Tag Archives: 50

Mom of 3 with a Multi-Nodular Goiter with Non-Conclusive FNA Results

Gina, Female, Mom of 3
Age: 50
Reason for Thyroidectomy: Multi-Nodular Goiter with Non-Conclusive FNA Results & “Suspicious” Genetic Test Results
2 Weeks Post-Surgery
Orlando, Florida

I am SO thankful for this site after all of the horror stories you read about having a Thyroidectomy and the after affects. My husband reminded me that most posters on the internet are the ones who have had a bad experience and it doesn’t represent all of the good, so, thank you for this site! I’m only 2 weeks out from my surgery, but am feeling good and healing well and hoping to put someone’s mind at ease with my story. 🙂

About three years ago I began feeling a lump and some pain on the left side of my throat. When I would bring it up to my general physician she told me that she didn’t feel anything and it only hurt because I kept touching it. She tested my TSH levels a couple of times a year and they always came back “within normal limits” so nothing was done. I began to have trouble swallowing, was choking when drinking water, and my voice was going hoarse for no reason, which affected my singing voice. I was no longer hot all the time, I’m a bit overweight, and my hair was beginning to fall out. After 3 years of complaining my GP finally said, “Fine, lets get an ultrasound of your thyroid and figure this out once and for all.” When I returned to her office for my results, the look on her face was priceless and she said, “Oh, we need to get you to an Endocrinologist immediately.” I wanted to smack her!! Her office manager called my home that evening to “make sure that I had some referrals to an Endocrinologist and to let them know if I needed any help getting an appointment.” In other words, “we screwed up and we want to cover our behinds”! Needless to say, I made an appointment that week and got right in with the greatest Endocrinologist who immediately ordered another ultrasound and a Fine Needle Biopsy of my two biggest nodules of 1.5cm. The results of my FNA came back inconclusive so they had to repeat it after waiting 6 weeks for the swelling to go down. I spent the whole month of December and Christmas wondering if I had thyroid cancer. It was miserable. This time they encouraged me to also have the genetic testing to determine once and for all if thyroid cancer was a possibility. My biopsy results came back a second time as inconclusive but the genetic testing came back as “suspicious” with a >50% chance that I had the cancer. Because of these results, and the fact that I was riddled with nodules, my doctor recommended a total thyroidectomy. I met with a surgeon and he scheduled the surgery for the next week. Since I am a singer and was concerned about this surgery hurting my voice, the doctor scoped my throat to take a reading of my vocal folds to be able to determine if there was any permanent damage after the surgery.

One thing I do not recommend at this point is to go on Google and look up ANYTHING regarding your surgery!!! I freaked myself completely out and was second guessing the surgery! My husband talked me down and with much praying and support from family and friends I went through with the surgery.

When I awoke from my 3 hour surgery I had an ice pack on my neck and my throat hurt like I had strep throat! They gave me ice chips to suck on and some good pain meds during my overnight stay in the hospital. During the early morning hours I decided to forego the strong pain meds that the doctor had me on because I didn’t like feeling “loopy” and wanted to be able to stay awake so I only took Tylenol. My surgeon opts to glue your neck wound shut instead of stitches and all of the nurses were bragging that he is an artist with this stuff. I was given 2 TUMS to take and sent home because my calcium levels were 9.1, which is apparently good. All I could do at home was lay on the couch and sleep while my family watched TV and talked around me. Eating anything but Jell-O was out of the question because of my throat. I tend to get dehydrated and constipated after surgery so I made sure to drink as much water as I could swallow, which wasn’t a whole lot because of my sore throat.
The next day I felt so much better and began to talk and do some very light head turning exercises a couple of times a day. On day 3 I began to feel a tingling in my arms and hands and around my mouth and was having trouble catching my breath. My husband was diagnosed with the Flu that morning so my teenage daughter had to take me to the E.R. where by the time we arrived, I was hyperventilating and thought I was having a stroke. My hands were all cramped up and I couldn’t move my mouth. They did an EKG and said I was not having a stroke, I was having a panic attack because of the cramping which was caused by low Calcium and Potassium levels. After being given a dose of Ativan they gave me an IV of Calcium and Potassium and I slowly began to feel like myself again. Not sure why my surgeon didn’t put me on Calcium the first day, even though the pathology showed that he had sliced three of my four Parathyroid Glands during the surgery. If I had the surgery again, I would take the calcium supplements the first day until I had my levels checked again so I wouldn’t have to go through thinking I was having a Stroke and not going to make it!

My post-op visit was a few days later and I was healing well and my wound was looking good. The doctor said the glue would eventually come off as the wound sealed up. He released me back to light work and driving but told me to wait until my month follow-up to start singing again in case there was damage done to my vocal folds. He will scope my throat again at the month visit to determine that. He told me to continue to take Calicitrate +D for a month ad that my depletion was most likely temporary.

