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Has anyone had thyroid surgery?

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,476
Hi. I was hoping that with all the people on these boards, maybe someone could help me. I found a thyroid message board, but traffic is light.

I found out three days ago that I have thyroid cancer and will require surgery to remove my entire thyroid. The cancer is not aggressive, and I'm assured that once the thyroid is removed, the threat is eliminated. That said, I'm still dreading this surgery and recovery! Has anyone had, or know anyone that had, their thyroid removed? I'm most worried about recovery time, as I have a very physical job, so I'm afraid I'll be out of work for a while and want to know what to realistically tell my managers. The first available consult appointment, even with "urgent" status, is Oct. 14th, and at that appointment I'll just be meeting my doctor, so until then I'm trying to do some research on my own to know what questions to ask at that meeting.

Thanks in advance :sick:
 

smitcompton

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 11, 2006
Messages
2,694
Hi,

My son had surgery for thyroid cancer two yrs ago. It turned out not to be thyroid cancer, but lymphoma. However the surgery was essentially the same. He was in hospital 2 weeks, which I think is long. He couldn't talk, and had to use paper and pencil for communications for 10 days or so. His voice came back gradually. I think a nurse came for another month or so to help drain and keep the wound clean. It was a project. Of course the Dr. can tell you pretty precisely how long it will take for you to heal. My son was in good condition before the surgery.

It is serious surgery, but the treatment for thyroid cancer is not often aggressive. I remember something aqbout iodine.

Give yourself time to heal. Recovery, imo should not be rushed. I hope you do well, and recover quickly. I think you might need six weeks. There are some Drs here who can chime in perhaps.

Thanks,
Annette
 

Amber St. Clare

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
1,628
I'm sorry you are having problems. I had a very large growth on my thyroid that wasn't cancerous.

I had half of my throid removed on Aug. 3. I was placed in Intensive Care for the first 24 hours and then regular setting for 2 more days. My recovery was swift, or at least I thought it was, my drs. kept telling me the slow down and take it easy. I was instructed to rest as needed when I got home.My husband took time from work to take care of me, but in all honesty it wasn't needed. I sat on the couch and watched things I had dvr'd.

Physically I felt ok but my drs. told me to take a month off from the gym {I am unemployed so rushing back to work wasn't an issue}. I was also told to not lift anything. It took about 3 weeks until I was feeling back to normal, but both my endocrinologist and surgeon kept cautioning me about doing too much too soon so I listened to what they said and let them tell me when I was back to 100%. My voice at times still gets scratchy without warning. I've spoken with several people who have had this surger and some recovered faster than others.

I will admit to tiring more easily since the surgery. I also take a thyroid pill and have my levels monitored. One benefit for me was that my out of control appetite seems to be a thing of the past and I've lost over 10lbs. without really trying.

I wish you the best.
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
no, but having thyroid issues i've done some research.

have you found this woman?

http://thyroid.about.com/bio/Mary-Shomon-350.htm?nl=1

if you haven't, poke around her website and any references you can find about her on the internet....also her books.

good luck.
 

LGK

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 27, 2007
Messages
2,975
I had the exact same situation at 20. I had the surgery without knowing it was cancerous- the surgery was way easier than the biopsy really. I was fast-tracked to surgery within about a week of finding out there were abnormalities in the biopsy, and they didn't know that the smaller of the various tumors were cancerous until post-surgery.

Definitely take your pain meds. Do not wait until the pain kicks in, and THEN take your pain meds- take them on schedule, after you leave the hospital. That will help!

You'll be fine. Totally the "best" cancer you can be diagnosed with. You'll be hoarse for a while, since your vocal chords are involved (the thyroid wraps around them I think). You will have a hard time driving since you can't turn your head- plan for that. It'll be a week at least before you can drive, for sure- if not longer. That was the worst for me.

Huge hugs. Scary stuff, but you'll be totally fine I'm sure!

Definitely do NOT tan for the first year or so. (I mean, we shouldn't tan at ALL, but be absolutely scrupulous about this and your scar will be way minimized.) Put sunblock over your scar during that time, and vitamin E. I did that, and 15 years later my scar is virtually invisible. It'll be pretty noticeable for a year or so, but will fade with time- just don't tan during that time, or it'll be much, much whiter and more visible.

As of now, I don't take thyroid meds. I do not know why- thyroids are not livers and don't regenerate!- but for some reason, over the years, I took lower and lower doses of thyroid meds until the last year when I stopped needing them. Bodies are weird.

ETA: I was in the hospital for only overnight, then home the next day. I started my sophomore year of college the week after surgery though I was moving a bit slow for awhile. I was in a bit of pain but I found my wretched four-impacted-wisdom-tooth surgery more painful, post op. And about the same recovery time, I think- about a month and I was 100% if I recall, for both.
 

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,476
Thanks for the input everyone!

LGK, you had the most poignant advice :) I've always been concerned with tanning but I'll definitely back off after what you suggested.

