I had a Hemi-thyroidectomy in Jan 2019. Here is a blog I’ve made about my journey to help bring awareness and hopefully help anyone who may be experiencing some of what I've been through. I've been meaning to put this up for some time but its such a long healing process physically as well as mentally.
In the summer of 2018, I was feeling really unwell. I’d had a couple of other illnesses and a lot of allergic reactions. After being at the doctors and being to the hospital several times, I wasn’t feeling good about calling any doctor because of some of the recent unpleasant experiences I'd had with them.
I’d been feeling so tired lately. Sleeping constantly. I’d put it down to the late-night shifts I had been DJing and my schedule of castings and shoots. Although I was someone who would always be at the gym, always running around always busy, lots of energy. I thought oh maybe I just need to rest.
It was sometime in July, I scratched my neck one day feeling a slight discomfort and noticed I had a lump. Looking in the mirror I checked it out I couldn’t really see it being big front on, I said oh it could be from anything, I had lots of different things going on the past while with allergic reactions, swollen lymph nodes a couple of months before, it will probably go down, I’ll monitor it. As I'd been to my GP and been in hospitals a lot recently over that past while and had unpleasant experiences so I didn’t wanna call the doctor or go to the hospital again.
It was mid-August, 5-6 weeks later I received some images from a shoot I’d done around that time. Looking through the photographs, I couldn’t believe it but I could actually see the lump in the photos. And it looked big. I had a pose to the side and I could see it clearly.
I hadn’t experienced any pain and I had thought it had gone down and forgotten about it. I rushed to the mirror and gave myself a serious examination and I recorded my neck on my phone side on to see too and realized the lump was still there. I decided I’d call my GP first thing in the morning because I was still experiencing tiredness. That night I woke up in the early hours of the morning choking and in the worst pain, I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance. I finally stopped choking but my head, my jaw, and my ear caused me excruciating pain. I didn’t sleep I was too scared. I called my GP the next day and received an appointment immediately. The doctor examined my neck. She said I had a lump on my thyroid.
She asked how long I’d had the lump, I said I noticed it maybe 5-6 weeks ago she said ‘And it's that size’. My heart just sank. I said oh fuck. Fuck! I knew it then. She’s gonna send me for the C test. So, I explained all my symptoms I’d been feeling, the pain the night before, the tiredness, the sleeping a lot, the swollen lymph nodes a few months before. She said she was referring me to a specialist and sending me for urgent referral for cancer tests.
She was nice and she tried to reassure me she didn’t think it was cancer but wanted to rule it out as standard procedure. She asked me why I hadn’t come sooner and I explained I hadn't had a good experience with hospitals and doctors the past while and I'd actually meant to re-register elsewhere, so I thought I'd see would it go away itself. I called my mum when I got out of the doctors and just cried my eyes out.
September, 2 weeks later I met the consultant ENT surgeon. He examined me and we had chat. I think the lump itself maybe had been 3cm at this time. Then another 2 weeks later I went for my scan and biopsy. The biopsy was super scary. I had to lie down on the chair with my head tilted back on the headrest, stay still, and not swallow. When I saw the doctor with the syringe I said to myself O my fucking god, that's going in my neck, that's going in my neck wtf!! I just closed my eyes and clenched my fists and I stayed still. I was actually terrified. Cried after that too. I’d had so many opportunities at the time and things I had to turn down, once in a lifetime things, and it just felt my world was starting to crumble. I'd no idea why this was happening to me and praying for the best outcome.
Moving forward in the next couple of weeks I started to really feel the pain. I had to take the time off work and cancel shoots and Djing because I was so tired, sleeping like 12 -14hours a day, managed to get tonsilitis too. I was having constant headaches and sometimes choking then panicking that I was going to have to call an ambulance from time to time. Googling didn’t help. I finally got my results and they had said the biopsy didn’t show any signs of cancer but because the nodule had grown than 4cm and growing, the results would be slightly lower and once it reaches 4cm they usually take it out or if I had wanted to monitor and have another scan in three or four months I could.
I didn’t know how to take the news I just wanted this out of my body as soon as possible. So it was agreed I'd have the surgery. I felt more comfortable to have this out of my body. I was put on the emergency surgery list. I was supposed to have the surgery within 8-12 weeks. The list was so busy I didn’t have my surgery until the end of January. In the weeks leading up to it, I just had all kinds of thoughts in my head and had been preparing myself for the worst news. Then I googled and watched a video of the operation and the scar, which was probably not the best thing to do at the time ha, I was thinking about the worst news, thinking about my work, how bad is the scar going to be maybe, I’ll have to do something else. I really just wanted to go home and be with my family but now I’d been booked in I just had to wait it out. And that was the hardest part. I said once I recover I’ll go home after this. So I just came to an acceptance eventually of it is what it is and whatever the result, I’ll be absolutely fine. I’ll bounce back, and what I’ll do with my life after I don’t know. I’d been advised that if it was cancer it was good cancer to get because it's very curable. It still just didn’t make me feel good.
