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Hi guys,

My mom was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer January of this year. She underwent complete thyroidectomy on April 12. We all thought it went well though she had a very hoarse voice. After a few hours her neck had a large mass that made it difficult for her to breath. It turned out it was a hematoma so she was rushed back to the OR to be operated again. After her second surgery, she can no longer speak above a whisper and had difficulty breathing. The doctors said she's having an asthma attack so they prescribed her with steroid (Cortisone?) shots and a round the clock use of the nebulizer. It made her feel a little better but she's still gets out of breath most of the time. She was discharged after 5 or 6 days in the hospital with Vit B, Calcium and Prednisone (to be taken for a few days).

Also, the biopsy result confirmed cancer but the tumor was only 1.1 cm so RAI was not suggested. She was just prescribed Eltroxin (100mg) as maintenance.

After about a week (she stopped taking Prednisone at this time), she had a high fever (39 C+) and chills. Also, her breathing became labored again and she keeps on coughing/choking. She cannot lie on her back so she's always sitting up and cannot sleep. She's also having shoulder, back and chest pains. We visited a pulmonologist to sort out her coughing issues. She ordered an xray and the result suggested both pneumonia and TB. So she was put on antibiotics and anti-TB drugs. Her Endo also prescribed several other medicines including Prednisone again.

We also visited an ENT to look at her vocal folds at the suggestion of her Endo. The ENT suspected that she has Bilateral Vocal Cord Paralysis (BVCP) when he inspected her throat. A rigid laryngoscopy also revealed that it was indeed BVCP. The doctor suggested arytenoidectomy to be performed to improve her breathing but told us that it would permanently damage her voice. He also said that my mom's condition would eventually worsen and the vocal folds would completely close and at that point she would no longer be able to breath but we could notice that her voice would improve.

However, her surgeon advised against it and said that we should wait for a few months to see if her condition would improve. Since her breathing got quite better probably because of the cough medicines and steroids we decided to wait it out.

Now about a month and a week after her surgery her voice suddenly improved. Though it is still very hoarse, it is definitely above a whisper. She can now talk to people over the phone and they can hear her. But the only downside is her breathing. She's having problems sleeping and breathing again. I am now worried that the ENT is right about her folds closing completely since her voice improved but her breathing worsened. Has anybody else experienced this when their voice started to come back? Do you think it will improve over time?

Thanks for reading and I would appreciate any response.

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Hello there -- I hope your mom is doing better.  I had a total Thryoidectomy on May 30th and I too had difficulty breathing.  They were giving me lung treatments while in the hospital.  At one point I considered asking them to put me on a breathing machine since I felt I could not breath on my own.  I was in the hospital for 4.5 days and I have been home 5 days.  My breathing is not any easier -- but I have found that showers and laying in a particular position on my side with 2 fluffed up pillows under my head works...for a time.  They also have me using a breathing appratus where you suck in air SLOWLY to expand your lungs -- that helps me as well.

I also have no voice and I choke when swallowing my own saliva or any liquids.  I have to focus immensely and lean forward when standing up to drink anything and even then I sometimes choke.  But I force myself to drink water since I know I need it to live.  I am glad to see I am not alone in this, but it is frustrating for all of us to deal with this.  I was told there was a chance of limited vocal ability a few weeks after surgery -- but nothing like what i am reading now.  I also did not expect the breathing issues to be so bad.  I feel like something is choking me at all times.  

Sorry I do not have any suggestions for your mom to feel better.  But I wanted to post something to a current patient that is trying to figure it all out.  Good luck and I hope you mom feels better soon. 

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Yes i was diagnose with thyroid cancer 3 years ago they remove papillary cancer on the right side,now im starting to have difficulty to breath 10 times a day.this is busy to stress everyone out.My docter sejected to cut and tye the vocal cord that's parralised to make breathing better,but i will lose my voice completely.My docter think that my condition will worsen in time as it worsen the past months.

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How is your mom doing now? I certainly hope she is better. I am 11 weeks post TT and modified right neck dissection for papillary thyroid cancer and also am having trouble with shortness of breath and a constant feeling of being choked. My voice is fine. This is making my life miserable.

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