A couple weeks ago, I started to tell you all about my journey with having my thyroid removed. If you are just starting, click here to go back and read from the start.
5/31/17 Surgery day. I wasn’t supposed to shower this morning, so took one last night, and then had to clean myself off with some skin prep cleansing wipes. This morning I had to do the same, and was not allowed to eat breakfast. We left the house just a few minutes before 6 and checked in at 6:20am. After about 10-15 minutes (that felt like forever), they called me back and told Justin to wait. I was a little nervous because I thought he was going to be with me at that point. The nurse took my vitals, and I was surprised that my blood pressure was actually a little on the low side. She asked me a few questions and I had to sign one more consent. She brought me to the pre-op holding area with a few hospital beds and gave me a huge purple gown to change into, some socks, and a hair net. I pulled my hair into a really high ponytail because I didn’t want it to be under my head during the surgery. I had left all my rings and watch at home, and she said the hair tie was ok because it didn’t have any metal. I also asked about the anklet I wear because if I cut it off I won’t be able to get it back on. Again, since it didn’t have metal and isn’t tight on my ankle she said it would be fine to stay on. They put the leg compression machines on my legs, and put a heater in the gown because it was very cold in there. The nurse tried to get the IV started in my left wrist, but even after using a local anesthetic, it was still really hurting me because she couldn’t get it in. She asked another nurse to try to help, and when she saw I was almost crying from it, she stopped and said they needed to try a different location. So they covered that and this nurse did a local again on the back of my hand and got the IV started there pretty quickly. Once that was in, they went to get Justin to come back with me.
A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist came to meet with us and explained how the surgery will go from his point of view and what he would be doing for me. We also met the nurse who would be in the OR with me, so I told her that I was supposed to start my period on Saturday, but I hadn’t yet because of stress. I just wanted them to know in case it happened while in surgery they knew it was normal. Then Dr. Sampson came in and talked to us for a couple minutes. He explained again what he was going to do and how it would all work. He said he had one endoscopy to do before me, so we would be getting started in about 30 minutes. He had the room booked for an 8am start time. I explained to him about how I am sensitive about my neck, and said if he could use something other than stitches or staples that would have to be removed later I would greatly appreciate it. Not long after that, they made Justin leave. The nurse told him to give me some good kisses and love, and he had to leave. I cried. I was so scared at that point. The nurse said the would put something in the IV to help calm me down, and it took effect almost immediately. I barely remember Justin walking out, and don’t even really remember leaving the holding area and going into the OR. I have a very vague memory of them asking me if I felt centered on the table, and remember feeling more than seeing the mask.
Next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room. While I was out, they must have drawn blood from me, because in my records there is a calcium level blood test that was drawn at 11:56am and my calcium was down to 7.7 which is below normal range, but expected because most of my parathyroids were removed with the thyroid so my body was in shock and trying to make up for the loss. I remember looking at the clock and seeing that it was 12:19pm. Then I had a nurse asking how I felt and the first thing I said was “I need to pee!” She brought me a bedpan to use since I couldn’t get up at that time, then asked if I needed anything else. I asked for Justin, and she said as soon as the area calmed down a little bit, she would go get him. It would probably be about 30 minutes or so. I do remember hearing them call him to let him know that I was awake. I could hardly talk at that time, so they left the curtain open for me and kept checking in on me until they were able to get Justin back with me. I heard them call him and tell him where to meet them so they could bring him to me. Finally, I saw Justin and it made me feel so much better. He gave me a kiss on the forehead and just sat with me, but I felt like I could get through any of it with him by my side. He commented about the surgery taking much longer than expected. When I asked why it took so long, he said that Dr. Sampson told him that when they went to take the nodule out, it started bleeding much more than they expected. Because of this, they had two options: make the incision larger or go slowly to work around it. Since they chose not to open the incision more, it ended up taking almost 3.5 hours for the surgery. A nurse had called Justin at about the 2 hour mark and just said they were still working on me, but it was taking longer than expected. The surgeon removed the left lobe and sent it to pathology, who said it looked like abnormal but benign cells. Dr. Sampson decided to remove the lower portion of my right lobe that had the cyst on it, but left the rest, leaving me with about 1/3 of a thyroid gland. They kept up my pain meds via IV while we were in the recovery room, and also brought me some ice chips that Justin was feeding to me to try to keep my throat from feeling so dry and sore. It was a little hard to eat the ice chips because, one thing I was not expecting, was that half of my tongue was numb! When I asked about it, the nurse said that happens sometimes depending on how the breathing tube was sitting against it and should go away within a week or two. Originally, I was told Justin wouldn’t be allowed in the recovery room, but I’m so glad they brought him back, especially because we were in there for over 5 hours! It took them a really long time to get a room for me.
