Six months ago today I had a partial Thyroidectomy. Translation: half of my thyroid and half of my metabolism was cut out. I had a large nodule on one side of my thyroid that had begun to produce extra thyroid hormone and made me hyperactive. The surgery was a great success. The nodule they removed was completely benign. It turns out, I had two nodules – a secret twin! For those confused by the reference, do yourself a favor and watch this 1-minute clip.
I just read through some of my highlights of the surgery that I wrote immediately after. Like I predicted, it made me laugh. (My sister always said I should be a comedist.) I’ll publish what I sent to my friends after the surgery. I’ll leave out some of the gory details. But here are some highlights:
- Dr. Daniel Roses is a thyroid surgical genius and I am eternally grateful for all of the thousands of patients before me that served as practice.
- That said, I happily accepted the slightly cocky bedside manner*** when I discovered that my scar will be half the expected size (2” instead of 4”) – thanks again Dr. Roses. For a further description of a slight incident that justified the ‘cocky,’ see below.
- A good anesthesiologist is worth her weight in gold if you successfully wake up AFTER the operation and not during it.
- Morphine shots in the stomach didn’t take me to the good place everyone told me about and they hurt like hell. Getting them also made me feel like the medic in Saving Private Ryan.
- I discovered this secret anti-nausea “patch” they gave me to put behind my ear. Not sure why it’s so secret, but every single person that I asked about it post-surgery acted like they had never seen such a thing before. Why such mystery about an anti-nausea patch? I immediately thought this was something to mass market. Think about it – too many Cosmos the night before, no worries – just stick the patch behind your ear and you’re good to go!
- Pajamas seemed to work better than the hospital gown for me. Apparently I was so warm after the surgery in post-op, that I kept kicking my blanket off and well, the gown doesn’t leave much for curiosity.
- Number of drugs pumped into my veins to “put me under”: 6.
- Number of additional drugs it would take to put me under for life: 1.
- Number of nurses that “cared” for me while I was in my own room: 3. Out of those, the one with the most seniority had been there for 5 months.
- Nurse Idiot # 1 botched up a blood test. I practically showed her how to do it and then stopped her before she collapsed my vein. She just kept using the two S-words: Shit and Sorry. Then she forgot the gauze. So I had to give her a napkin to clean up my spilling blood.
- Oh yeah, and then Nurse Idiot left her “bible” (translation: every patient’s medical chart in one handy binder) in my room. Lucky for me, my sister happened to enjoy reading about Mrs. Horowitz’ mastectomy. So much for HIPAA regulations.
- Pain medicine prescribed by the surgeon: Over the counter Extra Strength Tylenol.
- My private room in the hospital was larger than my Manhattan living room, complete with a wall of windows with a view of the East River, the UN and the Chrysler building. Thanks Andrew.
- Even in the midst of some scary pain, my sister manages to get me rolling with laughter during an impromptu hospital photo shoot staring “the drain.” Thank you Reena.
- Child labor was still worse.
***PS: I saved the “why I deemed Dr. Genius Thyroid Surgeon as having a cocky beside manner” story for the end since some of you might be bored by now. If you’re not – you can read on.
Well, lets imagine what your throat “wound” would feel like less than 24 hours after a major incision cutting through all sorts of of bloody stuff in your neck? Oh yeah, and for about 24 hours, there was also a drain coming out of the corner of the incision in my neck. The drain, neatly safety-pinned to my $3.50 Old Navy long sleeve t-shirt, pooled into a plastic container that was for some reason or another shaped like an army grenade. I wanted to rip it off and throw it across the room, my blood splattering across the floor. (Sorry for the Quentin Tarantino – like digression.)
Anyway, so in the morning Mr. Resident Clueless removed the drain. The drain removal could best be understood if you picture a fisherman yanking the fishing pole out of water when they get a bite.
So the drain is removed and my incision “taped.” This tape is probably some specialty government-designed tape that is stronger than any other tape known to man. I think they should market this as a hair removal solution for sure. Like better than the Epilady hair removal system. This was serious stickiness. A few hours later, when I was just getting adjusted to life without the bloody grenade, Dr. Genius Thyroid Surgeon comes in.
“My residents make me look bad,” he says as he comes, fingers toward my neck. I don’t have enough of a chance to tattle tale on Mr. Resident Clueless when Dr. Cocky goes on to (and ladies, you can truly appreciate this), in a wax-like motion, rip off the layers of tape that were so carefully holding my throat together. My throat and the HOLE from where the tube was coming out.
I was sure after he did the rip, I would see a steady fountain of blood shoot out from my neck, but alas Dr. Cocky looked around and grabbed whatever the hardest napkin he could find was. He used that to aggressively wipe up whatever mess he just created and then cut his own tape. This tape was half the size of the other one.
He stepped back, pleased with his work. “There!” he said, a smile crossing his face. “That’s much smaller.” He didn’t want anyone thinking the scar was that big.
“Perfect,” he uttered, satisfied with his work and he went on to usher his worshiping posse out of my room.