How to Cope with a Total Thyroidectomy
Posted By: ethernum; Category: Health; November 3, 2008
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By the time you and your physician have made the decision to completely remove your thyroid, chances are you aren't feeling very well and you're ready to feel better again as soon as possible. Knowing what you can truly expect after having your thyroid removed will allow you to face what lies ahead with knowledge, power and a healthy attitude.
For the purposes of this article, we'll assume you already understand what to do to prepare for your thyroid surgery as you will have had your pre-surgical consult. If not, ask your doctor to explain step by step what you can expect prior to surgery.
Once you wake up in the recovery room, you'll have a small tube in your neck. Its there to drain the incision and truly isn't painful...although it's unpleasant to look at. You will likely have a sore throat and you will be given pain medication to help manage it.
Some patients are released the day of their surgery, while others stay in the hospital at least one night. That will depend upon your insurance, your surgeon and how you are doing.
When it's time for the surgeon to remove the tube from your throat, he will pull it out very quickly. This part can be painful, but it's over very quickly. The site will be covered with bandages and you'll be given instructions on how to care for it and when to come back to have the stitches removed.
You will be given calcium supplements to take for a time. Your physician will explain why. You will also be prescribed a thyroid hormone replacement medication and told how to correctly take it. It's important that you take your medications exactly as your physician tells you to in order for it to work correctly.
Once you're at home, you'll want to use comfortable pillows to help prop you up in bed while you recover as that may make it easier to cough up mucus, etc, that may feel caught in your throat. Your voice may come and go for some time and will sound raspy. Try to rest your throat because the more you talk, it seems the more sore it becomes and the quieter it gets.
It's hard to fully understand how much your thyroid does for your body until you no longer have it. You are going to feel very tired and may have aches and pains that hardly seem as though they could be related. For example, after my TT (total thyroidectomy) my arms hurt terribly for quite sometime.
Stay home from work for as long as you can afford to do so. Resist the urge to listen to people who tell you they know somebody, who knows somebody, whose Aunt had a TT and was back at work 2 days later and just fine.
Rest, rest, rest and eat soft foods like soups, mashed potatoes, pudding, etc. If you feel light-headed, ask someone to help you up as you need it.
It may take up to six months before you begin to feel really good again. It's my opinion that knowing that fact up front will prevent you from feeling like a failure when you aren't ready to climb a mountain in a month. Your thyroid medication dosage will be adjusted during this period and while you and your physician are determining what your personal best dosage is, you may temporarily gain weight and feel exceptionally tired. Know that this will go away in time and you will feel better than ever at the end of this journey.
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