Monday, March 24, 2014

Rather Delayed Update

   Well, it's been awhile. In that time, The Fella got his employment authorization document (Early January 2014), got a job, then got his green card! Whee! It's been quite a ride lately. And best part-- he's eligible for health insurance and other benefits at the end of this month. YAY!

   The other major thing that's come up is having my thyroid removed. Not sure if I mentioned it in a past post, but I found out in March of 2013 that I had a nodule on the right lobe of my thyroid and was told "possible thyroiditis". I was prescribed steroids for a week, then told to take Aleve for a week. I had a fine needle biopsy done on the nodule shortly after stopping the Aleve and found out it was benign. Still had some troubles, but with all the immigration stuff and wedding planning (amongst other things), the thyroid thing took a back seat until a couple months after the wedding. Then, I just couldn't handle it anymore. I was tired, my neck was uncomfortable. I was having difficulty breathing (always felt like something was stuck in there and made it difficult to get comfortable at night to sleep). Stuff like that. Yet on the other hand, I wasn't experiencing many of the symptoms of being hypo- or hyper-thyroid. I was really cold a lot of the times (not totally out of character for me) and I started always feeling like I had a cold or the beginning of a really bad cold. I finally decided to go in in December. They ultrasounded they thyroid and nodule again and checked my bloodwork again. All of my stuff came back normal. No idea why.
   In January, I was *really* fed up, not feeling great, and was sick of dealing with it. Went back to the doctor and she referred me to an endocrinologist. In the end, that was one of the best things that could happen. Talked to the Endocrinologist the end of January and he did some more blood tests and did a quick ultrasound at his office. Consensus-- I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and the recommendation was that due to that and the fact that the thyroid was rather enlarged and inflamed (because of they thyroiditis) and wasn't going down and that I had a 3 cm nodule; it was recommended that I have the right side of the thyroid the very least. A total thyroidectomy was recommended if I was willing to go that route. Got a referral to a general surgeon and saw her a few days later.
   Well, we saw the surgeon beginning of February and set a surgery date for the 19th. The plan was to remove the right side, make sure the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve and my vocal cords were undamaged, then do the left side at a later day. Whee! Well, that was until I got a call from the surgeon the day before surgery saying that the more she thought about the particulars of my surgery, the more uncomfortable she was with it and wanted to see if I was ok with a referral to a person that does this surgery all the time. So, they found a person in Denver that does this and referred me down there.
   So, at the beginning of March, The Fella and I found ourselves in Denver consulting with the surgeon. And much to our joy, she was friendly, informative, listened, and was totally ok with doing this surgery. It was brought up again that I could have half the thyroid removed or all of it. She discussed the pros, cons, and maybes of what both entailed and what I had to look forward to as far as surgery and complications and what options I had for medicines and treatments. By that time, I was totally fed up with the thyroid, how crappy I felt, and was ready to be done with the whole thing. So, after a bit of discussion the plan was made to remove all the thyroid...the next week.
   March 11th was the big day! Went to Denver the night before, met up the next morning with one of my aunts that lives in the area to check out the Museum the next morning before surgery, then headed to the hospital to get checked in. Surgery went splendid! There were a few surprises, like the fact that my thyroid was more scarred, enlarged, and otherwise in rattier shape than they thought. My lymph nodes were really inflamed since my body was attacking (and had been for quite some time) the thyroid and trying to kill it off, and there was a small amount of damage done to the cartilage of my trachea. Not much, just a bit of thinning on a couple of the rings, but enough to weaken that spot some. The surgeon said she was really glad I decided to have it all removed at the same time because of that. They managed to save 3 of the parathyroids for sure (not sure what happened to one of them) which is awesome! You only really need to have one functioning one, but as she said, the more she can save, the better off I'll probably be. The parathyroids control your calcium levels. So if you don't have any, you're on calcium supplements the rest of your life. Not exactly and ideal thing. Anyway, after I got out of recovery (vaguely remember some stuff from when in there, but not much) and got to my room and kinda rejoined the world on the same mental plane of existence, I was doing pretty ok. Sore and in pain, but not doing too bad. Spent the night in the hospital and was released the next afternoon. The first few hours out of the hospital and some of the next day were CRAP. I didn't keep up on my pain meds when we were getting the discharge time worked out, so I was in some serious pain when we finally got to the motel room. Popped 2 Norco, then snuggled with my favored ice pack and a couple of heat packs. Ice for the surgery site, heat for the back of my neck and shoulders because holy crapola did they hurt! Some of that is from how they have your head positioned during surgery, some is from hunching after surgery as a form of comfort and protection for your neck. Heat packs are your friend. Oh, and definitely sleep as upright as you can handle. Trying to get up from laying on your back hurts and if you're like me and have sinus issues anyway, laying down after they've aggravated your throat with that breathing tube is a bad idea. Gunk will drain and collect near the back of your throat which is not fun. Especially since you're coughing up gunk anyway.
   Fast forward to Friday-- post-op check up with the surgeon that morning because she wanted to take out the thin suture she used and steri-strip the incision. She did that so that I'd heal up with a less noticeable scar since I apparently have very fair, light, delicate skin and no wrinkles to hide a scar in. I'm just so happy to have the thyroid gone, that honestly, as long as it didn't look like someone did a botched job of cutting my throat then I was good with the dissolvable stitches or a suture like what she did. LOL.
   As of tomorrow (Tuesday, March 25), it's been 2 weeks since surgery. And I feel *GREAT*. I'm sure I'll come off of that as my natural thyroid hormones fade out of my system and I'm totally dependent on the synthetic hormones. But honestly, the fact that I can breathe normally again, swallow without hindrance, and move my head to the right comfortably without feeling a nodule catch, those alone are worth this. I've seen some pretty horrific post-op horror stories about this, but I didn't run into that with mine. It pays to have a good surgeon, I'll grant that. I honestly think if the first surgeon did it, I might not have had as good a recovery as I did. It took almost a full week after surgery to completely regain my range of motion with my neck, but with a bit of stretching and gently moving my head around I got the full movement of my head with no trouble at all. I still have to keep the steri-strip on until Friday, but from what I've seen of the incision site so far, it looks like it's healing up really well! YAY!
   And that really long post is pretty much what's going on around here so far. LOL.

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