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Get It Out (Papillary Thyroid Cancer Thyroidectomy Surgery)

Get It Out (Papillary Thyroid Cancer Thyroidectomy Surgery)

Day 1: Surgery

You know the day that you have to wake up as dry as the Sahara desert with hunger pangs knawing at your tummy. You go back and forth with the realization that you are having a big surgery and your nerves will not let you be hungry or thirsty, although coffee would sure be nice to sooth the soul. I have only felt this feeling a handful of times, but oddly enough I felt my nerves were much less than they had been before prior surgeries.

I feel like my anxiety has been lessened because I have certain stories and images in my mind of those that are battling their own forms of cancer. They are my sources of inspiration and strength. First and foremost, I always think about my Aunt and how strong she has remained throughout her whole journey. That woman is the toughest of tough. She went into the operating room (for the very first time, I might add) without any type of sedative to calm her nerves. That right there says, “She eats nails for breakfast.”

I’m like “Umm, yes, give me all of the drugs and let me forget this ever happened.” That is when my anxiety would peak, once you reach the OR. That moment when they are putting the oxygen mask to your face, you know that one that is all yellowed and antique looking that knocks you out in no time and takes you far away. If I was not sedated in some form, I would be freaking the fuck out. Yikes.

Not my Aunt, she said that ” All of you people that want all of these sedatives are drug addicts.” Ha ha! That’s my Aunt for you, she calls it as she sees it and does not give two shits who hears it. No, this is not how I feel. Just quoting her words.

Then, I think of my newly acquired friend through this cancer journey. She is a true inspiration. She has been through hell and back, but you wouldn’t know it. She is a positive force that sends nothing but inspirational thoughts my way. She has been a true source of calm for me and what I am going through.

I also have a friend that has gone through the exact same cancer and has become my source of knowledge and comfort. She checks in on me, lets me know that all of my thoughts are totally normal and that I will be ok. I send her random texts just to see that what I am experiencing is normal. She is that source of calm and normalcy that has truly helped me get through this and reminds me that we all have our own experience and path to recovery.

All of these women have been guiding me toward my path, without judgement but filled with love. I am so thankful to have these three to walk with through this journey.

I cannot even begin to talk about all of the thoughtful people that are a part of my life that send me the most amazing love and encouragement in every way possible. I could not name them all, some come in forms of best friends, some are good friends, some old, some new, but I appreciate every one of their positive affirmations and love. It helps to get me through. It really does. These are also the people that are making this path much more walkable and less anxiety-ridden.

Okay, now,back to the day of.

Shannon and I got the kids ready for school, I gave them all a little more love and lots of kisses. I get extra weepy the night before thinking of my kids. I made sure to have something that would be a little trinket for them to hold onto if they were to worry or think about Mommy when they know I am in surgery. They are my kids and therefore they will probably worry. Monkey see. Monkey do.

kids, worry, keepsakes, memories

Keepsakes for my babies.

I looked through the various shells we had collected from our recent beach vacations and of course had to find two that were similar, so they couldn’t fight over the thought that I loved the other more (you know they would think it!) They also had to show the little tinge of purple that some clam shells have because the boys would search for those pieces just for Mommy. In a child’s world, everything must be your favorite color. Then I found the permanent paint and painted little red hearts on there for my babies. I wrote on the little baggies, ” I love you more.” Just a Mommy’s way of preparing her babies to not worry too much.

Grayson right away puts it in his book bag, he is a prepared little fella. Tristan didn’t pay much attention to it, acted like it was no big thing, but then the morning of he nervously twisted the shell around in the bag. So much so that he wore off the writing and asked that I write, ” I love you more” again. He likes to act like he isn’t phased, but Mommy knows. Both of my babies have some anxiety like their Momma.

We plopped down into Shannon, the hubby’s, Camaro and headed to the Surgery Center. Yup, you heard that right. They took out a major organ because of cancer in a 3-hour surgery in a Surgery Center. It feels so generic and non-intimate, but I was glad for the lack of hospital stay bills and less worry for my boys if Mommy comes home. We linked hands and didn’t say much, it’s the awkward drive where I want to remain strong and not worry and the realness of it hasn’t really set in yet.

The whole experience was very pleasant and I had some amazing nurses. However, I think I went through almost ten in the short time I was there. I guess that would be the lack of intimacy when compared to a hospital stay. It was odd, but they were running a well-oiled machine up in that joint.

I don’t think it all really kicked in and my anxiety seemed to take a hiatus until anesthesiology came in. For some reason, that’s what does it to me every time. Every birth experience and the time I had a hernia repair. It just freaks me out. It’s that damn paperwork that you wish you could sign prior to arriving in the hospital when you are about to be plopped down onto the operating table. You know, the one that reminds you that with anesthesia comes the risk of paralysis, stroke, etc, etc. Gets me every time. Yeah, sure I’ll just sign on the dotted line and hope that my anesthesiologist is well rested and well-practiced. Who am I kidding really, that is the chance we take with everyone in that operating room. It’s why everyone prays for all that are on your surgical team. We are all human.

