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surgery complications

mrb20
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2013

Hello, this is my first post.  I am a 33yo female and I am one week post total thyroidectomy.  While my ultrasound and biopsy showed the papillary tumor to be quite small, and my surgeon told my family that the surgery went perfectly, I experienced nothing but complications once I woke up.  At first I had significant breathing issues, almost prompting a tracheotomy.  Once that was under control, it was still clear that I had severe vocal paralysis, as I could not get any sound out.  The following day I started experiencing some symptoms of hypocalcemia, tingling in my hands and face.  It turned out my calcium was low, and I began getting tums and IV calcium regularly.  On top of these things, both of which my dr claimed to be very rare, I had a severe allergic reaction to the steristrip and my entire neck and upper chest area has a horrible rash.  I was discharged after 4 days, but am still taking a large dose of calcium daily on top of my synthroid (which worries me a little), and my voice is still nonexistent.  Worse than the voice part is the fact that I cannot swallow liquids very well and am often choking.  I now realize how easy it is to take for granted chugging a glass of water!

Can anyone speak to either the vocal chord paralysis/swallowing issue, or the calcium problem and give me some insight on what to expect in the coming weeks and months?

Thank you!

amorriso
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2010

Hi I had my thryroidectomy almost  3 years ago - and had some similar problems to you.  I woke up in intensive care unable to swallow - scary...breathing was ok though.  My voice was a whisper but I could use it though it was hard.  I discovered I was allergic to the morphine they gave me for pain - I felt awful for a few days till I figured it out.  And I too am allergic to the adhesive on the bandages - nothiing worse than an ichy incision site!  Even my IV site iched! Have they taken off the steristrips?  they took my off early and just used a waterproof spray  to protect it. 

Anyway - it took a few days to swallow anything - some one suggested trying thicker liquids like milkshakes and cream soups - water is thin and can be hard to swallow - ok - sounded strange but it did work.  I had to spit a lot - just too hard to swallow saliva.  I slept very elevated - almos sitting up.  Solids took almost a week - and I was very careful for about 2 after that - just very afraid of choking.  My gag reflex wasnt normal so I did choke a few times it was NOT a pleasent experience. I tried to make sure I only ate when I had people around me... All is ok now.  I often wonder if it was a strange reaction to the general anesthesia.  I know of two other people with swallowing/breathing issues after surgery - neither had thryoids out either!

I had to take calcium - quite a high dose at first but now its ok -- I found if I took it every few hours  I didnt have any of the  tingling.  Gradually as I started to eat again I was able to reduce the amount - I try to include calcium foods (wait for a few hours after the synthroid though) and now just take one tablet at night. 

My voice took a few months to return to normal and there are days(especially first thing in the morning) when it sounds a bit rough.  I think others have suggested seeing a speech pathologists to help get it back - you may want to look into that if it doesnt start returning. 

So overall your next few weeks will be a bit challenging. I spent a lot  of time on this forum during my recovery.  But you will gradually return to normal.  I'm almost 3 years post and doing fine...

 

All the best

 

Missy757525
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2013

 

I had the exact symptoms- but my doctor accidentally removed one of my parathyriods and she said she may have damaged my other 3. It has been three weeks now and I still have trouble with my voice and swallowing. So, I now what u are going through.

 

Herstory11
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2013

I have had thyroid cancer for 14 years. My first thyroidectomy damaged one vocal cord, frozen in the "open" position so I can still speak, but my voice has changed. After my second "completion" thyroidectomy, 11 years later, I lost my voice again.  I went to speech therapy and got it back to where it was after the first surgery. Your doc can write a prescription for speech therapy.  I still take extra calcium and occasionally "choke" on nothing. I eat smaller bites of food and have to drink water with each bite. You get used to it.

Lorraine

galinbakersfield
Posts: 23
Joined: Apr 2013

I had similar problems. The speach, I couldn't really use my voice for several weeks. To this day (5 yrs later) it's not the same. 

As for the calcium, I was released because my Dr said I was doing good. The morning after being released I was rushed back to the hospital via ambulance for Calcium tetany. It was so scary, especially for myself, my husband and us having a 5 months old little girl. I was then on IV calcium, potassium and mag for a 7 days. After that it took me a few weeks to be able to walk without a cane, and I was on calcium, a prescription medication, and Vitamin D for almost 2 years. And I was in the ER about once a week for a IV infusion of potassium and calcium. It was horrible. I fell in that 1% area and it stunk. It does get better. I haven't taken Calcium for almost 2 years, except when I get really sick or the stomach flue bc I am right on border line of normal. I can tell when it's even border line and I pop a calcium and it helps. Best of luck. 

galinbakersfield
Posts: 23
Joined: Apr 2013

I had similar problems. The speach, I couldn't really use my voice for several weeks. To this day (5 yrs later) it's not the same. 

As for the calcium, I was released because my Dr said I was doing good. The morning after being released I was rushed back to the hospital via ambulance for Calcium tetany. It was so scary, especially for myself, my husband and us having a 5 months old little girl. I was then on IV calcium, potassium and mag for a 7 days. After that it took me a few weeks to be able to walk without a cane, and I was on calcium, a prescription medication, and Vitamin D for almost 2 years. And I was in the ER about once a week for a IV infusion of potassium and calcium. It was horrible. I fell in that 1% area and it stunk. It does get better. I haven't taken Calcium for almost 2 years, except when I get really sick or the stomach flue bc I am right on border line of normal. I can tell when it's even border line and I pop a calcium and it helps. Best of luck. 

candid
Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2014

hello there

i hope your post-op symptoms dissaperaed until now. I had minor calcium problem after my op, but my voice and swallowing was greatly affected; for a few weeks after the op, there was pain and difficulty while swallowing, but eventually it healed. It was my voice that required almost 1.5 years to come to a "normal" level (though it is still less that what i used to have prior to the surgery and i cannot sing as used to....). My ENT had said it would be fine over time and did not even mention about speech therapy; i wish he had! i still have slight difficulty while swallowing and sometimes i feel like i lose my voice. oh well :)  it is okay.

 

hope you are feeling better,

 

candid

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