Annette, it sounds like your son had a much longer hospital stay than usual! Yikes! I've read the normal is about 1-2 days.

The hardest part with me will be staying away from work until I'm physically ready. I love my job and because of that it will be really hard for me to stay away, even if I'm not feeling up to it, so I'll have to force myself to stay away. Thank you for sharing your experiences!
 

LGK

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 27, 2007
Messages
2,975
It is hard giving yourself time to heal. Do your best, you'll be totally fine and in no time at all, it'll be a small blip on the radar of your memories.

You seriously can't even see my scar now. I can point it out to people and they squint and are like... "What? Where?" If you get a good surgeon, they can really do a great job minimizing the scarring- they place the incision right along the natural curve of your neck.

Do NOT turn your head before you should. Pulling your stitches will be the biggest scarring risk- I managed that on about 1/2 inch of my scar (trying to see my blind spot, driving and turning my head before I should've) and that part is absolutely the most noticeable part of the scar, now, years later. If you're freaking out about having a giant scar on your neck- you probably won't.

If you want me to take a pic to show you what barely remains of mine, just let me know, I can totally do that if it will reassure you!

One cool thing is- I hated chokers before my surgery, but now I can wear them because I can barely feel them. You often end up with some numbness due to cut nerves over the scar and around patches of your neck- and the result is, where a choker sits I have not much sensation so they don't bother me at all. :rodent:

The word CANCER scares the pants of pretty much anybody, but thyroid cancer is super, super slow growing and almost always easy to cure with surgery. I had several abnormal tumors and one cancerous one, and didn't need radiation treatment. Unless you have multiple cancerous tumors, you probably won't need radiation either- and even if you do, apparently it isn't a huge deal; I had one friend who also had thyroid cancer and did have radiation, and she said it was no big deal at all. Chemo is one thing that us thyroid cancer folks luckily don't get stuck with too much unless it's travelled, which is pretty unlikely, at least with the variety I had. I was diagnosed with it at 20, it had probably been growing for years and even so, the surgeon who worked with me said that it would've likely been 20 more years before it was a major risk of metastasizing.

You will be totally fine, promise. It's way scarier sounding than it really is. My mom also had thyroid cancer (I wonder, did we take a vacation near Chernobyl and not remember? :rolleyes:) and she's been 100% fine afterwards too.

Let us know how it goes for sure. Tons of dust and and e-hugs!
 

sonnyjane

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 13, 2008
Messages
2,476
Thanks, LGK!

20 is young to find that out! I'm 28 and read that it was unusual for someone my age to have them, so 20 is really young. Like you said, who knows how long I have even had this. I had no symptoms, my doctor just happened to feel my neck during a check-up. It probably would have been a while before I would ever notice it myself, so I'm lucky she found it when she did.

Regarding the scar, I'm not too concerned. My husband and I actually had a brief brainstorming session of all the cool stories I could rattle off to explain a big slit across my throat haha.
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
scarves are your friend......good excuse to get a lovely silk!
 

Amys Bling

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
11,025
My mom had thyroid cancer 6 hrs ago. She had the surgery and then the radiation (I want to say radioactive??? She was quarentined for 24 hours at the hospital and then secluded in our house for another 48). No chemotherapy. She was sore and hD to eat soft foods for a while but once she healed- everything was fine. They do say thyroid cancer is among the most treatable.
 

Amys Bling

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 25, 2010
Messages
11,025
As for the scar- my moms is not even noticeable. She went through a renowned doctor in the NYC tristate area (dr. Tomei) and the procedure and recovery was smooth- and after the initial few months the scar really diminished.
 

Fly Girl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 9, 2007
Messages
7,312
DH had half his thyroid removed about 2 years ago at age 55 because of a large growth. It has taken over 18 months to get his meds right. He dragged around and was always tired for almost two years. Thyroid tired is different than other kinds of tired. Your whole metabolism is slower. He got permission to up his meds by 1/2 tablet a week the last time he had his thyroid levels tested, and this seems to have done the trick. His replacement levels turned out to be on the high side so it took a while to get there, as they start with low levels and slowly raise them. Finally, he seems to be perking up and enjoying life again. His smile is back. It can take time to get the replacement hormones at the right levels. We were told up to a year, but it took longer for him. He sits at a desk and works on the computer, so not a physical job. He was able to go to back to work after a week, or so.

His scar is no longer noticable, but he wore loose scarves for a number of months after the surgery. Better to look a bit odd (he wore it in a loose cowboy style--it had to be loose) than to explain the scar. Women will look more normal wearing a scarf. He is a singer, and was worried about his voice, but he was able to speak right away. The singing voice was weak for a while, but has gotten stronger. When he got tired, I would hear it right away in his voice, which would be deeper and hoarse. This happened a lot in the early months. I rarely notice it now.

You will be fine. A lot of people are walking around living normal lives without their thyroid.

1948_postcard Cowboy Scarf.jpg
 
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