January 27, 2017 was the big day. Plan was to be at hospital for 730 am which was way too early for hubs. Because the plan was me coming home later in the afternoon, nothing extra was packed. I had my pillow, ice packs, Tylenol, ginger-ale all ready to go when I got home!!! Oh and Netflix all fired up and ready..
Prep Nurse came out and took me to the back to get ready for surgery. It was pretty fancy actually. There was a warm air inflated blanket to keep me warm while we waited patiently to get called in and the nurses were uber nice. They gave me some pre surgery Tylenol for kicks, which came with a sip of water that i really needed. Hubs and I did the normal people watching guessing what they were in for. Ironically, someone was having surgery that had the same name as I do. So they put flags on my bed, bright pink stickers on my stuff and orange wrist band to be sure they had the right person. How often does that happen in ones life???
The time came to say goodbye to hubs and get carted to the OR waiting area. It was 910 am. I was on the stretcher outside the OR for a bit.. Anesthesiologist came out and asked the list of questions one being “do you ever get sick after surgery??” To which I happily advised that I had never been sick before and even knocked on wood! Once in the OR, they do this roll call with each doctor and nurse to say out loud what there job will be during the surgery. My Doc explained right thyroid lobectomy, there was consent for a total but he is 100% sure that it will just be right removal. That was the last thing I heard before I did the count back from 10 and closed my eyes.
Waking up was very scattered. I felt horribly nauseous and there was a nurse explaining to me that they were giving me more pain medication and something to stop the nausea. I heard people around me talking to each other saying that I had a total thyroidectomy because of the carcinoma they found and that they were waiting for a room to open up to keep me for a few days. I wasn’t sure if they were talking about me or not because I was going home today and not staying. It must had been someone else, maybe it was the person who had the same name as me?? My surgery had gone on for a lot longer than I was originally told it would be. The next couple of hours totally flew. I was so ill, dry heaving, and sore. The nurses had to explain to me a few times that I had to stay because they did a Total Thyroidectomy (TT) and my calcium kept tanking. This wasn’t what I had agreed to. I felt my blood being taken again for the calcium and threw up. I was told my room was ready and I was going to be transported up to surgical floor. I noticed the clock for the first time since surgery, it was 630pm. I felt my neck for George, he was definitely gone and in his place was a draining tube.
Being wheeled into my room, I saw hubs there looking like he had been through the ringer. I listened while the recovery nurses did their run down to the floor nurses who would be taking care of me. I heard that word again. but still didn’t clue in that it was me. The next hour I was in and out of sleeping mode and severe nausea. I asked Hubs what Doc told him. He said that He had told him he found something that was suspicious and had no choice but to remove it all. Hubs looked so exhausted so i told him to go home and get rest and assured him i would be ok. after he left I threw up a few times, and had to have my bedding changed. so happy he left when he did. They give you the smallest throw up tub. Really?? that wouldn’t hold a freezie!!
Pain wise, my neck was sore, almost bruise like sore mostly. It did hurt to swallow, so the tray of food that was brought in, stayed there until it was taken out. With the nausea and sore throat, I was quite happy sucking on ice chips. Nurses came in and did their checks, gave me pain meds, took blood for calcium level, changed the drainage bulb and of course compliment me on my lovely eyelashes!!
Next morning, Doc came in and said that it was one of the very few times in his career that he has been so surprised in a surgery. He doesn’t like to deviate from a plan and he had no choice. There was a suspicious lymph node and a piece of thyroid on the left side, the pathology confirmed it as definite, so he removed all of it. he said he believed he did get everything, but because it spread outside of the thyroid, there will have to be more follow up. He asked me several times if I had any questions, which for some reason I didn’t. I just sat there with a stupid numb face and kept saying no. He did tell me that he had explained everything to my hubs the night before. Which Im pretty sure hubs said nothing to me about any lymph nodes. I was shell shocked and in disbelief.
When my parents and sister started messaging me, I really wasn’t sure anymore what Dr had said. Maybe I didn’t hear things right or misunderstood?? I was confused about the whole conversation. I waited until Hubs came in and gave him the 3rd degree about why he wouldn’t tell me everything Dr had said. He swore that he never heard anything said about lymph nodes or confirmed/definite anything and he said he is pretty sure he didn’t hear the word cancer. He also said, He had been waiting for hours for some word. That the surgery was only suppose to be an hour and a half and it turned into several. He was at his witts end by the time Surgeon came around the corner to see him. He might have missed something?? so Now we waited for the Dr to make another appearance.
