Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Breaking the News to the Kids

My husband and I went out to eat with our 3 children last night and at the end of the meal, we broke the news that I would be having surgery next week. Our oldest said nothing. Our middle child asked what exactly was being taken out - we told her a nodule and that we wouldn't know more until after the surgery and that is why it has to be taken out - so the doctors could examine whatever it is more thoroughly - she next asked if what I had was contagious and I said no. Our youngest just started crying. She said she doesn't want me to have the surgery and I told her it had to be done. Finally, by the time she went to bed she seemed to resign herself to this fact and said she wanted to come visit me in the hospital. I told her if I have a short stay, that won't be necessary but if I stay 2 nights she can come visit. Although this was not pleasant news to give, I'm glad it's out there and hope the next week and a couple days go quickly. With all I need to get done by then - I think they will.


Glenda said...

My daughter, who was 7 at the time, really didn't seem to have any interest--one way or the other--about the surgery I was going to have. She was very excited because on Saturday (my surgery was on a Friday) she was going to a birthday party for friends of hers that are twins and she was going to get to spend the night at their house! So she was quite excited about that. The night before, I took her to her grandma's house to spend the night. She looked at me and said "Mom, do you really have to have surgery?" To this day I don't know how I didn't burst out in tears but I told her "yes, I really need to." I told her that I would call her on Friday night if I was able to talk.

Glenda said...

I was able to talk on Friday night and called and left a message for her at her dad's that I was doing well. I ended up spending 2 nights in the hospital although I was only supposed to be there for 1. More later.

Glenda said...

Prior to my surgery I talked to a nurse that I know. She told me that patients that had similar surgeries reported that it was "not too uncomfortable." I found that to be an accurate description.

A tip: Have a loose fitting around-the-collar shirt to wear home from the hospital. I wore an extra large t-shirt but I would suggest a comfortable button up or a scoop neck. A button up would be better because there is a tube left in your throat connected to a plastic bottle for drainage that is kind of awkward to handle over pull on tops.

That is one thing that NO ONE mentioned to me until just minutes before I was wheeled into the operating room was that there would be a tube in my throat for drainage!! I remember thinking that if they had told me this before that I might not have had the surgery because I didn't want a tube in my throat. They told me that it would be a small tube, but the thought of it bothered me, and that no one had mentioned it bothered me.

It turned out to be a very small, thin, almost stringlike tube that was incredibly long that flowed into a small plastic container that was pinned to my hospital gown by my chest. The fluid that drained looked like watery blood. Actually, it's good that this drains out of your body instead of into your stomach but it took me by surprise. Maybe it's a good thing that I didn't know or I might have obsessed about it before. It's a weird feeling when they remove it. Doesn't hurt; there's just an odd pressure when it's pulled out. My surgery was on Friday and I went to the Doctor's office on Wednesday to have the tube and the stitches removed. When I picked my daughter up from Rec Camp on Tuesday after my surgery, she saw the tube and the bottle and proclaimed "That's GROSS!" I did have it hidden so it wouldn't be visible to everyone but of course she had to see it right away.

After the surgery, and when the tube is in, there's a lot of surgi strips, cotton, gauze and tape on your throat. NO, your incision won't be anywhere near as big as the covering for it!! But there's so much of it that it's kind of difficult to turn your head too far in either direction. My throat got really warm and sweaty under all that, but it was early August and hot out.

Elle said...

Glenda - I had heard about the tube but wasn't sure how long I would have it. I will definitely watch what top I take along to wear home - sounds bearable - this really helps!!!

Glenda said...

Elle, I hope you're doing well today and getting a lot accomplished.

The tube in my throat was actually stitched in so it came out when the stitches did 5 days after surgery. I didn't know it was stitched in until they took the stitches out. Like I said, it was very well covered. It was just a very odd sensation when they took the tube out--like it was REALLY in there a long way!

Like I said, the thought of the tube (not the tube itself) bothered me. The only thing I can figure out is because I thought I was as prepared as I could be (other than talking to someone who had it) and I didn't know I was going to have it. The MD, the Endocronologist, and the plastic surgeon that performed the surgery were all great and explained what was going on, what was going to happen, possible complications, etc., etc., but NO ONE mentioned it! Oh well, if that is my chief complaint about the whole thing then it can't be that baaaaddd!!!

I'm glad you knew about it.

Glenda said...

OK, on to the hospital stay saga.

The surgery was a "short stay" surgery in the one-day area of the hospital. This was confusing because they all told me at the sI would be staying overnight one night and going home the next day. The short stay area is for just that--you go in one day, have surgery, and go home the same day. NOPE, mine was considered short stay but I was going to be staying overnight, so they were going to take me straight from the operating room, to the recovery room, to a regular hospital room and not back to the short stay area. Everyone, including me, knew that I was going to be spending the night though.

