My thyroid function levels from my bloodwork were perfect, but the mass on the left side of the gland is huge. I am scheduled to have a hemithyroidectomy on September 6. Actually, I am rather relieved that I'll be having the surgery, because I wasn't too thrilled with having a growth somewhere that it shouldn't be, especially since I've had them before in other organs and needed surgery.
My Doctor doesn't think the nodule is cancerous, but they will do a biopsy, and if needed I will have to have the othet lobe removed. Since my function levels were so good, I won't be taking any meds, but we will redo the bloodwork in three months to check on it.
How can I expect to feel after the surgery? What about recovery time? I will only be staying in the hospital overnight.<p>[This message has been edited by jayme (edited 08-17-2002).]
I had the surgery May 2 and all went well, My throat did hurt for a few days I had all of mine removed due to cancer. I found this in the Information Achive on this board it is what to expect from surgery
What to Expect from Thyroid Surgery
They will do some pre-op tests a couple days before the surgery (complete blood panel, EKG, pregnancy test). The day of the surgery, they may allow you to walk into the operating room (I did). You will only lose about a teaspoon of blood during the procedure, so there's no need to donate your own blood pre-surgery because there's no risk of needing an emergency transfusion.
Tell your surgeon about all supplements you are taking and ask if they feel you should continue or stop at a particular point in the next few days. If you have a nutritionist/herbalist, speak with them as well.
The procedure itself typically takes two-four hours. It would take less time, but they pause before closing while your nodule(s) and/or thyroid are examined under a microscope for abnormal cells. This pathology is called a frozen section biopsy. They do this frozen section for each lobe separately (they did with me), so it could extend the surgery time. After the surgery is complete, they will do a full dissection of your thyroid gland to be sure there are no abnormal cells. The pathology report for this will be complete in about two weeks after the surgery.
Be aware that there is a slight chance that the frozen section biopsy will appear clean, yet abnormal cells may still be found after the total dissection is complete in a couple of weeks. This follow-up diagnosis of malignancy can happen because the frozen section is a quick look at one specific area of the removed tissue. If there are very few abnormal cells or if they're in an isolated area, they may not be discovered until the full dissection is complete. In these rare instances, a second surgery may be required (if you had only a partial thyroidectomy) to remove the remaining tissue.
Following surgery, you'll be in recovery (semi-conscious) for a couple of hours, and then you're typically in the hospital 1-2 days. You may have some nausea as the anesthesia wears off. The healing time at home can be as long as one-two weeks before returning to normal activity.
Everyone reacts to theses things differently, but I was pretty fortunate. I only let them keep me overnight in the hospital (and would have left the same day if I could). And I returned to work in 3 days, although this is NOT recommended by the docs. I was just bored at home.
You will notice that the skin of your neck is numb. The nerves that were cut during the incision will regenerate and the sensation will return to normal in a few weeks. There is some neck pain (like a dull ache) and swelling, but I only took regular tylenol for it. Your doctor may give you something stronger to ease your comfort. You can also put ice on your neck to keep the swelling down. It may feel like you have a sore throat, so drink lots of liquids and speak as little as possible the first couple days. The stitches are removed in a week (once they start itching), and your comfort level increases substantially after they're gone.
A "soft food" diet may be recommended, and is only necessary while you have feelings of a sore throat. It is up to you when you feel up to having foods with more texture.
Be prepared for some discomfort when driving, especially during that quick turn of the head before changing lanes. You may want to make other transportation arrangements for a couple of weeks after the stitches are removed.
I kept gauze (loosely attached on the sides with some surgical tape) or a 1/2 bandage loosely over my scar and covered lightly with a scarf to hold it in place so I minimized things from randomly brushing against the wound. Some folks are extra sensitive and don't want anything touching the wound, but I found it helpful to keep the pain minimal and to keep people from asking about it. And I also covered it with gauze at night so it wouldn't hurt if I turned in my sleep.
Also, after the stitches were removed, I was packing the wound with Vitamin E oil and some herbs that help reduce scars, so I needed the gauze to keep my clothes clean. The docs need it clean for observation, so you may want to limit yourself to only Vitamin E until your re-checks are complete. Then, if you want, but some Golden Seal capsules and Slippery Elm capsules. Open one of each and mix the powders together. You can apply this "people paste" to any open wound or burn that has been lightly moistened. (I use Vitamin E or Arnica cream/ointment for moistening.) The paste helps heal from the inside out, so you'll notice the skin healing beneath the wound before the surface heals. And scars are much reduced.
The incision/scar will get a bit puffy over the next six-eight weeks, and you may bruise a little. The puffiness will reduce in size as you heal. Once the incision is completely closed, you may break up the scar tissue formation by kneading and twiddling the scar (rub between your fingers in every direction you can manage for as long as you can take it). This is a bit painful, but I did it for about 10 months or so and my scar did not keloid and is now completely flat.
Homeopathy was extremely helpful to me, and it minimized my reaction to the anesthesia as well as my bruising and discomfort. I healed extremely fast, and now have a thin "smile" scar at the base of my neck that looks like a normal crease. If you are willing to use homepathic remedies, I've posted instructions on Page 1 of this Information Archive:
Look for my post of 9/10/01. You should start the Arnica Montana 1-2 days before your surgery for best results. It will definitely help with the bruising and swelling. Arnica cream or ointment during the healing process will also help with the bruising.
If they remove the full gland, you will have to be on thyroid meds for the rest of your life. If they remove your parathyroid(s), you may also have to start taking Calcium every day. Sometimes (even when they're not removed) the parathyroids are traumatized from the surgery, and your blood calcium levels drop a bit. So, they may have you taking Calcium supplements even if they leave the parathyroids intact.
Your doctor may or may not recommend RAI (radioactive iodine) ablation a few months after surgery as a follow-up treatment. This painless procedure may not be necessary if you do not have abnormal cells. The reason for it is to kill off any remaining thyroid tissue so that it's easier to treat you with thyroid meds. (That way the meds aren't conflicting with active tissue in your body, and you can be regulated easier.)
Also here is the link to the Archive there is alot of information in it Hope this helps. <A HREF="http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000005.html" TARGET=_blank>http://www.healthboards.com/ubb/Forum118/HTML/000005.html</A>
<p>[This message has been edited by marsv63 (edited 08-17-2002).]
Thanks for posting that, Marcia. Jayme, if the doctor ends up removing your total thyroid gland, you will need to be put on meds. But, with your diagnosis, it is more likely that you will be left with a portion of the gland and will be fine without meds. If meds are required, it may take several months to a year before you feel completely well and balanced. Otherwise, the description above pretty much covers it.