My Thyroidectomy Story

This journey began last August 2011, while we were celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary. Getting rushed to the ER that night was the catalyst for a series of doctor’s visits that eventually led to the discovery of several nodules in my thyroid, causing both sides to be enlarged.

The original sonogram showed my thyroid to be quite enlarged on both sides because of the nodules. The right side more so than the left side, but there were lots of nodules everywhere and one really large one that particularly worried the endocrinologist. Dr. Zayour performed a biopsy and confirmed that the nodules weren’t cancerous. Though he recommended surgery last year, and Brian was completely for it, I decided against surgery because my goiter wasn’t hurting my swallowing or breathing and because it wasn’t cancerous. I had regular blood work done in the months that followed which showed my hormone levels within range. I was very adamant about keeping my thyroid, enlarged as it was, so the endocrinologist went along with it with the stipulation that I would get another sonogram a year later to make sure that the nodules haven’t gotten bigger. I had this idea in my head that I could will my nodules away and make my thyroid shrink through positive thoughts and energy. I guess there are certain limits to The Secret. Science prevailed unfortunately.

Fast forward to October 2012 when I had my follow up sonogram. All the nodules have gotten bigger. My whole thyroid is even much bigger than it was the year before. At this point, Dr. Zayour was more forceful about his recommendation for surgery. He said if I insisted on keeping my thyroid, he would insist on another sonogram in six months because the nodules could grow even more in that short amount of time. At that point, if the nodules were bigger still he would push for surgery right then and there. That’s really when I decided that I couldn’t put off surgery any longer. I would likely have to go through the thyroidectomy in the beginning of the next year or I could get it done this year. I wish that I could say that my concern for my health played a bigger part in the decision, but the biggest factor for me was the financial aspect of the procedure. If I wait until next year to have the surgery done, I wouldn’t have met my deductibles yet and I would have to pay more out of pocket. Whether it was for the right or wrong reasons, I at least came to the right conclusion of having surgery done as soon as possible. The only other thing I asked of Dr. Zayour was to pick a good surgeon for me and he assured me that he would pick the best in town.

I met Dr. Sunderland for the first time last month. With glowing recommendations from Dr. Zayour and my friend Andrea who had Dr. Sunderland perform her sinus surgery a few years back, I knew I was in good hands. I was actually excited about my thyroidectomy, as crazy as that sounds. Brian was more nervous about the procedure than I was. He was fretting in the weeks and days before surgery. I actually didn’t start getting nervous until they inserted my IV.

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I have such small veins that I always worry that they would miss. What if the medicine doesn’t make it into my bloodstream? On the flip side of that, what if they give me so much anesthesia that I end up with amnesia? I told Brian that I hope that I still remember him when I wake up from surgery and I’m not like, “Who are you? I want my mommy!” LOL. Yeah, I’ve been watching too many amnesia movies.

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Dr. Sunderland came to check on me before surgery and drew the incision mark. They actually had to cut about a quarter of an inch more on each side because my thyroid was far larger than they expected.

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Brian said Dr. Sunderland told him that the right side was three times the size of a normal thyroid and the left side was about twice the size. My thyroid wasn’t that big during my last sonogram a couple of months before. It’s scary to think that it had grown that much in such a short amount of time. I’m really glad that I decided to have the thyroidectomy done this year instead of waiting until next year when it would be even bigger. Then they’d have to cut all the way across my throat.

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Here’s a picture of me and my surgeon before surgery. We’re saying “Mahalo” because he’s leaving for Hawaii next week. He and his family stay in Waikiki for a month and that’s where they spend Christmas every year.

We arrived at the surgery center around 8 am and my surgery was scheduled for 10 am, but Brian said that it was closer to 11 am before they came to get me. He said they gave me some valium to relax me and I was out before we hit the end of the hallway. That was the end of the line for him. He didn’t see me again until after surgery was completed. I think they had to stabilize me before they could bring Brian in because it was almost two o’clock in the afternoon before he saw me and took this picture. I guess they fed me Tums and made me drink some water but I threw it all up when they moved me to the recovery room.

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I doubt that the nurse was racing down the hallway when she moved me but it’s not out of the ordinary to be queasy after surgery. They had to make sure that the nausea had subsided before they could send me home. Anyway, they told me to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing so I showed up in my PJs that morning. I’m glad I did because when I got home, I just went straight to bed and didn’t have to worry about getting out of my clothes. I think it was almost four in the afternoon. All I wanted to do was sleep.

Mom came over around five in the afternoon to keep me company while Brian went to the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions. I have to take a gazillion pills over the next few days. Anyway, here’s a picture of my stitches.

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Mom brought me some sinigang to eat. I was really hungry because I hadn’t eaten since eight in the evening the night before and it was almost six o’clock. She kept asking me if I wanted to eat, but my urge to sleep was far stronger than the hunger. Plus, I remember that Darcy said she threw up her food after surgery and I didn’t want to have to go through that without Brian there to help me. Brian has experience cleaning up my vomit and I didn’t want mom to have to go through it.

I think it was almost seven in the evening by the time Brian came back from the pharmacy. He had to go to two different ones because they only had the generics at the one pharmacy and he didn’t want generics. I got up to eat when he showed up. Mom put some sabaw in a bowl. I sipped on it some. Then we put a little bit of rice in it. I just had a few bites. I was afraid to eat, partly because it hurt to swallow but then I didn’t want the food to spill out of the gaping hole in my neck. I have a wild imagination, I know. Anyway, part of it was always because I was afraid of eating too much and puking it all up as Darcy had done after her surgery. As much as it hurt to eat, I was thinking it would hurt even more to vomit.

Other than the incision having to be bigger than planned, I thought surgery went well. My neck and throat were sore and hurt to talk and swallow, but at least I could talk and swallow and the pain wasn’t so overwhelming that I had to take my Lortabs. I’ve taken a few Tylenol, but I haven’t touched my Lortabs yet. I think I may be able to get by without it.

Brian is a little concerned, but I’m still planning on going back to work on Monday. We’ll see how I feel over the next couple of days, but I’m thinking I will be able to manage. I am part Viking after all.

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3 Responses to “My Thyroidectomy Story”

  1. My First Burger and My First Meals in General : A Well-Documented Life wrote on December 22nd, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    [...] was afraid to eat on the night of my surgery though. I remember that Darcy puked out her first meal after her surgery. I really didn’t [...]

  2. Cards for the Cure : A Well-Documented Life wrote on January 7th, 2013 at 5:44 am

    [...] I didn’t argue because I was starving after working out with Darcy (my first genuine workout post-surgery) and he’s right. We didn’t order anything that night that we hadn’t already tried [...]

  3. Funny Conversations : A Well-Documented Life wrote on February 3rd, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    [...] Here’s one that happened right after my thyroid surgery. [...]