My hope today is to give someone a bit of relief from the worry you may be experiencing post thyroid surgery. Let me start by saying I'm not a doctor and this is my personal experience, which may or may not be the same as yours. Any doctors that read this however, please feel free to enlighten, add on or debunk. My background is that I'm a 42 year old male, good shape, partial thyroidectomy of the left lobe, isthmus, and left parathyroid glands. I had a 2cm. tumor suspicious for follicular neoplasm, turned out benign!
One thing I have learned over the years is that the body is truly a fascinating, complex clockwork. I read a lot about the human body solely based on the this premise. It's amazing the things it can do, and the things it can do without. Examples such as how our livers regenerate, and certain organs that we potentially don't need, such as the appendix, gall bladder, a second kidney, and of course, the entire thyroid. Your body has this wonderful way of compensating. However, you need to respect it and work with your body as well. Eating well, drinking a healthy amount of water, and exercise are all imperative in having a successful recovery from surgery, and also to maintain health.
I'm post surgery exactly 3 weeks today. Again, I'm not a doctor and these are my theories that I hope are helpful. I do not take any calcium or thyroid management pills, and to this point do not need them and feel pretty good. My doctor was Richard Prinz out of NorthShore Hospitals in Chicago. Dr. Prinz is renown as one of the best in the country with over 35 years of experience in this particular field, with thousands of this type of procedure under his belt. Most of his career was out of Rush Medical in downtown Chicago and he is now Vice Chairman of Surgery at NorthShore. He's more than qualified.
Lets get this out of the way first. I've been reading a lot regarding the lump in the front of the throat that people are feeling. Rest assure, this gets better. Your body has just been put through a lot and scar tissue will form at a site where a wound was created and cauterized essentially. I have this. It feels like a marble, is hard, and I do feel it when I swallow. Not to worry, this will subside and mine is starting to now. It takes time to heal and rest, and massaging the area does help. Don't fret about there being another tumor or something. You're going to cause unnecessary stress on yourself over thinking this. Really, any reputable surgeon will see something suspect while performing your procedure. It's simply swelling so relax. Stress is your worst enemy!
Now on to what people have seemingly really been worrying about. These things are headache, chest tightness, and stiff neck. Yes! I had this. Yes, it's unnerving. No, it is not permanent. Here's why I believe this...
My surgery was a partial, so my time on the table was approximately 2.5-3 hours. With this type of procedure, not only is there a breathing tube, but the position your head and neck are placed in for this time is quite precarious. Your body is experiencing something traumatic. Positions you otherwise wouldn't be put into, especially for a lengthy amount of time, are occurring. I had a headache OFTEN! My neck was sore, and I was experiencing tightness and mild pain in my chest radiating as far as my upper gastro intestinal tract. I was popping Tylenol like pez, finding only a little and very temporary relief. After reading and researching, quite frankly, did not find a lot on the topic and was starting to stress out a bit. Again, stress=bad things. Stress adds tension to your body, muscle groups, personal psyche, and can cause tension which in turn can disrupt everyday life with headaches, general malaise, and the overall feeling of "just not feeling well".
First things first. Take a deep breath and relax. Know that this too shall pass, but don't stress out, it will only take your body longer to heal and adjust. I found a single site out there I felt was reputable that mentioned headache, fatigue, and chest pain. The other ones I didn't hold much merit in. The website was from Mass General in Boston, known for being a reputable place for thyroid treatment. Once I read that this was something that could happen, I relaxed.
Here's what I did to help Myself. Again, my hope is that someone finds relief from this.
Relax, although maybe not as common, chest tightness can happen. Think back to what I said about the position you're laying in for a long time. Add on to this stress of the situation you're in. Not far fetched that a skeletal/muscular incidence can occur at all! Your central nervous system is the highway of your body. Pinched nerves, inflammation of muscle, stress, can cause things like headache, back ache, neck pain, fatigue, and yes, chest pain.
After you come to grips with the fact that you're not dying, and reduce your stress level, try a few simple things. These worked for me.
Tylenol as needed does help. Eat healthy food, a lot of fruit, vegetables, and stay hydrated! For me, a big part was my neck and spine were misaligned from the stress of the fact I may have something suspect going on, and from the positioning for the actual procedure. Do not try and crack your own back or neck. See someone and get an adjustment. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of chiropractors, but do think there's some merit to this. I was lucky. Prior to making an appointment, while at work, my neck literally snapped. I heard it! It was loud and I felt this strange feeling of decompression! Unreal! I felt better, but not 100%. For the next day, I continued with Tylenol as directed and used a heating pad, both around my shoulder/upper back area, and on my chest. I also continued my workouts, but at a slightly lesser aggressiveness. Low and behold, I woke up this morning, went to go take my morning Tylenol, and realized....no pain. I mean nothing! My theory that this was skeletal/muscular due to stress, both psychologically and from the actual procedure, were accurate. At least for me. Stress and tension, again can cause headaches, neck aches and back aches and fatigue. My back aches radiated to my chest, which is NOT uncommon! I couldn't even take a deep breath before 2 days ago and now feel 99%! Try these things! Hopefully, they work for you. Give your body time to heal and lose the stress, this is not permanent, and you will get through! As for the fatigue, it is better. It can take months to get back from this type of procedure. Eating healthy, exercise, water, and I take a multi-vitamin, have all helped me with this.
I hope these simple methods actually hold merit to them. Take control of your stress and let the feeling better begin! All my best with your recovery! I truly hope I have given a ray of light to at least one person!