I had to stay at hospital because my calcium kept tanking and they had to check blood tests every few hours. My arms looked like I was a heroin addict of some sort.. I was a human pin cushion. Pain wise things weren’t terribly bad. As sore as to be expected. I only needed Tylenol during the day and then the Dilaudid at night. I still wasn’t interested in eating very much, throat felt a bit sore still. I also still had the drain and tried to shower with it in.. That was cartoon worthy. I don’t do well with greasy hair and because I wasn’t expecting to stay, I was depending on Hubs to bring in my things as I needed it. Most important thing he did bring was my favorite pillow.. that was a God send!! and clean underwear.. nurses would have appreciated that one!!
Day 4 was emotional for me. I had no thyroid and no medication for one yet. Was tired of the drain still in, sick of getting blood taken so many times a day, not sure what was going on and going stir crazy at the hospital. I wanted to rest at home in my own bed, in my own bathroom, on my own couch!! That morning I over heard a couple nurses doing the patient run down outside my door (I had semi private room). I heard the one nurse explaining to the rookie nurse that thyroid cancer patients sometimes have trouble with calcium levels. I still wasn’t thinking they were referring to me. Hubs and I still had yet to speak to Doc again and I was too chicken to ask anything. The nurse and her rookie came in and were so amazing. I was digesting what I had heard earlier and was in my sorry for myself mode. One of my Docs interns came in and told me that my levels were still too low to go home yet but they would take out my drain. I started crying at the thought I wasn’t going home and once I started, I couldn’t stop. When my nurse came in I was sobbing and I wasn’t sure why anymore. She took my drain out for me. While she was taking it out she said that it was no wonder I was crying because my life had changed so much in one weekend. She asked if I had support at home to help me deal with things.. my mind was reeling. WHAT WAS SHE TALKING ABOUT??????
After she left my room, I called my hubs upset. He was on his way into the city to see me. He spent the entire days with me while I was being held captive in there. He was great.. My sister was away on a tropical island which was the worst timing ever. I was losing my mind int hat place and feeling so sorry for myself over what I was hearing. Thankfully, a very good friend had stopped by the hospital for a surgical follow up she had a few weeks earlier. She made my tears stop, and made me laugh at the perfect time. After hubs got there, we sat and waited patiently, it was late afternoon when we had heard our Doc was on the floor.
When Doc came in he told me that he was going to let me go home as my calcium was ok enough to spring me out. Hubs blurted right out.. “I don’t recall you saying anything to me on Friday about Cancer or Lymph nodes”. Doc told him that he had explained both of those things in great details to him on Friday but he was in obvious shock hearing it. He also pointed out that I was in shock when I heard it and may still be. He explained that he did find a very suspicious lymph node and some thyroid tissue. pathology confirmed that it was definite papillary carcinoma. Because it spread outside of lobe, they would have to do RAI again on me then a PET scan after to see if it spread anywhere else. He was very positive that he got all of it on the first go, he cleaned out my neck as much as he possibly could. Its very rare he misses something like this so he was pretty perturbed that this was missed at all. He said it was the best possible scenario as This was the best cancer to have (I think any cancer diagnosis is the worst). We would see him again to discuss treatment options in a few weeks. He also told my husband that I was obviously still in shock as I was already packing my stuff to get out of there and not paying any attention to what he was saying. Truth is, I didnt want to hear what he was saying, I just wanted to get the heck home.
I got my release papers, the nurses hugged me goodbye and gave me several prescriptions to take with me, including 150 mg of synthroid(yea thyroid replacement!!) among handfuls of sterile strips.??? I didn’t even have sterile strips on to begin with!! and it was way more than anyone would ever need in one lifetime.. The hour long ride back home was pretty quiet. I had sent my parents a message, my sister a message and a couple close friends messages during the ride home. Hubs and I briefly talked about it. He was being very optimistic. Reiterating that parts where Doc said he got it all and its the best case cancer to have, not like breast or liver cancer..really?? that is ok?? I really didn’t feel this was right, it was like someone made a mistake somewhere and I was in a dream. This just wasn’t my story. I had gone into the city to have a goiter removed. A procedure that would have sent me home that same day. Instead now, I was leaving without my thyroid, having been in hospital for 4 full days, with hypocalcemia and now with cancer??. Actually, not really cancer as it would have been removed?? My brain was not digesting this information at all. and looking back, there was a reason.. never doubt your intuition!!! My family and I struggled for 3 weeks trying to cope with this Cancer thing, on top of everything else I was dealing with only to learn at my treatment appointment that a 2nd Pathologist overturned the original diagnosis of cancer….