…that was the amount of pain I felt on a scale of 1 – 10 after the thyroplasty surgery. I hardly think physical pain is a 10 no matter how bad the pain is, I always believe it could be worse. However, the pain I felt for the first 72 hours after my surgery was pretty much as bad as it could get.
We got to the hospital on the morning of the surgery and I was taken to the medical day care unit. I noticed how similar yet different the wards were to the ones in the UK. The word my husband used in describing the ward was ‘spartan’ and I couldn’t agree more. A nurse came to ask me a few questions and got me to put on one of those funny looking gowns. I had about 2 hours to spare before the surgery so my husband and I played a few games on the iPad to prevent me from focusing on the surgery ahead or on the fact that I was super hungry. I recall that all I talked about the previous evening was how hungry I was going to be before the surgery and then my husband uttered the words “I won’t have anything to eat as well until you are done with the surgery and able to take something”. Tell me that’s not the best man there is in the world!
At 12:00, an anaesthesiologist came to set up the line for the IV. She explained she was undergoing her residency training and that she was part of the team that would be performing the surgery. She was really hilarious and only poked me once – I loved her immediately. Next came the ‘chief’ anaesthesiologist who explained that I won’t be having the surgery under general anaesthetics, instead I would be sedated and local anaesthetics would be applied to the neck.
Half an hour later, it was time for the surgery. For my previous surgeries in the UK, I was usually put to sleep outside the operating room but this time around, I walked into the room. It reminded me of a scene from Grey’s Anatomy with the many people with face masks lining up the scissors and other sharp objects on the operating table. I was told to lie them and get into a ‘comfortable’ position. I was hooked up to an IV and I have to say that being sedated is a weird experience. I could hear conversations going on in the room but I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying. I felt the cut to my throat and I blinked at the anaesthesiologist who probably increased the juices to make me a bit more numb. I recall hearing something whirring like a drill or saw and I felt the pressure in my throat, guess the implant was being cut to fit. There were times in between that everything was blank but then I’d become aware of what was going on again. The surgeon would ask me to speak at intervals so it was a lot of “eeee” and counting from “1-10”. Towards the end of the procedure, they took out the oxygen tube from my nose and put a camera down the way they had done during my previous assessments. I heard one of the nurses in the room say “oh wow – that’s incredible”.
Next thing I knew, I was in the ICU and one of the nurses was checking my vitals and asking if I knew where I was – all I could do was nod. After I was stabilized, I was taken back to the medical day care unit where I started the day and my dear husband was waiting for me. He told me how ‘cool’ the waiting area was and he compared it to the airport. Apparently, they have screens displaying the status of all the operations in progress. You could just walk up to any screen, put in the initials of the patient and the name of the surgeon and voila! – all the information and updates on the on-going surgery is displayed in front of you. Not bad eh?
That was where the ‘fun’ bit ended. About an hour after the surgery, all the drugs and numbness wore off and I was in excruciating pain. It felt like my throat had been ripped apart. I called for a nurse and she brought some LIQUID Tylenol 3 and codeine – Yuck and Yuck! The problem was, swallowing was near impossible coupled with the fact that I have issues with taste generally, let’s just say I could not keep the medicine down. She suggested breaking tablets down into small pieces so that it’s not as painful to swallow. I managed to take those but it did NOTHING for the pain. I heard my husband telling her that if I say I’m in that much pain then it must be pretty bad as my threshold for pain is incredible. He suggested she got me something stronger. She came back with a drug called Percocet, I had to wait for four hours to take it but it still did nothing for the pain. By this time, I was in tears – I just could not understand how the pain was so bad and how they could do nothing to help. I missed the UK because I believe they are so much better at pain management. After every one of my surgeries in the UK, they usually gave me analgesics in form of IV and I could have as much and as often I wanted in the first few hours after the surgery.
The surgeon had mentioned I could leave the hospital that day if I was feeling okay so I told the nurse I wanted to go home that night. Staying at the hospital was doing nothing for the pain anyway and I just wanted to be in my bed that night. I was discharged at 10:30pm and DH wheeled me to the car in a wheelchair as I was all sorts of dizzy and weak. We got home and I took more pain meds and a sleeping pill to knock me out and numb me from the pain.
I didn’t feel much relief on Friday or Saturday or Sunday! I was frustrated with the situation and to make matters worse, I couldn’t even speak or play with my little one. I stayed in the room for most part as she cried every time she saw me and wanted me to pick her up or speak to her and I couldn’t. Hearing her cry broke my heart each time so I tried to minimize how often I saw her in the first couple of days 😦
It’s not all sad and gloomy, I woke up this morning and I told my husband “I feel like I’ve had a fever for the last few days and it finally broke”. I am not fully recovered but I am able to speak a bit now, I played with my little one for a couple of hours, I even danced with her – that to me is a sure sign of recovery!
I have my post-op appointment on Thursday and I’m back to work on the same day. I’m hoping I am feeling even stronger and my voice sounds less “Barry White-y” then.
Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada and I am grateful for life, my awesome husband, my beautiful daughter, I am grateful for our house, our jobs, friends, family, good health and the ability to keep smiling even when everything around me says otherwise.