Surgery was scheuled for 9:15 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4. I had to be there about 7 and got an IV started and all that other good prep stuff. They also had to give me a nuclear injection that makes the "bad" areas of the parathyroids (and maybe the thyroid too) turn purple so the Dr. could see where the problem areas were. We have 4 parathyroids and although there are supposed to be 2 on each side of the thyroid sometimes they are located elsewhere, even down into the breastbone so a cardiologist had to stand by. They are very small, about the size of a grain of rice, so somtimes they are difficult to find. Although they test them for cancer and abnormalities in the operating room, these test results are not always accurate. A longer test, which takes a few days, is done and the results of it ARE accurate.
SOOO, they may have left a bad one in you and have to go back in again based upon THOSE results and remove it. Also, you may need 1 parathyroid, or 2, or 3, or maybe even all 4 removed and there's no way to know for sure until the results are final, a few days AFTER the surgery.

Now I'm the kind of person that if it wasn't for bad luck I would have no luck at all! I've almost always had some sort of complication or problem from about any illness, surgery, and the pregnancy so I thought that may end up being me. I didn't want to have it once; let alone twice!!

Glenda said...

I didn't go into the operating room until sometime after 10-10:30 a.m. because the one before me ran long. I had been pre-warned that this surgeon always starts surgeries later than he planned and they always take longer than he said they were going to take so not to be surprised by either.

I remember the operating room was extremely C O L D and that was a good thing so that the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, and other people didn't get too warm while doing the operation. I also remember being told to count backwards and I only counted down 1 or 2 numbers....

Glenda said...

I don't recall what time I "woke" up, but it was mid-afternoon and I was in the regular hospital room. I don't recall being in the recovery room. The inside of my throat was dry and scratchy, and I was thirsty, but I was surprised that I wasn't in excruciating pain. I wasn't in pain at all--just felt like I'd been wrung through a wringer. The dressing on my throat felt heavy and awkward. My nose was sore because I had oxygen with those two little plugs things that go into your nose and dry it out. My voice sounded just fine.

The nurse told me everything went well, and my vitals were good, and asked on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the lowest what my pain level was. I said no pain. She told me I had to give her a number, so I told her 1. I had been warned prior to the surgery, and she also told me, to take pain meds prior to the pain getting bad because it's easier to avoid it than to try to get rid of it once you get it.

I got some ice water to drink and help my dry mouth and dozed off and on. At dinner time, they brought me a dinner tray. I asked if I could eat it? (I didn't want it and wasn't up to eating, but was just curious.) Finally they got a hold of the Dr. that told me I could have a liquid diet and that I shouldn't have gotten a tray.

I understood why I needed to stay in the hospital "for observation" overnight because like I said, I felt like I had been wrung through a wringer. The Doctors had told me that I needed to have this surgery because I "was so young" and that it's more commonly done in older people. (I don't hear much anymore that I'm so young so I especially enjoyed hearing that!)

Of course I had to have assistance to get up and go to the bathroom, not only because I was so wobbly but because of the oxygen, the IV, and the things hooked up to my legs to prevent blood clots.

The plastic surgeon came in the evening and told me that everything went well and it appeared only the parathyroid with the nodule on it was bad. It was the size of a kidney bean. They cut off 30% of my thyroid but the rest was good. People have lost up to 50% of their thyroid and it has still functioned properly. They would just need to do some blood tests to make sure it and my other parathryroids were working properly. (I still have calcium tests done about every 3-4 months.) This was all good because I was thinking that if they wanted to do this to me again there was NO WAY it was ever going to happen!!

Glenda said...

Because my 1 parathyroid had been busily pulling calcium out of my bones and into my blood, the other 3 were dormant. As soon as the bad one was removed, my blood went from having an overabundance of calium in it to NONE! Now there was NO calcium, and it was going to take a while for the others to start working.

Having no or low calcium can cause really bad leg cramps, which I got. It can cause numbness in your extremeties, like hands and feet, which I got. So the things that were causing me the distress are things that you might not have to go through hopefully!

About 10 p.m., I was getting hungry after only having water and juice. I had some chicken noodle soup and crackers. I had a hard time sleeping during the night and started to get a migraine headache. I get those sometimes--from not eating, from not having caffiene, and who knows why.

So now when I was telling them my pain level was a 2--it was because of the leg cramps and the headache, not the surgery!

Nikki said...


I feel like I am getting to know you as well. I am glad that you found Elle's Blog and are willing to share your experience. Lack of Knowledge is half the battle.