One year ago today I had my thyroidectomy surgery performed at The University of Michigan Hospital by Dr. Barbra S. Miller. It's so hard to believe it's been that long.
I wanted to write a post tonight to talk about the past year-long journey. And what a journey it has been. My hope is that those who are contemplating surgery as a treatment option will have a real-life patient story to learn from.
First off, I'm excited to report I'm feeling great. In fact, I'm feeling fantastic. My thyroid labs are all within the normal range, and they have been for some time now. My Synthroid dose was adjusted shortly after surgery, and then tweaked once more. I felt reasonably good within weeks after surgery. And then not long after, I felt like the old Linda returned, but this time like never before. I have a sense of well being and happiness that eluded me for the past 7-8 years. It's hard to describe, really. Those of you dealing with autoimmune thyroid disease will know what I'm talking about; I always felt like I lost my old self along the way somehow. When you're sick, you just don't feel like yourself....
Second, I'm pleased to say my scar is healing nicely. Here is a photo taken this evening, December 19, 2013.
Yes, you can see my scar, but it is considerably lighter than it was earlier this year. I continue to use scar cream to help keep it moist, and to aid in the scar's healing. Frankly, I don't mind looking at it every day when I wake up. I earned it!
Third, hindsight really is 20/20 vision. If I had it to do over again, I would have had the surgery much sooner. I placed a lot of faith in my anti-thyroid drug treatment (switching between Methimazole and PTU through the years) and really hoped I'd achieve remission. But when I did, it was short-lived. I guess after seven years of trying, it finally occurred to me, with the help of a 2nd opinion, remission wasn't likely in my future. I had reached a rock-bottom point in my journey when I finally decided, enough was enough. It was one of the lowest points of my life. That's when I decided surgery was my best choice.
It was with high expectations and a good case of nerves that I was wheeled into the operating room exactly one year ago today. I remember the day vividly. I remember Dr. Miller coming into the pre-op areas telling me "we're running ahead of schedule, and we're ready for you." Off I went! I whizzed down the hallway, past one operating room after another. The surgery went quickly, and before I knew it I was in recovery, waking up, and woozy. I went home the very next day.
One of the most popular questions I get asked is "how is your voice?" For the first few days I had to whisper. For the next 4-5 weeks it was steadily returning but not at full strength. Shortly after that, it was back to normal. Today, you'd never know I ever had surgery. There are no lingering effects with regard to voice quality/volume. I'm very grateful to my capable surgery, Dr. Miller, for that.
All told, I'm happy to report I'm doing very well. No regrets, and feeling better than ever.
I'd like to thank my very capable surgeon, Dr. Barbra S. Miller, MD from the University of Michigan Medical Center. I'm very grateful she was my surgeon. She answered all of my questions during my pre-surgery meeting, did a great job with the surgery itself, and provided excellent post-surgery follow-up advice.
Surgery may not be the best choice for you. It goes without saying you should discuss all of your options with your doctor(s). In my case, it was a great choice. I'd do it all over again just to feel as well as I do today.
In closing, as I look back on some of those awful days I spent dealing with the side effects of Graves' Disease, it's so hard to believe I'm the same person, just at a different phase of treatment. If I can offer advice to those who've managed to read this far, I'd like you to know 1) you're not alone, and 2) you can get better; life back to normal is possible. I'm living proof.