In my experience, I feel like the anesthesiologists like to poke the bear a little bit. I don’t know if they didn’t take that class in social surgical etiquette or what? This has just been my experience. They are usually the goofy ones, sometimes just silly, sometimes in demeanor and sometimes in other ways. This time when he asked me about prior heart conditions and I mentioned that I had been born with a heart murmur, he asked me what I was doing about it. Ummm…that kind of stunned me, because I have been mentioning it all of my life and no one has ever acted like it was a big deal. It wasn’t even until my recent Rheumatologist visit that it had been pointed out to me as still being a concern. No one ever mentions it. I could reference all of my anesthesiologists and the goofy experiences I have had, but for one reference I will mention the one that gave me my epidural during Grayson’s delivery. He was telling me to sit up straight (during a contraction, I might add) and then he asked me if I have scoliosis. Right before he stuck me with a needle. Ummm…I don’t think so, but now before I birth my child, I am going to worry that I do. I’m pretty sure that would have been in my paperwork as a pre-existing condition, Sir.

So… once the anesthesiologist walked out of the room to allow me to look over and sign those retched papers, that is when the wheels started spinning and the nervous tears started flowing. My husband was right there to hold me and let me know that we would get through this. Something about that man always soothes me and makes me feel better. He has never failed to take care of me. No matter how much we drive each other crazy, we are always there for one another. Always.

We said our goodbyes and that is when Shannon said the realization hits him. When they wheel me away and he is brought out to the waiting room. He said that he is reminded of the times he had to leave me in the OR so that they could do my spinal tap for two of my c-sections. We won’t talk about that time we got into a fight before my hernia repair and he literally dropped me off at the door. So maybe there was that one time he wasn’t right there ( I can laugh about it now!) See, just goes to show that we are not perfect. Glad that we have a God that we can pray to and ask for forgiveness. We all need it from time to time.

I have to laugh because when they sedate me I go from being a nervous wreck to being cool as a cucumber. When they bring me into the operating room, they have to say things to me a few times because I am so happy in la-la land, I barely realize they are talking to me.

“Wait, move my legs? Can I still do that? Can’t you just carry me?” Not even sure if I just think those things or I actually say them out loud. I can’t imagine the things they hear out of peoples’ mouths.

Shannon ended up going to Roosters during my surgery and he said that it was so odd to sit there and watch the oblivious people beside him that were trying to get their fake ID back from the bartender. He’s like, ” Here this guy is (he may have used a different word) trying to get back a stupid fake ID, so he can drink underage and my wife is in the OR getting a major organ removed because it has cancer.” So surreal. I guess that is just how it is, the world continues to turn as we live our lives in happiness and unhappiness. Crazy. Sometimes hard to grasp.

Shannon said it seemed like forever. But then the doctor came and talked to him in a private room. Shannon said he could tell that he had been in surgery for a long time because you could see the white imprints on his face from the microscopic surgical glasses that surgeons use to perform their surgeries.

Shannon is relieved to hear that the surgery went really well and they were able to see and remove the cancer, along with three lymph nodes to see if it had spread at all. My ENT surgeon felt that the rest of my tissue looked very healthy and they felt good about the surgery.

Shannon had to wait a bit to come and see me because I do not have a good experience with anesthesia. I warned and warned them again, for some reason this is a big source of my anxiety with surgery. I hate waking up to miserableness, feeling like I need to puke all over the place. I am the biggest baby when it comes to nausea and vomiting. Poor Shannon managed to make it through all of my pregnancies with me, although I am not quite sure how.

All I can remember is having a fairly pleasant dream, which is funny because I tend to have disturbing or just plain exhausting dreams. When I heard the nurses talking to me I was so annoyed that they had woken me because I had a raging migraine ( I later found out it was the painkillers that caused that for me), I felt like I could vomit and I was feeling the pain in my neck. No thanks.

Once they finally got my stomach calmed down, got me to eat some kind of crunchy sweetness, drink and walk around. I was good to go. I still remember some of the nurses saying, “Wait?! She’s the one that just had her thyroid removed?! Wow!”

Thyroidectomy, Thyroid Cancer, Thyroid removal, thyroid nodule

After Harry the Thyroid went Bye Bye!

Once I start feeling better, there is no stopping me. Plus, the painkillers make me think I feel better. ha! That’s funny.

I even gave my nurse at the end, a business card for this blog. I wonder if she will read it?

Coming home, bumping along in the Camaro was nice. I felt like, “Heck yeah! I did it!”

I was actually very impressed with my incision. To think that they open it up all the way and poke around in there to look for cancer, yet he used the smallest incision I had seen for thyroid surgery. Impressive.

The best part was getting home right before the boys. Once they walked in they came right to me and wanted to see my incision while cautiously giving me hugs and worried looks. I told them Momma was okay. I could see the tension leave Grayson. My very rambunctious yet caring little men that they are.

I got through the procedure. No matter what we were going to get through this and all would be good. We would do it together. Like we always have.

Good riddance, Harry (my thyroid’s name, don’t ya know?)! You have been evicted.

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