I think my recovery was hampered simply because I had my operation when I was feeling very well. Afterwards, I felt very ill and because I could not physically feel the benefits of the operation, it made me feel low and had a slowing down effect on my recovery.
I was informed of the side affects of having a neck dissection and total thyroidectomy. I had to sign a disclaimer to say that the hospital was not responsible for any possible problems caused by the surgery such as loss of voice, loss of ability to sing (seeing as I couldn't sing anyway, this didn't really bother me), problems relating to muscles in my face which could cause me not to be able to smile properly. These were just a few that I can remember. As there are a lot of muscles and nerves in the neck area, this was always going to be a risky operation.
I had no choice but to sign and hope that the medical team would be capable of performing the operation with too many problems.
That evening I was all alone, for the first time since I was diagnosed. It was hard as I wasn't tired, and there was no-one about who could keep me occupied. I managed to find a room down the end of a vacant ward where I could phone a friend. I stayed in there watching the Geri Halliwell documentary. Well at least my life wasn't that bad!
I took a few sedatives to help me sleep. I was woken up at 6.30am and told to get washed in preparation for my operation for 9am. I got into my operating gown and waited for Tom to arrive. At this point I had no restrictive visiting hours.
Tom and I waited in the empty room and watched tv to try and occupy our minds from what was about to happen. I was then informed my operation wouldn't be till 11am as the previous operation had taken longer than first thought. This only increased my anxiety and upset.
By this point, I had come to terms with having cancer, but was upset because of the scar I was going to have. Not like one you get when you have your appendix out that can be hidden, but one humdinger of a scar slap bang on my neck. There was going to be no easy way of covering it up. I had never had an operation before and was not psychologically prepared for surgery. I had great images of me reading books and relaxing in bed, boy was I wrong. When I wasn't throwing up from the morphine, I was sleeping.
Finally they came to get me. This was it, no going back. I was wheeled through to theatre where my last image was of Tom crying and me crying.
The doors swung shut. I had no-one now, it was only me and five other strangers who were going to save my life.
The tears didn't stop, which possibly helped that I didn't notice a large plastic tube being stuck in the back of my hand.
I was told I would have two injections to anaesthetise me, the first one would make me feel drunk, which may I add was a damn fine feeling, then the next would send me off to sleep. One of the nurses, said, think of being on a beach in Australia, then count back from 10 to 1, I was gone within the first image of sitting on Bondi Beach drinking a nice cold alcoholic beverage, there was no need to count numbers.
The operation took three hours and consisted of making a huge cut and stapling my neck to my chest (I have the staple marks to prove it). They removed the tumour, thyroid and a few lymph nodes it had spread too. I also had a neck dissection so that they could investigate the possible spread of the tumour. I then had two drains put in my neck to remove the fluids that would form whilst my neck tried to heal itself. These were kept in with stitches. I was then stapled back together with over 30 staples.
I was then left to recover from the anaesthetic.