That was the day that I had my thyroidectomy. A thyroidectomy is the removal of all (or part) of your thyroid. How much of the thyroid gland that is removed will depend on how large your cancer/nodule is, where it is located and what you and your doctor come to a decision on.
I elected to have a total thyroidectomy (TT) as opposed to the partial thyroidectomy. I decided on this because my lump was a little large, and the surgeon indicated that I would probably have to have the second side removed eventually. So rather than going in a number of times, I decided to have a TT.
To be honest, I had a difficult time deciding on a surgeon. As I mentioned in a previous post I had issues with physicians talking down to me, not even listening to the fact that I had research experience in neuroendocrinology. Thus I didn't need the typical "your thyroid is a butterfly shaped organ...." So I actually interviewed a number of ENT physicians that specialized in thyroid cancer/thyroid surgeries. Finally I settled on one... he was a bit of an (ermm....) ass. But I liked him. In fact, he was the first physician that looked at me and said, "Well you know already what your options are, you know the data is" (I brought evidence-based research and case studies with me to my appointment). So the physician was like... "what do YOU want to do? I know what you need. You know what you need. You need to decide when you want to do it." Ha! What an ass. I loved him for it! So I went with the physician that didn't have the BEST bedside manner. However he had the best reputation (known as the best in this state). I grilled him on current research and he knew it all. He was pompous. I was pompous. It was a perfect match.
I had to wait for about a month for the insurance to clear because I chose a surgeon out of my network of coverage. Sure it cost more. But I wanted a surgeon that I was confident in and comfortable with.
The end results were great (well as great as having an organ ripped out of ya...).
If you want to see some additional post-op pictures, I have it posted on my other blog that you can see here. Or on my Facebook album here.
Not my hottest pictures ever. I wanted my husband to take pictures so I could catalog everything (I'm sick like that). I even told him that no matter what, even if I kicked, screamed and cried to not take pictures. I ordered him to take the pictures because when everything was said and done I would have wanted them. However in the end, I was too doped up on the pain meds, I never even argued! So I didn't yell at him, I was doped up, and I got my pictures!
All kidding aside, I ended up spending a couple of days recouping in the hospital. My mum never left my side (my husband slept in the hotel next to the hospital because there was only one chair in my room). And even though I had my whole thyroid removed, I was 27 and had cancer and I was in pain from surgery, it still never felt real to me. I think I had spent the previous month preparing everyone else, including myself. I had educated myself on the procedures (I even made my mom see pictures of people with the drainage tubes because I knew she would FREAK out -- and good thing too because she later admitted that if I didn't explain that to her ahead of time she probably would have fainted). So when I was in the hospital recovering, it was surreal and I was okay with everything. To this day (three years later) I still am amazed at how smoothly and confidently I took to the process. I want to say it was the power in knowledge, just knowing what to expect. Or maybe it was because I had to be the calm one so everyone else around me was okay. But either way, the thyroidectomy - the most invasive aspect of the whole thyroid cancer procedure, was actually the "easiest" part for me.
Next time I'll tell you the dirty little secret no one ever talks about with the thyroidectomy and thyroid cancer -- issues with calcium. Fun times!