Monday, August 29, 2011

How to win at having surgery

So I don't have a thyroid anymore, which is weird, but the entire experience was MUCH less horrible than I expected.  Aside from some extremely mild pain at the surgery site (seriously, I'm 4 days out and on exactly zero pain meds as of today) I don't feel any different. In fact - if this makes any sense - I feel BETTER. Maybe it's the  lack of the gigantic stress black cloud hovering over my head, or maybe it's the fact that my thyroid was an angry, inflamed, possibly cancerous POS, who knows.  And also, aside from being a giant wimp beforehand, I totally won at surgery.  Didn't think that was possible? Oh, don't worry, it are some helpful hints if you ever need surgery and you don't just want to have surgery, you want to WIN surgery.

-Tell your pre-op nurse that you ran 14 miles the day before.  Word will spread quickly and people will look at you like you are batshit insane.

-Have one of the hottest men you have ever seen in your life be a dental resident scrubbing in on your surgery.  Make sure to point out that they are a dentist, so they have a reason to stay longer and explain to you why they are there (if you want to be an oral surgeon, you have to do an anesthesia/general surgery residency so you can put patients under...makes sense, right?)

-Be able to max out an incentive spirometer (little thing that you inhale through to try to make sure that you are taking deep enough breaths).  Nurses, med students, and doctors alike will be amazed at your skills. Actual pre-surgery conversation:
Nurse: Okay, this is an incentive spirometer...
Me: Oh, I know how to use this, we had to learn how to teach people to use them in school.  Do you really think I need one?
Nurse: Well, we give them to everyone who's going under anesthesia. Why don't you give it a try.
Me: *Maxes out the test. Gives slightly smug look.*
Nurse: Um, wow. Okay. I've actually never seen anyone do that before.
Me: Yup. That's how I roll.

-When you come out of anesthesia, keep turning around to look at your vitals on the monitor (tricky when you've had surgery on your neck).  Make sure to tell the nurse "I don't think I need this oxygen anymore, I keep taking it off and I am still satting 100%".  She will look at you funny, but realize that you are right, and voila! O2 free!

-Make sure to be just distressed enough that the lady who makes the room assignments takes pity on you and puts you in a single room with ridiculously awesome view of the city.

-Approximately 8 hours after surgery, make sure you are power walking laps around the floor while chugging water so that your nurse will disconnect your IV.  Make people think that you are a visitor by your appearance, energy, and general lack of looking like a sick person. Annoy the nurses when you are walking faster than them.

-Borrow/steal your boyfriend's smartphone and watch episodes of Grey's Anatomy when you finally decide your are bored of walking (appropriate, no?).

-Have said boyfriend bring you Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee in the morning, even though it means he has to wake up an hour and half earlier than usual.

-Beg your resident to finish up your discharge paperwork ASAP so you can leave, then walk laps around the floor again so he has to see you every minute and cannot possibly forget.

-And the final way to win at surgery? Do not leave the hospital in a wheelchair. Direct quote: "well, usually we call for a wheelchair, but if anyone can walk out of here it's you can just go."

And that, friends, is how you win at surgery.  I'm technically still not supposed to run but I also don't think anyone expected me to be feeling quite as good as I am...I have been a good little patient so far mostly because I don't feel like ripping out any stitches, but I did walk 6 miles yesterday and am planning on going to the gym today.  Who does that 4 days post-op.  Me. That's who. :) I am a bit concerned that at some point I will have the crash that comes with not having a thyroid --> not having thyroid hormone --> metabolism sloooows down and feeling exhausted and sluggish...but my hope is that since I started on meds before surgery that things will be able to level out quickly and I will continue to rock out as my normal self. That's certainly how I feel at the moment.

Also...since this IS a running blog (and will continue to be so, this will likely be the last you hear of my health issues except as they relate to my running) Boston signup is in like 3 weeks?! Holy effing crap that came up quickly. Looks like I'll be in class at the time when my signup slot begins but I will definitely have my laptop with me. It's a little scary signing up now because I feel like I'm in the worst shape I've been in quite some time, and worlds away from the runner I was at Baystate last October (can't believe it's been almost a year...sad what a shitty year of running it's been) BUT with this thyroid shit behind me (aside from one minor thing that I may or may not need in the winter) I am ready to train my ass off for the next 8 months so I am ready to toe the line and run a great race come April.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Things that are super about my life right now:

  • I'm headed off on Wisconsin vacation #2 tomorrow where I will be fed free meals and delicious Wisconsin beer will rain down on me like...well...rain, I guess.
  • I started taking ballet class again and remembered why I freaking LOVE to dance and never want to leave it for a long period of time again.
  • My Kinvaras are the most ballerific running shoes I have ever worn, they are like little pillows of happy on my feet and I feel more fluid, faster, and generally better when I wear them.
  • The BF and I finally took the leap into the 20th century and got legit cable.  Which means doing things like watching a 4 hour marathon of Hoarders/Intervention, or what I like to call "the train wreck that you can't look away from special".
  • It is not 100 degrees outside.
  • I just finished "Unbroken" and it totally lived up to the hype.
Things that are not so super about my life right now:
  • I have to have surgery. 
  • See above.
So I actually debated for quite awhile over whether I was going to put anything about this up on the blog or not, but then my good friend Nicole made the very wise comment that "not telling people doesn't make it not real". And thus, I tell the abridged version, anyway.  See a couple of months ago, I started to have a weird sensation in my neck when I would run hard/when I was breathing hard.  Honestly anyone who isn't quite as big of a hypochondriac as me probably would have been like whatevs, but I felt around and found this little ball right in the middle of my neck. I didn't really have time to deal with it since I was on clinical but I mentioned at a routine doctor's appointment in July and soon enough I was being referred to an endocrinologist because it turns out it was on my thyroid (yes...I did take anatomy, why do you ask?)...which is where things really got fun.  I had an ultrasound, followed by an "I'm sure it's nothing, but we should biopsy it anyway"...followed by a phone call the next day of "well, it's suspicious, it might be thyroid cancer, you need surgery." BAM.  It was like being hit by a train. Oh, did I mention that this all went down as I'm walking through a semi-sketch neighborhood of Boston after a day of jury duty on which I got picked for the jury and then had to call the defendant not guilty? Well it did. Which obviously make the whole situation even better.

To me, who has been blessed to live a pretty carefree life, this was a huge blow.  I look in the mirror and I think - how could this person, who is a runner, a smart person, who eats well, avoids self destructive activities and almost anything that could be considered "bad for you" - even MAYBE have cancer? And I cried. I yelled. I played the 'why me' game - and after all, aren't all of my friends off enjoying their summers and scrubbing in to observe surgeries, not have them? I drank to excess a couple of times because it made me feel better.  And then, after about a week of wallowing, I stopped. Just like that. Because really, what good is it doing me to make myself completely miserable? I am not alone - the PT I worked with this summer actually went through this same deal, as did one of my friends on DailyMile.  And if I injured myself and had to have surgery for that, would I really be throwing this huge fit about it? No, because I would be like "well, I will have the surgery, and it will fix me!"  And essentially, this is the same thing, it's just harder because I don't FEEL like I need to be fixed.   But sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and deal with it.

So the big girl pants are on, and as of August 25 I will be minus 1 thyroid.  Not entirely sure what this means for XC season yet (it can take awhile to titrate hormone levels to a point where you actually feel normal, although I keep telling myself that I'll be lucky and my body will just figure it out), but all I know is that when I PR at Boston, having gone through all this shit will make it all the more sweet.