One Week Post Operation

Surgery Day.
Spent in hospital recovering from surgery.  At first my throat and mouth were so dry it was painful but that was while the anaesthetic was wearing off.  Once I was fully awake and moving around I felt really good.  I had no pain, very little discomfort, and I was refusing the pain meds they kept offering me.  A few times it felt like I had a burp trapped behind my vocal chords which was not a pleasant experience.  My main complaint was being hooked up to a drip and a drain as they made going outside for a smoke a hassle.

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Day One.
In hospital for half the day, still feeling great, still refusing pain meds but I was anxious to go home.  Recovery took a set-back in the afternoon as hospital staff tried to delay my release and that really upset me. I felt tired and battered, as if I had overdone things a bit, when I finally did get home but still no real pain.

Day Two.
I am feeling much better than I hoped I would be but I’m kind of glad they gave me two days worth of pain meds to take home.  My throat is a bit tender and it hurts to cough or swallow which is wearing me down a bit.  I don’t think the pain has gotten any worse though.  I just think the bruising is setting in and I am not handling the pain as well as I was before.

The low-grade nausea I have been living with for years now seems to have gone and I no longer need to eat every ten minutes just to settle my stomach which is great.

I have also not been suffering from the breathlessness I used to get whenever I did even something as simple as walking from the lounge to the kitchen.

I am feeling tired and sort of weak quite often though.  I am not able to sleep as much as I’d like to either as, if I lie down, I start coughing and that hurts.  I’ve propped myself up on pillows and, whilst I don’t cough as much in that position, it isn’t comfortable.

One of the main advantages I am finding is that, being older, my skin is loose and I am not having any problems moving my head in any direction.  No doubt someone with a firmer jawline would be feeling extremely restricted in how much they could move but I seem to have almost as much freedom of movement now as I had before the operation.

My throat is tender when I swallow but I can eat whatever I want so that is another bonus.

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My main problem, until a few minutes ago, was a waterproof dressing that was put on all wrong (see above – this is how it looked when it had just been put on – it was pulling then and it only got a whole lot worse!).  It was pulling my head down and twisting my skin and generally driving me crazy so I pried up the edges and now it has come off.  I have taped it back on and will try to find a replacement at a chemist later today but it’s a huge relief.

I can see there definately is some swelling and bruising at the wound site but, all in all, I would describe what I have suffered so far as mild discomfort not pain.  I have been taking the pain meds because I was instructed to but also to try and ease the discomfort of coughing and because they told me they are anti-inflammatory and I am hoping to prevent swelling.

Day Three.
I didn’t end up going to a chemist so I used bandaids to stick the dressing back down over the wound and I have to say the dressing is causing a lot of my discomfort although the wound is starting to really itch now.

I tried to make an appointment to see my doctor to have the staples removed but she is on holidays for two weeks so I am going to be seeing her colleague instead.

I was nervous about how the staples will be removed so I googled it and discovered there is a special tool they use.  The tool bends the staple in the middle and, as it bends, the ends flick up and out of the skin.  It looks simple, quick, and easy.

I just hope the doctor has that particular tool and he won’t try digging the staples out with anything else!

Day Four.
The wound looks like it has healed but the area just above it is swollen and pouched over it.  The skin around a couple of the staples at one end of the wound seems red and irritated and a lot of the itch is located there.  Some bruising is also quite visible now.  My daughter is at work so I can’t get a photo of it.  I will try and get her to take one when she comes home later today but it won’t be until after the staples have been removed as that will be happening in about four hours from now.

Someone wrote about having skin pouching around their wound and a surgeon told them that was actually good because the healing process involves the body laying down collagen, chewing it up, laying down more, chewing that up and so on until it is all completely healed.  He said there will be a lot of shrinkage and a good surgeon will allow for that by leaving extra skin so there won’t be a dent in the skin where the scar is.

The cough continues to be a problem but I guess I am getting used to it as it is not hurting quite as much.  I suspect it is not a thyroid operation issue but a smoking one to be honest.

It is now the afternoon of day four and the staples have been removed.  The relief is amazing.  Now there is no tenderness or itch at all.  Just a sort of tightness where the scar is.  Even swallowing seems easier.

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The doctor had the right tool and I didn’t feel most of the staples come out.  Only the ones that were a bit red and itchy hurt a tiny bit as they were removed but I think my body had tried to heal over those two.

I was given the staples and they look a lot smaller than they did when they were in my flesh.

The doctor said I am healing “very well” and he told me to avoid touching the scar as much as I possibly can.  He said touching it will interfere with healing and may make the scar more noticable.  I asked about using bio-oil or some other healing aid and he said absolutely not for at least three months.  He said even when it comes to washing the area I should touch it as little as possible for best scar results.

I got a phone call from the hospital when I came home.  They have given me a follow up appointment for next Monday.  As far as I know that is when I will be told if it is cancer or not.

