The Big C, Part 3: Pathology

As I type this, it’s one week since my thyroidectomy, so here’s the recap.

Tuesday, November 16th – I dined on Jel-lo and hot tea (no milk or cream) that morning, and Tim drove me to the hospital at 10:45 a.m. They checked me in and hooked me up to the IV (for me, that’s the absolute worst part), and then I waited. Fortunately, Tim was able to wait with me until it was time to go back to the O.R. I remember waking up in the post-op chamber (my impression is a large room with many people waking up), and then going right back to sleep. I felt so tired, and I had no incentive to wake up quickly. After my wrist surgeries, I knew that the sooner I woke up, the sooner I could get the IV out, but this time, I was being admitted. Eventually, I was rolled up to my room, where Tim was waiting for me. It was late afternoon; that evening is still kind of fuzzy. I could talk fine and Tim said I didn’t sound any different. Oh, and now I had two IVs – one in each hand. Great. I got to eat some gelatin and broth for dinner. I barely got any sleep that night, because it seemed like every hour someone was taking blood or giving me medicine. My calcium dipped extremely low overnight, so I got a dose of liquid calcium through one of the IVs.

Wednesday – I had my first dose of Synthroid, followed half an hour later by another liquid breakfast. Followed a couple of hours later by calcium tablets, pain pills, and I don’t know what all else. Because of the dangerous calcium dip, I would have to spend another night in the hospital. I talked to my mom a couple of times and Tim visited most of the day and fetched things for me. The most frustrating thing was, I was there to have my calcium monitored, and no one came for the 4pm test. Tim was still there and finally got someone in to draw blood at 6pm. I dozed a bit after he left. At 11pm, a consulting endocrinologist dropped by for a visit and said to give his office a call if I wanted to see him about my furthering treatment (more on that later). At about ten to midnight, I called the nurse’s station and reminded them that someone needed to take my every-six-hours blood test. Me, asking for a needle prick!! I called again at 1am. At 2am, I dozed off. The nurse came in a couple of times in the night, and each time I said, “No one’s come to draw blood.” At about 5:30am, I heard the nurse standing outside my door on the phone with my surgeon, and from one end of the conversation, it sounded like he was furious. Finally, though, someone came and drew blood at about 6am. Then 20 minutes later, another phlebotomist came in, and I was like, someone got it, and she said, “I have a stat order from the doctor,” and fortunately the nurse or someone was there to help explain. And fortunately, my calcium levels were slightly higher than the night before, so that I didn’t need an infusion.

File:View of the Rock of Gibraltar from the Strait.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The Rock of Gibraltar (rob Stoeltje/Wikimedia Commons)

I was released to come home on Thursday. Tim continued to fetch and carry as needed. He really has been terrific through all this. I was able to taper off the pain medicine by Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t soon enough to stave off an apparently common problem. I hadn’t been #2 since the surgery, and on Sunday, I felt like I needed to go, but alas, I was severely blocked. I tried to avoid taking a dose of laxative, but finally gave in. Too little, too late, I guess. Very little was coming out and hardly any of it on it’s volition. Tim was worried that my efforts to relieve myself was going to burst my incision, so off to the E.R. it was. The doc there prescribed two different laxatives. In a way, I guess it was good that one prescription was transmitted incorrectly and wasn’t ready, because the one did the trick, in that it caused me to have spasms that I can only imagine to be like contractions. I do believe I passed the Rock of Gibraltar, followed by several mudslides. Tim had suggested a laxative earlier in the week, but I didn’t want to deal with diarrhea. Well, I had to, anyway, along with all the other issues associated with the condition. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, November 23rd, we had the follow-up with the surgeon. He said that the pathology report was as good as we could expect. They found one tumor in the thyroid. I understood him to say that there were a few scattered cancer cells “in the margins” of what they took out, and he said the endocrinologist would discuss whether additional treatment options (via a radioactive pill) would be needed. When I actually read the report, I didn’t get the impression there were cells in the margins, but it said that Lymphovascular Invasion was present. Of course, I went to the interwebs, and that’s not good. I have an appointment next week with the endocrinologist to discuss the situation and will hopefully gain a better understanding of what’s happening and what’s next.

To be continued….

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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