I finally had my parathyroidectomy on Thursday. I am returned to you now shy not one, not two, but three parathyroid glands. My surgery was longer and more complicated than expected, with the first two “suspicious” parathyroid glands removed in the first hour and a half. My surgeon had closed me up and been ready to send me to recovery when my lab work came back to say that my PTH levels hadn’t dropped, meaning there was another bad gland.
And it was hiding.
My surgeon had to do a full exploration, going down as far as my thymus to look for the gland. My adenoma was actually residing within the right side of my thyroid, and so I had to have that removed as well. My surgeon said that when this is the case, the adenomas usually pop out easily, but not mine. It had burrowed nice and deep. As soon as the half of my thyroid was removed, my PTH levels plummeted.
I was in surgery for five and a half hours total and ended up having to spend the night in the hospital. My time in recovery was the worst of it. I literally felt as though someone had slammed me into a cement wall again and again and again. I was expecting the neck pain and the shoulder pain. I’d prepared for that. I had not prepared for the bruising through my chest from the exploration. It was like I had severe whiplash and bronchitis rolled into one. AND they must have had my right heel up against something during the surgery because it was very red after surgery, very sore, and on the surface is still numb to the touch three days later.
Anyway, the good news is that the problem should be fixed. I have to take calcium supplements for a while—possibly for months—to make up for all of the calcium my bones have lost in the (likely) years that I’ve had this. My body also has to adjust to working off of a normal calcium level. While my levels were normal leaving the hospital, my surgeon explained that my body has gotten used to functioning off of levels a good two points above where I’m at now. So it’s all going to be an adjustment. I also have to be careful that my bones don’t suck up so much calcium that I go into hypocalcemia, thus the supplements. (And ice cream. Lots of ice cream.)
I’m doing okay today, although feeling a bit foggy. The stiffness is still present in my neck and shoulders, but my chest is finally starting to ease up a bit. I can breathe without feeling like some fat kid is sitting on my chest. I’m also sleeping at night. Like, actually sleeping. As in falling asleep within a reasonable amount of time of lying down and then staying asleep until morning. It’s pretty amazing, and I can’t wait to see what else changes over the next few weeks and months.
The mental/emotional aspect is what I’m having the most difficult with at the moment. I won’t look at myself in the mirror because it terrifies me to see the mark on my neck. And when my mum was explaining to my aunts on the phone how the procedure went, I had to block my ears and walk away because it made me nauseous. Wasn’t really expecting that so I’m not sure how to deal with it.
Follow-ups in a month with the surgeon and endocrinologist. My surgeon said he hopes my concentration issues clear up by then and I can present him with the next great American novel. Harhar.
(P.S. This is apparently my 100th published post. It’s a pretty good one to be #100.)