Wednesday, December 14, 2005

escape from the planet of the thyroid

I look like someone tried to slit my throat, and missed.

Surgery started a little over two hours late, owing to what I presume are standard delays in hospital operating rooms as one procedure after another takes a little more time than was alloted. They thought my request for my thyroid in a jar (or, failing that, a photograph of it) was odd but amusing, but it was not something they could accomodate in any event.

I'm told the actual procedure went smoothly; thankfully, I was asleep for it. I remember being strapped down to an impossibly narrow operating table, and teasing one of the surgical crew that they must get an incredible urge to tickle patients' feet at this point, but not much else. Around this time I was getting lightheaded, so I said, "You put the anesthesia in the IV these days, huh?" The anesthesiologist said yes, and then I was out also immediately.

When I woke up, it was around 10 p.m., and I was in a post-op recovery room. Natasha, who had not been told that I had gone into surgery late, had been waiting for me for almost three hours, and no doubt was even happier to see me than I was to see her, since her brain wasn't still addled by drugs.

They moved me upstairs to my own room around 11 p.m., and Natasha left to get the girls, who had been staying with friends.

The next seven hours were brutal, not just because I was wearing a drafty blue dress, not just because it was getting increasingly uncomfortable to swallow, not just because it was cold and the nurse on duty couldn't find me an extra blanket, and not just because the fellow next to me had his light on all night so I couldn't sleep except in 15- to 20-minute increments. No, it was brutal because I was hooked up to an IV drip potent enough to keep a herd of camel traders hydrated in the desert heat, and I had to keep getting up so I could pee into a bottle, since there was no way I could make it to the bathroom with that stupid IV attached.

Around six o'clock in the morning Friday, I had two visitors. The first drew some more blood, and the second changed the dressing on my throat and removed the drains they had placed there to keep the blood from gathering. If I had been less worn out, I suppose I might have found this second one discomfiting, as it is, I think I fell asleep while he was at work.

Around nine o'clock, I convinced the daytime nurse that I was ready to eat solid food. I ate breakfast, got unplugged from the IV, and around four that afternoon, I finally stopped having to pee every 20 minutes.

My family visited for two hours, starting around four. Rachel, predictably, thought it was a really exciting new experience, and came up to me right away. Evangeline, predictably, was still upset by the whole thing, and waited nearly an hour before she would do more than sneak forlorn looks at me when she thought I wasn't looking.

Much to my surprise, I was discharged from the hospital Friday evening, less than 24 hours after the operation. (I had been told a few times that Saturday evening would be the earliest I would get out, and that Sunday was more likely.)

Since then, it's become less uncomfortable to swallow, and I can honestly say I've taken nothing stronger than Tylenol since I was discharged, even though I was given a prescription for something stronger. It still hurts a little to lean forward and kiss the girls, though, and when I sneezed the other day, it was like I had been kicked by a horse. My worst problem painwise cropped up last night, it's a persistent pain that runs from just below my right shoulder down my right side, in front. I have no idea what's causing it, although I doubt I'm growing a new thyroid. If it persists, I expect I'll go see the doctor and probably find I have some other carcinoma unrelated to my thyroid problems.

More directly related to the thyroid surgery is the fatigue I feel day to day. Generally, I can make it about three or four hours without needing to take a nap. Tonight, I went to bed early, having skipped the late afternoon nap, and probably would have done all right, except Rachel woke me up when she came into bed, and that damnable pain in my right side has kept me from getting back to sleep, since it's worse when I lie flat.

The scar on my throat is about three or four inches long, just about the length of a newborn Oompa Loompa, if I remember correctly. I don't see any stitches, so I guess they used surgical glue to close it up. It's healing pretty nicely, and when it's all done, it'll blend in naturally with the normal lines and creases people have in their necks anyway.

In the meantime, though, like I said, it looks Jack the Ripper had bad aim.

1 comment:

JJ said...

Glad to see you're up and about.