and removed. (Thus, why I had trouble swallowing certain foods). Twelve lymph nodes were removed to check for cancer, which is fine, as we have so many more. I can’t remember the exact number. I believe my surgery lasted 2.5-3 hours.

My hubby took a photo of me just waking up from surgery. Probably to show me how silly I looked. I’m sure that I said something odd in my drugged state. Not my best look, so he’ll probably be surprised that I included it in this blog entry.

Next post – the first month or so living with thyroid cancer removal.

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