My post-op visit with my Endocrinologist was the next day where he confirmed that the pathology came back that there was a Micro Carcinoma on my right lobe, which we had never even looked at or seen, so, removing my whole thyroid was the right decision. Thank God! I would hate to have had to undergo the surgery again to get the right side out if we had done the partial removal. Phew! My cancer was Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma, Stage I, and did not have any spreading into my lymph nodes or surrounding tissue, so no radioactive iodine treatment was necessary. I will continue to have scans and blood tests every six months until they determine there is no longer any reason to keep doing them. I was started on Synthroid treatment, every morning for the rest of my life, and told it will take up to a year to feel “normal” and get my medication levels correct. I have two daughters who now need to be examined and have genetic testing done to determine if they are susceptible for this same cancer because it is now in their family medical history. 🙁

It has been two weeks since my surgery and I have returned to half days at work. Besides being exhausted when I get home, I am feeling much better. I think that I jumped back into life too quickly and need to remember that I’m recovering from major surgery. I have been having some headaches which I think I have traced to the Calcitrate, but if I take an Excedrin Migraine with the pill it gets ahead of the pain, and knowing this is temporary, I can live with that. I hope this helps you to know that not all stories are horror stories. I know I have a long way to go, but overall, it has been a good experience and I’m looking forward to being healthy and feeling better and getting on with the second half of my life!

Site note from site author: Thank you, Gina, SO much for sharing you story! PLEASE check back with us at 6 months and then 12 months. Everyone feels pretty OK at 2 weeks.. then it’ll start to hit yah. Just take it easy, and keep us updated. xoxoxoxo Sparky

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A Chaplain’s Thyroidectomy – First Chapter in his Journey

I am still in the middle of this. I am a 50 year-old male who is active, competing in 5K and 10K races over the past twenty years or so. I participated in a Sprint Triathlon in April 2013. I plan to do another in 2014. I tell people that the thyroid thing has pretty much been a non-event for me, an inconvenience at most. My wife disagrees. But, it is really how I feel. It has taken three days from me and forced me to take a week off of work; because my boss pretty much insisted.

I am a corporate chaplain for four companies and see approximately 500 people per week. My hours are somewhat flexible and I love what I do. I look forward to going to work every day. I love to see the folks I get to serve. Currently, I only have one early morning per week (get up at 4:00 AM on site by 6:00AM); the rest of the week I don’t start until 9:00 AM. One night, I work until 10:00 PM. I have not shared my diagnosis or surgery with any of them because it is my job to serve them and help them through these types of things. If I start to share, it becomes about me. I am sure there will come a time that sharing my story with someone will be helpful to them; but that hasn’t happened yet. I have been able to hide my scar with high neck crew t-shirts (a big jump after 30 years of low v-necks). I usually wear button down collars; so, often the t-shirt doesn’t even show.

My thyroid was partially removed for nodules 7/12/2013. The doc removed the isthmus and most of the right side. First surgery was a breeze. Surgery started at 6:00 pm; out by 9:00 PM; home by 10:00 pm; back to work on Monday. Pain killers on Saturday and Sunday and at night before bed on Monday and Tuesday.

I had the rest of the thyroid removed due to papillary carcinoma on Friday, 8/23/2013. The second surgery had some complications due to a lot of lymph nodes. I needed a drain in my neck and had to stay in the hospital until Sunday, 8/25, due to calcium levels. I took pain killers in the hospital over the weekend and one on Monday. The attending physician only prescribed half the dose of pain killers as the first time. They took the edge off and I was OK.

If not for the drain, I could have gone back to work on Monday. I am still doing everything I can, work-wise, from home. I walked the quater-mile to the grocery store and back on Monday. My 68 year-old mother cut my grass on Monday because the doc said light duty for two weeks.

I went to the doc on Wednesday, 8/28, to have the drain out. The doc had received the pathology – no cancer in the left side, 3 out of 21 lymph nodes malignant. He pulled the drain and released me to cut the grass next week. My energy levels are as good or better than before the surgery.

I saw the endocrinologist yesterday. That was a blessing. I received a call from the scheduler at 1:30. She explained that she was just given instructions to set me up with the endocrinologist and when she looked at the schedule, there was an appointment that just opened up at 2:00. She asked if I could make it. Of course I could. The doc was surprised too. She said she had looked at her schedule and didn’t have any openings until November. She looked at my chart, made some calculations and upped my Synthroid dose, which I went on in the hospital. We also set up the RAI treatment plan – which starts when I get back from a vacation I have planned in September.

My treatment for RAI will be:
Week 1 – Go off Synthroid, go on Cytomel
Week 2 – Low iodine diet starts
Week 3 – Stop Cytomel
Week 4 – Start getting labs done
When TSH is above 30 call for treatment which will be administered 1.5 days later
2 Days after dose – stop Low iodine diet, resume Synthroid and Cytomel (for two weeks only)
7-10 Days after dose – Thyroid Whole Body Scan

I should be done before Thanksgiving.

I hope this was helpful and that your experience is as good or better than mine.

Bill C.

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