Recovery from the second thyroid surgery sucked. It was just way worse than the first one and it continues to be worse. The “worse” started right there with that first night at the hospital.
When I woke up from anesthesia, someone at the hospital in the recovery room told me, “When your breathing tube was removed you bit your lip, so you probably feel that.” I kind of questioned that wording, but that was the explanation as to why I had a fat swollen lip with some little wounds upon waking up from surgery. My assumption is more that they caught my lip in between my teeth and the tube while removing it…
In between surgery numero uno and surgery dos, the world started to open up more after the Covid-19 pandemic and the Nevada mask mandate was dropped. My family was actually allowed to visit me in the hospital. So my husband, my daughter, my mom and my step-father all came to the hospital to visit. I think it disturbed my daughter to see me in the hospital more than it helped her though. She seemed scared to hug me and overall was pretty quiet and uneasy. I get it… mom is supposed to be capable and not an incapacitated mess laying on a hospital bed with tubes coming out of her.
Once again I had a one-night stay in the hospital, but this time was far more eventful as my magnesium levels dropped dangerously low so they had to use my IV to replenish those. Then my calcium dropped and I needed IV replacement. Then the magnesium dropped… So I had a lot of bruising on my arm for all the blood draws to test those levels. And all the tape they put on my arm to tape cotton balls to me each time they drew blood caused an allergic reaction.
All the IV fluids made me have to pee A LOT. And I was connected to these calf sleeves that kept inflating and deflating to keep my blood circulating, so I had to press the nurse call button each time I needed to use the toilet. Finally, the male nurse in the middle of the night showed me how to unhook my leg things and unplug my IV pole so I could take care of business on my own. When you really gotta go, it’s not fun waiting 25 minutes for the nurse on duty after you push your little call button.
I felt so out of control about everything in my life while in the hospital. From being able to go to the bathroom, to how much I could move, to what I was fed (seriously, why do they just give you a massive meal full of really hard foods after you just had your neck cut open? Jello… oatmeal… those items would have been preferable. And nothing with dairy, I don’t want dairy because I don’t need to be all gassy and bloated in addition to everything else!
My husband and my stepfather came to spring me from the hospital the following day after my surgeon checked me out and said he was fine with me going. I had to call the nurses’ station and tell them, “I’m ready to go home. The doctor said he cleared me, would someone come to take this IV out of my arm so I can get dressed?” It took at least another hour after that before someone came to my room.
I feel bad for everyone who works in the medical field. I was super nice to all of the care people, but I was also super frustrated at the process. Props to all of you who work in a field that is probably overworking all of you.
Even though I quickly jumped back into physical activity after the first surgery, the second time around was harder. This is because the first time I still had half a thyroid to help make thyroid hormone for my body. This time, my body was basically draining all of the thyroid hormones I had and unable to make more because they had removed the thyroid. (Yes, that is my technical description. My body drained the thyroid.)
I was still kept on my previous dosage of synthetic thyroid, but it wasn’t enough for this new state. Even though the doctors (otolaryngologist and endocrinologist) said they assumed it would be due to my physical size, evidently it wasn’t because my bloodwork a few weeks after surgery showed that I was EXTREMELY hypothyroid. So my dosage got kicked up.
Then I started a cycle of blood tests and dosage tweaks every 8 weeks. The meds would constipate me or give me diarrhea. I would get cold or hot. I would get acne. But overarching, the constant symptoms were fatigue and dizziness. And my anxiety levels are through the roof ever since, even worse than the level they shot to by becoming a parent. And the anxiety makes me unable to get in a full breath of air. Which makes me feel tired and dizzy. It’s a neverending self-perpetuating cycle.
I had an ultrasound on my neck recently and the “thyroid bed” looks all clear. The blood tests for thyroglobulin do not indicate that anything is producing more thyroglobulin in my body so there most likely isn’t any more cancer in there. The lymph nodes that looked questionable and were biopsied still looked the same as they did before. (A little enlarged, but nothing extreme.)
With that, the endocrinologist said that my thyroid levels have been stable and in a good range for the past few months, so I’m all set for 6 months until I have to get another blood test and for one year when I get another ultrasound. That is supposed to be the rest of my life, I guess. Blood tests and ultrasounds, each 6-12 months.
But I still don’t feel right. I get dizzy way too often. One night I had to pee in the middle of the night, got dizzy, and tipped over onto the toilet. (It was closed.) That’s graceful. Tipping over and knocking things off the back of the toilet*, waking up your spouse with the crash, and getting a big bruise on your upper arm and leg from crashing into the said toilet.
*(toilets need cabinets over them for feminine supplies, just saying… but men don’t think of that and they’re the most common builders)
I’m so tired, tired all the time. I just want to sleep day and night… and my family keeps waking me up in the middle of the night, which upsets me and makes me resent them. I try to sleep with my kiddo more often because she seems needier ever since this whole thing started and wants to be close to me, but then she keeps me awake by tumbling around all night.
I just don’t want to feel like this for the rest of my life. Because a year ago I felt way better… I didn’t age that much in one year, did I?
I don’t feel like I have the time or patience or coping skills to deal with medical professionals over and over and over to get an answer. And medical bills get expensive and I am excessively frugal. (Two surgeries in a year totally got me to my deductible, just in time for the new fiscal year to start in July so all the follow-ups started on a new cycle.)
So I just keep going along, feeling less than okay but not bad enough to say I’m terrible. I am always just sub-par.
I’ll continue this saga into part III. Hopefully, it doesn’t stink as much as Jurassic Park III did.