On the 24th of June, I walked into the Plano Diagnostic and Surgery Center not really knowing what I was going to come out with. I was soon to find out.
As soon as I walked in, I found out that the timing that had been set just 12 hours prior was pushed back even further than where we had started. My original surgery time was 11am, but that was moved up to 10 on Wednesday. When I arrived, I found out that I had been moved back to 12. I was a bit nervous, as to be expected, but this news made me a little more nervous.
I was taken back to the pre op area and was prepped for surgery, which involved answering the same questions that I had multiple days before, putting on some compression stockings (that was a sight, let me tell you!), and getting into a gown to hurry up and wait.
After some digging around (this would prove to be the norm for my stay) for IV access, I got some fluids, made a couple of trips to the bathroom and sat and talked with my mom, dad and Jes.
My fabulous doctor walked in right around 12 and we talked for a bit and I lost it. I had been very strong through all this and had hardly shed a tear, but knowing that I was about to be wheeled into an OR and that I had cancer, but not know what they would find when they opened me up, scared me to no end. Jes let me cry for a moment and then helped me pull it together for the entrance of the anesthesiologist who promptly took one look at me and gave me a nice dose of Versed to make me loopy. And we were off...
The last things I remembered were the nurses and anesthesiologist positioning me on the table and then she started giving me meds that put me under and we were on our way.
When I woke up, the first thing I did was locate a clock and quickly determined that it read 7:22. I then puked.
I guess I don't have to remind you that I just had my neck filet'd (as Jes would say) open and I was violently puking. Now, THAT was fun!
That continued on for the next couple of hours with every recovery room nurse giving me doses of every anti-nausea/vomiting drug they had at their disposal. After a phone call to my doctor, they all decided to give me Phenegra, Zofran AND Reglan (a drug that has recently been black boxed) to me all at the same time and THAT stopped it. It also made me high and I promptly passed out.
Forty minutes later I was moved to my room where I would spend the next few days. The vomiting was under control, only happening one more time when I literally ran (well as fast as one can run just a few hours out of the OR) from the toilet back to my bed.
The nursing staff did the best they could to leave us alone Thursday night, but since I didn't get back to my room until nearly 9:30, they did need to bother us a couple of times for vitals checks and antibiotic bag hangs. Around 5am the charge nurse decided to practice his blood draw skills on me and proceeded to poke me twice, blowing 2 veins before both my mom and I asked him to send the lab up when they got in. A few hours later a girl from the lab popped in, found a deeply hidden vein and got the blood they needed in just moments.
I spent Friday just trying to get out from under the fog that is all the meds that were pumped into my body the night before. There was alot of me going from bed to bathroom, walking the halls, and making laps around my tiny room with my mom. The other thing that I really couldn't do well was swallow. I tried to take my thyroid med Friday morning and ended up letting it dissolve on the back of my tongue because it got stuck. We also had to pulverize my pain meds and mix them with chocolate pudding. Let's just say that I don't think I'll ever be able to eat chocolate pudding without tasting that nasty bitter flavoring of Darvocet again!
By Friday night I was getting ready to get home. My IV was bothering me, I couldn't get comfortable, I was able to swallow most things, and I just ticked off at being contained. So, when my doctor pulled one drain tube and asked me if I wanted to leave on Saturday morning, I jumped at the chance. We decided that it probably wouldn't be a good idea for me to go straight home quite yet since the children would probably jump on me, so my mom took me back to her house for the night. This was the 3rd night after surgery and I was feeling pretty rotten, so it was really for the best.
Sunday morning my mom drove me home and I was never so happy to see my chaotic, messy, happy house than I was that day!
My mom hung out with us through Wednesday, yesterday, driving me to and fro and helping me get everything back in order after all the goings on of the last week.
Today, Thursday, I am exactly 1 week post op and am feeling really good. I am only taking the Darvocet at night when the pain seems to be worse, especially when I'm lying down, but I hope to wean off that this next week. During the day I just take Tylenol when I start feeling not so hot. I am also able to do a bit more everyday, so I think that I'll be ok when I'm finally left alone with the kiddos on Tuesday.
We have been so very blessed by all of my friends who have come over to either watch the kids or bring us food just about every other day. On Thursday, the day of my surgery, my friend Kim was here with both of her kids until around 3, when my friend Keri's husband came over with 2 of their 3 kids to watch Caleb and Piper. When it was apparent that I was not going to be out of surgery until late and then hung out in recovery even longer, Keri came over, after a full day's work, and put the kids to bed and sat until Jes got home around 10:30. We have had so many people bring us food, or who are going to bring us food, which has been such a blessing to not have to think about. Then there are all of the people who have been praying for us. I just can't thank everyone enough! We have been put on prayer lists all over the US and we have felt it. I don't think that we would have been able to get through this with such ease and confidence without knowing that we have so many people in our corner. We love all of you and just can't thank you enough!
Ok, so I should wrap up this super long post but I want to give my pathology report too. Again, my fabulous doctor called me himself, in the middle of his work day, to give me the report. It seems that all the lymph nodes that they removed on the left side of my neck all had papillary thyroid cancer in them but all of the margins were clear. He removed the nodes in the central (middle) portion of my neck when he took out my thyroid and those were all clear with no cancer. My thyroid was Hashimodo's hyperthyroid, so all those hyperthyroid symptoms I had been having were coming from that. Since he was in the area, he took a small piece of my thymus and had it analyzed as well. It came back clean too. He looked at the margin nodes on the right side, but those all were clear and he did not extend the incision up that side. My doctor, who has done hundreds of these in his 16 years, says that if he has to assign a number then I would have stage 1 and that since I'm so young and otherwise healthy then I will be completely clear of cancer after my 1 radiation treatment. This was the best news that I could have gotten, not only because it has such a good outcome but also because there is now no question what this was and we know that it can be cleared!