Eventually around 6pm they got me admitted and moved me to a hospital room. I still had the IV in for fluids and they were giving me morphine every 4 hours through to IV, and also some antibiotics to help prevent infection. When we got to the room, Justin helped me go to the bathroom (again), and they got me all hooked up. I was on the blood pressure cuff again, the leg compressors, and my IV. I had to use the bathroom a few times (thanks to all the fluids they were pumping), so Justin had to help me get in there. I was very unsteady on my feet. When I checked in they gave me 3 hospital bands: one with my name and date of birth and all that, one with my allergies, and one that said “fall risk” on it. One of the things they continued to monitor was my calcium levels. At 8:28pm a nurse came in to draw blood, and that calcium level still showed 7.7, the same as earlier and lower than normal. At about 9pm Justin headed home for the evening. Technically visiting hours ended at 9, but a few of the nurses were surprised he left. But he had to take Tyler to preschool in the morning, and it was Tyler’s last day of school so they had a performance that he was going to before coming to the hospital. I told the nurses again that I was supposed to start my period Saturday but still hadn’t, so they brought me some mesh panties and huge pads from the maternity ward to wear. One nurse also suggested the “bedside commode” for me to use instead of going all the way into the bathroom, so I did that and was able to get myself up and down just to use the toilet, which was good because I was peeing every 30 minutes because of all the fluids being pumped into me. I was hoping to get some sleep, but between the bit of pain I was having, peeing so often, and the nurses coming in to check on me, check my vitals, and draw blood, I didn’t get much sleep at all.
6/1/17 A few times during the night someone from the lab came in to draw blood to check my calcium levels, including a blood draw at 4:34am. This was a few more tests, with my CMP showing almost everything either high or low, but they weren’t too concerned because of the shock of surgery on my body and some of the results were diluted because of how much liquid was being pumped into my body. On that, though, my calcium had come up a little bit and was at 8.2 which was still low but closer to normal range. But since it was still low, I was given 4000mg of Tums to try to raise that. That morning, I was feeling a slight bit of tingling in my fingers, which is an early sign of low calcium. I didn’t sleep much at all through the night with the nurses coming in to draw blood, check vitals, give me pain meds, and of course having to pee every 30 minutes because of all the fluids. Around 7:30am, when the nurses switched shifts, I asked the new nurse if it was at all possible to have the IV taken out because it was hurting me more than the incision site. She said the IV won’t come out until I leave the hospital. I asked why I was still on fluids, and she asked if I had eaten anything yet. I told her it’s hard to eat something when they haven’t brought me anything to eat. When the food service brought me breakfast around 8am, it was a clear liquid diet. They brought me coffee (which I don’t drink), cranberry juice (which I don’t drink), mango icee (I don’t like mango), orange jello (I don’t like jello), and some chicken broth. Yay, chicken broth for breakfast. And I was still eating some ice chips and drinking water to keep my throat from getting too dry.
Around 11 I told the nurse that I was hungry, so she checked and I was still on orders for a clear liquid diet, so she brought me more broth. Lunch came around, and it was very similar to my breakfast. I didn’t eat anything on the tray. I slept on and off all morning, and at about 1:30 Justin got to the hospital. That was Tyler’s last day of school, and they had a performance in the morning with a pizza and salad buffet afterwards for the families to celebrate. He brought the boys back to his parents house and then came up to the hospital with me. I was hoping by the time he got there I would be ready for discharge, but I hadn’t seen Dr. Sampson yet. I asked a couple times and they said they weren’t sure what time he normally does his rounds. Since I wasn’t able to sleep much during the night, I spent most of the day sleeping on and off. I had them push the pain meds through the IV for a while, then in the early afternoon I asked for the Norco instead of the IV pain meds. I figured if I want the IV out, I can’t be relying on the medication through that. After a while, we were getting a little frustrated that Dr. Sampson hadn’t done rounds yet. Justin even tried to call their office to see if they knew when he would be there, but they didn’t answer.
Finally, around 5pm, Dr. Sampson came and made his rounds. He took the large gauze covering off my incision and said everything looked good, and if I wanted to I was good to go home that night. I said I don’t care, I just want the IV out, so he got the nurse to take it out right away for me. He looked at his calendar and said to call in the morning and set up an appointment for next Friday (June 9) for a follow-up, no exercise, no lifting anything over 10 pounds, and rest as much as possible. They said to shower every day, just don’t let the water directly hit the incision for a few days. He didn’t do stitches or staples, like I asked, so the layers of bandages would start coming off in the next few days, and should all be off within 5-7 days. They sent me home with a prescription for Norco for pain, and Cipro to try to keep me from getting any infections. I’d had them both before, and knew that the Norco makes me tired and lightheaded so we knew I just needed to be ready to lay down not long after taking it. The Cipro wasn’t any problem, I’d had that before without any adverse reaction.
Justin drove me home, and then his mom came over to be with me while he went to get my prescriptions and a couple things from walmart. I was still very unsteady on my feet, so he didn’t want to leave me alone even for the 15-20 minutes it took him to go to the store. Once he got home, I took some pain meds and the first Cipro (which wasn’t easy because it still hurt a little to swallow and Cipro is a pretty big pill), then laid down in bed with the iPad and started watching the show iZombie. I watched just one episode and was too tired, so went to bed early. I told Justin that I wanted to make sure that I take pain meds every 4 hours at least for the first couple of days. That’s what I did after my c-section and it helped a lot. If I missed a dose, I definitely started feeling pain. So Justin set a timer on his watch and we woke up every 4 hours for me to take another Norco, and he also helped me to the bathroom since I still wasn’t exactly steady yet. The official time in my medical records that Dr. Sampson did his discharge reporting was at 5:16pm and the official time of discharge, when I actually left the hospital, was 6:14pm.
7:48pm and 8:14pm I posted this message on my personal facebook page and in my mommas group to update everyone that I was finally home!
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