Day Five.
I guess the cough was related to the surgery after all because it settled down last night and I actually got a good nights sleep.  The cough started out as occasional and dry, worked its way up to often, productive, and with a lot of throat clearing but now it seems to have settled back to occasional coughs with a fair bit of throat clearing.

The bit of gauze the doctor taped over the wound after he removed the staples comes off today.  He said to keep it on for 24 hours.  Not sure why as it is more a token bandage since it flaps open and reveals the scar when I bend over.

Day Six
Another good nights sleep thanks to no lump pressing on my windpipe any more and I was able to almost forget I’d had surgery as the wound didn’t object to any position I curled up in and that included being almost on my tummy with pillows pressing on the wound itself.

There is still a fair bit of swelling but yesterday it all seemed to be above the scar and today it seems to have dropped a bit so it is more swollen beneath the scar than it has looked to be up until now.

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There is still a little bit of tenderness when I swallow and the site is tender if I actually touch it, which I try not to do, but the most noticable thing now is a sort of tightness where the scar is.

It isn’t bothering me that much but it might bother others.  To get an idea of how it feels it is as if I have tied a hat on and the hat has fallen down my back and is being held there by thin ties across my neck.  Not a heavy hat, however, a light one that is just heavy enough to pull on it’s ties and that’s all.

Now the thyroid related breathlessness has gone I can see the difference between it and the heavy smoker type breathlessness.

My smoking related breathlessness is situated in my lungs, it is consistent and it is basically painless.  If I climb this many stairs I’m fine, if I climb that many, I’m out of breath and puffing.  If I walk this many steps I’m fine, if I walk that many, I will get out of breath and it doesn’t depend on anything but how far I push myself.  The only time there is any pain is if I seriously over-exert myself.

The thyroid related breathlessness was very different.  I realize that now.  It was a painful tightness across my chest just below the collar bone.  It was not at all predictable.  Most times I could take a shower without any problems.  Sometimes I’d be breathless by the time I was finished but once in a while the breathlessness came within minutes of getting in the shower.  Most times I could walk from the lounge to the kitchen without problems but, more and more often lately, I would get pain and breathlessness even just doing that.

It’s been six days now.  I have walked and climbed stairs and done all the things that used to bring it on but, whilst I have been a trifle out of breath doing some of those things, the painful breathlessness has not appeared even once.

I’m feeling a bit weary at times on a physical level but that is nothing compared to how weary I felt psychologically before.  My mood has lifted a bit.  I am not quite so ready to die any more.  I want to do things like go buy some new clothes, visit a friend, explore a market or something.  It’s early days and I might just be feeling a bit stir crazy but it has been a very long time since I actually WANTED to do any of those things!

My daughter has been wanting me to do something about my “bag lady” wardrobe for a long time so, this afternoon, she is taking me shopping at the place her boss buys clothes from.  She says her boss is plus size and she always looks good so I should be able to find something nice there too.

Day Seven.
This time last week I was in the operating theatre and this morning I felt as if I had just woken up from that surgery!  There was pain, tightness, and I couldn’t move my head properly.  I took two painkillers and movement has loosened things up but I think I overdid it yesterday.

My daughter took me shopping for plus size clothing at the warehouse outlet of a place called “ts 14+” and I spent two hours working up a sweat browsing the aisles and trying things on.

At one point my daughter got worried about me.  She said the wound had gotten red and was clearly more swollen than when we began and she wanted to know if I wanted to go home.  I said I am feeling fine and there is so much good stuff here I want to keep looking.

It was so good to be able to wander the aisles for more than a few minutes, without the painful breathlessness, that I didn’t feel like I was overdoing things.  I ended up with several new outfits but, by the time we got home, the ankle I broke almost three years ago had swollen up like a balloon and was giving me grief.  I put one of the surgical socks I saved from that time on and rested for the rest of the day.

Today, now that the painkillers have kicked in, I want to dress up in my new outfits and go do something to show them off lol.

It is early evening and my desire to dress up and go out faded as the hours went by and the pain returned.  I definately set my recovery back as my throat is really the worse for wear now.  Swallowing is still not a problem but the tightness that once was confined to the scar area itself now extends up the right side of my neck (it is the right lobe of my thyroid that was removed) to just under my ear.  That side of my neck also feels swollen now where it hasn’t before.

My daughter took photo’s but you can’t really see anything.  She had to go out so I will put them on my computer when she returns and upload them if they show anything worth looking at.

I must admit I feel worse today than I have felt all week.  I am not sure if it is the two hours I spent shopping and turning my head from side to side yesterday or if it has just taken a week for my neck and parathyroid glands to react to the surgery.

The doctors said it would take 10 days before I would be fit to return to work so I guess I will wait and see how I feel in another three days.

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