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swallowing problem following thyroidectomy

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Old 04-16-2008, 10:00 AM   #1
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Tammy3133 HB User
swallowing problem following thyroidectomy

I recently had a thyroidectomy as I was diagnosed with 6 thyroid nodules and a mass on the right side that was extending from the right thyroid lobe. This mass was 15 cm in size and reached all the way to my spine and was wrapped sround my carotid artery and jugular vein. Thankfully, it was not cancer although preop tests had diagnosed it as such. A frozen section was done on the thyroid during the 6 hr. surgery and the results for cancer were negative. The first night postop I was given applesauce with a pill crushed up in it. I choked on it and the next day everything went downhill quickly. I was diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia and was unable to breathe on my own and was intubated and put in a drug-induced coma for 7 days while intubated. My O2 sats were very low and my CO2 levels very high and my family was told that my organs were about to start shutting down and I was given a 10% chance of surviving this crisis. Luckily, I began to improve after a week and after a cardiologist also figured out that I was filling up with fluid. I lost 55 lbs. from fluid being drained and from not eating for 10 days, which was fine. I needed to lose it but not a recommended way to do it! My problem now is that I have great difficulty swallowing. I can eat only soft foods, like baby food, pudding, etc. Liquids reflux and come right back up in my throat so the dr. told me to thicken my liquids with this disgusting powder. It feels like the food gets just a little ways down the esophagus and then stops and gets stuck. I have actually choked several times as the liquid goes into the trachea and I cannot breathe. It is extremely frightening. This possible side effect was never mentioned to me and I cannot find out anything about it online. I have a dr. appt. with the surgeon next week but he seems to think it will improve on its own but I don't think so. It's been a month... I went in the hospital able to swallow and came out unable to. I have been wondering if anyone else experienced anything remotely like this. Am hoping it was something simple like a damaged nerve that will regenerate on its own but I'm not sure. Any advice/experience will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 04-16-2008, 12:15 PM   #2
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Re: swallowing problem following thyroidectomy

Boy, you've been through so much. What a frightening ordeal.

There have been many posts here by people who have lost their voices, and most of them seem to get it back on it's own, though it can take months, and sometimes comes back very gradually.

In your case, you can search through old threads, I do recall some old threads about people with swallowing issues.

I'm sure your doctor knows what he's talking about, you've had a lot of shifting around in your neck, and I'm sure there's a great deal of swelling. It might come back so gradually, you might not even notice the improvement initially,

I only had a teeny tiny bit of difficulty in a few weeks after surgery, and I used it as an excuse to eat ice cream (I find lots of great excuses for that!)

I hope you get better soon.

Old 04-16-2008, 04:49 PM   #3
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Re: swallowing problem following thyroidectomy

Hi Tammy,

I had a major thyroiditis episode 30 yrs ago that left me with major swallowing problems. In my case, I still have swallowing difficulty but it is doable. It does take nerves a long time to heal. For example with my carpel tunnel it took 6 months.

I can swallow liquids now. So just use the powder & wait for the day that you don't have to use it. Surprisely, liquids are the hardest to swallow. Thick soups might work. Meat is very difficult. Probably why I went vegetarian because it is easier to swallow beans & eggs. I still can't swallow regular salad greens except for leaf lettuce. I crush all my pills or dissolve them in a small amount of water. Yogurt is good too.

If worst comes to worse, there is an outpaitient procedure to help with swallowing difficulties.

Hang in there as there will be others to help you I'm sure. Fam

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