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Today’s theme is: Stay Off Google

The following story is from Steven who had a thyroidectomy as a result of papillary carcinoma. He had his thyroidectomy a week prior to this story, so he has a journey in front of him. SO happy to have this fantastic first chapter in his story, and we hope Steve keeps us all updated!
Love, Sparky

Hello all,

Today’s theme is: Stay Off Google.

My name is Steven, and I am a 27 year old male from Kansas City. Today marks one week since my total thyroidectomy. While I’m sure there will be changes to come, I at least wanted to share my experience so far in an effort to boost morale for other readers. This website helped my mental quite a bit before surgery, so I felt an obligation to do my part to contribute.

On February 27th, 2018, I went into my physician for a standard checkup/physical, due to the fact my longtime physician was retiring soon, and he wanted to see me before then. I have battled with anxiety and depression most of my life, but was almost excited to go in and see him. This is because I had been feeling FANTASTIC. I was happy with my job, happy with my hobbies, happy with my family, etc. It was the best I’ve felt in years. During the physical, he indicated he felt a small lump on my thyroid. He talked to me about the chances it was nothing, but advocated I go get a sonogram the next day at a referred hospital. I left unsettled, frustrated, felt cheated, etc. I felt ZERO symptoms, and didn’t even know what a thyroid did ๐Ÿ™‚ . The mind is funny. I left the physician feeling sick and unhealthy, despite 30 minutes prior feeling outstanding. Crazy right?

I went and got a sonogram the next day and again was told it was probably nothing, and 90% are benign. A few days later, I was called back, and the ENT Doctor explained his concern. The odds were stacked against me a bit. Reason being I am 27 and a male and healthy. The first BAD sign was that he saw some calcification in the sonogram. This is often a bad sign. The chances kept getting worse and worse for a “non-issue” nodule. The next step was an FNA Bioposy. If you are nervous about these, don’t be! It takes 25 minutes, and the worst pain you get is the numbing needle. After that, it just feels weird. Not painful. The sensation of having something inside of your neck is strange, but its over quickly.

This brings me to my first point that I’ll tackle later. The waiting around for the results from the bioposy was 10000x worse than hearing the diagnosis, going through the surgery, and recovering. I’m not exaggerating. That week of waiting was far worse on my psyche than anything. This is something to consider. Please God do not do what I did. I started googling every experience ever since the human body was developed. I surfed every message board ever reading horror stories. I blocked out the good ones, and focused on the bad ones. I convinced myself I had cancer days before I was even told there was a suspicion. It did me no good, and if I could go back in time, I would have handled that anxiety much differently.

Moving along, the reports came back as Suspicious for Papillary Carcinoma, and a TT was recommended. My world came to a stop. I defeated all the good odds. My surgery was scheduled for about 10 days later. I tried so hard to get out of it. I could not come to grips that in 2018 a TT was necessary for something “suspicious”. I sought second opinions, and looked at every method possible to keep my thyroid. But the day came closer, and I was forced to accept it.

But let’s move on to the happy stuff… : )

On March 21st, I had my thyroid removed. I was nervous of course. I was in a full gown, with an IV in my arm, being constantly asked what the doctors were doing and what my name was to protect themselves. The doctor asked “Would you like something sedating to relax you?”… If you are asked this, DO IT. It is amazing. Idk what the hell it is, but it rules. Next thing I know, I gave my dad a fist-bump and my mom a kiss, and was wheeled away.

I don’t remember going “under”. I don’t even think they warned me. BOOM! Hours later, I awoke in a strange room with someone handing me a grape popsicle. It was the best treat I’d ever had. I was in ZERO pain. I was still sleepy but realized what was happening. I was told I was being goofy and making nurses laugh, so hopefully I didn’t say anything dumb : ) But please note, I had ZERO pain. That was great of modern medicine to grant me. Soon, I was hanging out in my own room with a TV and buttons for help where I stayed the night. I got woken up at 12 and 4 for vital checks, but that wasn’t bad. I was discharged the next morning with instructions.

So here I am a week later, expecting my life to be miserable. I expected a scar under my chin that would freak everyone out. I expected to be sleepless in pain. I expected to be called back and told they had to go back in. I expected the scar to get infected. I expected to have bouts of anxiety, depression, sickness, headaches, nausea, hair loss, etc. This is because I googled all of this.

HOWEVER, One week later, I feel exactly the same as I did before. Perhaps a tiny bit more tired, but I blame that on staying up late and the mental fatigue following coming off as anesthesia. I was back to work on Monday and came back to supportive and curious coworkers. I don’t blame them. My scar is so far down my neck that you can’t even see it, and my follow up appointment noted it was healing wonderfully. Are there going to be changes in the future? Probably, but I have the full support of medicine and doctors that monitor this stuff. Will my life change? Probably, but was my experience the same as Google told me it would be? No. Not even close.

Moral of the story is please note the positive stories, and catch yourself before falling down the rabbit hole of horror stories. You have NO idea what other medical issues someone is dealing with on top of having their thyroid removed. You are not them, and they are not you. If you google the symptoms, you will convince yourself you have those symptoms.

It’s 2018. Find a trusted and experienced surgeon, recognize your options and resources, take your medicine, and hopefully your first week experience is as good as mine.

Thank you for letting me share, and hang in there!

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Filed under Papillary

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.

Blessings,
Bill C.
Chaplain

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Filed under Thyroid Cancer