So my surgery date came. My mum came over to stay with me and look after me. The hospital called that morning, my surgery had been moved up. So now I was getting there urgently. I was feeling fine, I was actually chilled up until the very last second, the surgeon came out and said Martina we are ready for you. And I was like oooooh fuck! Shit. This is it. So I'm lying on the bed and I’ve already signed my life away I'm telling myself. There's one surgeon who’s there’s specifically to look after my vocal cords... wow. Ok. So I keep chatting and chatting, delaying myself from breathing in the general anesthetic. Then they said right Martina lets go. And I was like oh crap. So I took a deep breath. Woke up maybe 3-4 hours later.
Worst wake up ever. Ever! I could hear sounds first, felt like the loudest sounds ever, And everything was blurry. So blurry. So all I hear is 'she’s waking up let's move her in'. I'd no idea what was going on, so I'm being wheeled somewhere in this bed. I stood up wobbly and started to vomit blood. Yes, vomit. Nurses had not given me the anti-sickness!! The nurses crowded around me and started trying to inject it into my left wrist but I kept flinching and starting crying because it was painful but I couldn’t speak and was too fucked to express myself. Finally, a nurse copped on and realized the catheter had moved, so they rushed to try to give me the anti-sickness and find the vein in my right arm, not successful, my right wrist was successful and they injected the anti-sickness. Thank fuck. That was absolutely horrific!!!!!! Of course, my mum starts freaking out saying wtf are u doing, you are supposed to be looking after her wtf why is she getting f sick. Thanks Val :)
It was a very tough night. They had forgotten to give me painkillers. Can you imagine?!!! I kept asking and they said they said someone would be going around with them. I was so all over the place, in and out of sleep. I was in the ladies' ward and it felt like I was in was this crazy place. One lady kept shouting and a had loud tv, one lady kept snoring loudly, and one other lady crying and talking to herself. It was really sad. And I was in the horrors. I just woke up and I was furious after getting sick!! I couldn’t wait to get out! Then the next morning a nurse came around and read my chart and said 'oh wow you've done very well you didn't need any pain killers during the night'. Honestly when he said that.... my head was like £!@£*%@£(%&£&!!!!! Get me out of here!! The surgery itself was great, the aftercare was horrendous.
They were awaiting tests to see would they allow me out the next day. Imagine another night of no painkillers. My voice was sounding awful, but some of it was there, they said it was a good sign and not to worry and it would come back in a couple of weeks but if it didn’t they could operate again. I was like even if I have no voice or my voice sounds different, or I never sing along to another song in my life, I'm never going through this ever again if I don’t have to.
They let me go home. I never ordered Uber so quickly!! So mum looked after me in recovery. And it was my bday a few days later. I’d had to get the stitches out on my birthday. I was looking like Frankenstein so I was happy to be getting them out although it was very painful. The nurse joked its better to be getting stitches out than in. So very true. A birthday not to be forgotten. Me and my mum went to a local cafe for my birthday and we had chocolate cake and hot chocolate. Then home for more resting.
We awaited the results. Finally, they came a few weeks later. The nodule had grown >5cm. It had been tested. No cancer. What a relief. What a relief. I actually couldn’t believe it. My mum was actually more worried than me I think. The thoughts of having a second operation to remove the rest of my thyroid and receive treatment. My weight had been very slim leading up to the op, after it, I'd gotten slimmer, then put on weight and went up and down in weight for a bit, my hair I'd experienced some fallout and continued to have some tiredness but soon after a few weeks began to feel a lot stronger, less tired and my voice returned too.
Today I’m still going for regular blood tests I am feeling so much better. More energy, no nightmares. I didn't know how lifechanging this was going to make me. I'm more grateful for a lot of things. It's strange but I can say I was definitely wearing the pain in my face for a long time because I didn't look the same in person or photos and I felt different in myself. I guess that's trauma. But I'm looking and feeling a lot better now. I can say my surgeon was amazing. Through the whole process. He was awesome with all my fears and I was worried about my scar and he did a pretty neat job of it. I think he’s truly the best! And who knows maybe my scar may be suitable for a role!
So the main message on my post is if you have any lumps or bumps it is really so important to get them checked out ASAP. Me leaving mine for weeks was not a good idea no matter what else I’d been going through I should have sucked it up and went the doctor straight away or went to a different doctor and registered somewhere else. I was really lucky to get the good news and be able to focus on getting better.
I hope that anyone reading this, if they may be going through something similar that my journey may be helpful to you.
Sending you all lots of love and light