Before you go to sleep
If you haven’t already met your anaesthetist you will meet them either on the ward or in the anaesthetic bay on the day of your surgery. At this stage if you have any concerns or worries about your operation or anaesthetic please let them know.
Once in the anaesthetic bay you will have an intravenous drip placed and often you will be given a sedative “relaxing medication” just before going into the operating theatre. You often will not remember much after being given the sedative. Once inside the operating theatre you will have several monitors placed (these monitor things like your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing patterns). Once these are placed you will be given an oxygen mask and then receive another injection through the drip. This injection will put you “to sleep”.The next thing you will remember is waking up either in the recovery room or in the operating theatre.
During the operation your anaesthetist will remain with you monitoring your operation, anaesthetic and all your vital physiological functions. They stay with you until you reach the recovery room where your care will continued by the recovery staff. While you are in recovery if you have any discomfort or feel nauseous or sick it is important that you let the recovery staff know. They can administer pain killers or anti nausea drugs if they are required. The aim is to have you comfortable when you leave recovery for the ward.
Your Stay in Hospital
Most patients having hemithyroid or parathyroid surgery will stay over night and most total thyroidectomies stay for two nights. Once we get you comfortable in recovery most patients generally have a good night in terms of pain. You will be given paracetamol regularly during your hospital stay and frequently this is all that will be required for pain relief. However if you have significant discomfort please let the nursing staff know as you will be written up for pain relief if it is needed.
Often people describe the worst of their pain being a sore throat similar to when you have a bad cold. This is partly due to the endotrachael tube (breathing tube) that you need for the operation and partly because whilst removing your thyroid your surgeon needs to move the gland around the tube which can cause some mild inflammation. Again if you have any discomfort please let the staff know.
It is not unusual to have some mild nausea and dizziness during the first night. if it is particularly worrying for you please let the staff know as they can give you some medication and fluids to ease this.
During the first night you will generally be allowed to have some clear fluids to drink but not food. The next morning you will be started on a light breakfast and then your diet will progress depending on how you feel. Once you have eaten your breakfast, if you feel well in many cases the intravenous drip will be removed.
If you have had a hemithyroidectomy or parathyroidectomy, if your surgeon is happy with your progress and you feel well, you will often go home around lunch time. If you have had a total thyroidectomy you might stay another night.
Whether or not you have had a hemithyroidectomy, total thyroidectomy or parathyroidectomy, you need someone to pick you up from the hospital and take you home. We recommend our patients take regular paracetamol for 2-3 days after their surgery. If the paracetamol is taken regularly we often find our patients do not require any other pain relief. You will be given a prescription for a stronger pain medication just in case you need them.
Most of the patients we talk to over the next few days often report feeling “great” the day they go home and then say they don’t have such a great day the second day. Many people report feeling a bit tired or lethargic or just feeling “a bit off”. There is no exact reason why this occurs; it is probably a combination of inflammation, general tiredness and the fact that some of the anti inflammatory drugs give around the time of surgery have worn off. Either way it generally lasts for a day and we have never needed to re admit a patient to hospital because of it.