Thursday, August 30, 2012

Surgery update

Surgery went without a hitch. My surgery time got changed to 10am, instead of 7:30am, which was nice because we didn't have to wake up super early. Cayden stayed the night at Bryce and Julie's house the night before surgery, so we just came up by ourselves on Thursday morning. We checked in to the hospital around 9:00am and they pretty much took me right back to get prepped. Donning my beautiful hospital gown, I sat around for a while while they put in my IV port and my Scottish nurse named Val kept me entertained with her stories about being a traveling hippie in the 70s. Bryan was there waiting with me, and eventually my mom showed up too. Surgery was running a little late, but I think they got me in around 10:30 or 11am. Once they started pumping me with drugs, I don't remember much. 
I woke up around 3:00pm in the recovery room with a bunch of other groggy people. I felt pretty terrible, but that was just the anesthesia wearing off. They eventually wheeled my bed to another building, into the pediatric unit (because apparently that's where they store the recovery patients now) and into a room decorated with giraffes. Bryan and his dad were waiting there for me. I felt pretty good by this time, but not great. The nurses kept taking my temperature and asking my pain level. When I woke up, I think I was at a not too shabby! 
Dr. Donovan (my surgeon) was going home at 6pm, so before he left, he came to see if I was ok to go home! I was surprised because everyone (including the surgeon) had always told me that I would definitely have to stay the night to monitor my calcium levels. I guess that I was looking healthy enough and Dr. Donovan was confident in the fact that he knew he for sure left 2 of my 3 parathyroid glands in me, because he said I was cleared to go home, if I wanted! What a blessing! I don't really mind staying at the hospital, but I do mind the extra $$$ it takes to stay overnight! We never even ate a meal there....just lots of apple juice! 
They wouldn't let me eat any solid foods for 24 hours, and I was so hungry! When we got to Bryce and Julie's house (where Cayden was), I ate some Jamba Juice and chicken noodle soup and felt better.
The surgeon said everything went well, and according to the pathology report I got last week, my thyroid was not cancerous (I didn't really even know that was a possibility), and Dr. Donovan managed to save 3 of my 4 parathyroid glands. They made me take calcium supplements the whole week after my surgery, just in case, but I'm off those now, and only have to take one tiny, tasteless pill every morning. No more nasty pills three times a day, no more calcium supplements, no more thyroid!
Here's how the scar is looking today at 2 weeks out. It's quite a bit lower than I thought it would be (which is a good thing), it's actually right along the neckline of my t-shirt (in the pic above, I pulled my t shirt down a bit so you could see the scar. There was only one stitch on the outside (right in the middle) and Dr. Donovan removed that and the surgical tape last week. The tape was super itchy, so I was glad to have that removed. I am thankful for the tape, though because it meant less stitches and less scarring! I'm pretty impressed with Dr. Donovan's work. My voice is almost back to normal. It was just a little scratchy when I first woke up. I tried not to talk much, but it was hard to do because it didn't hurt to talk. I still can't sing very well, but that doesn't really matter. I sometimes have nice voice cracks, and can't yell too loud, but other than that, everything is pretty normal in that arena. Swallowing was probably the most uncomfortable thing right after surgery....oh, and yawning was painful for about a week and a half. I couldn't turn my head to check my blind spot until about 5 days after surgery. At two weeks out, swallowing is not uncomfortable, just feels a little weird, yawning is fine and I can turn my head like normal. The scar is itchy...that's probably the most annoying factor. 
Cayden still points at my scar every day and says "owie!" but she did pretty well through the whole thing, besides getting mad and punching me in the throat with her flailing arms once. My doctor said I have no restrictions.  
In other news, our Korean kids came back to us this past week! Cayden was so excited to have Lauren arrive on Tuesday. 
We helped Lauren move into her dorm at Corban on Friday. 

Here is her and her new roommate, Nikki. 
Sunday night we got a call from Bryan's mom that Lauren was on her way to the ER in Salem. Lauren said she didn't want us to come, and we had people at our house, so Bryan and I stayed put until we found out the damage. She had been out boating with her CORE group from Corban and some people had flipped off the tube thing and hit her in the collarbone. She was in pain, but not too bad, and there was a small bump, so they decided to take her in. 

The ER took X-rays and confirmed a VERY broken collarbone! Poor Lauren. She spent the night at Bryce and Julie's and we came up to see her the next morning. With collarbones, they don't really do much except give you a sling, but we are going to the Orthopedist tomorrow, so we will see what he says. Hopefully no surgery! Lauren started school on Wednesday, and she's coping alright, but a little stressed about all the homework she already has.
Cayden and I went to pick up Joe this morning from PDX. 
 He has moved into Lauren's old room, and is very happy with all the space!

Cayden keeps following him around the house, calling him "Chew-ah."   
We are a bustling household again!  

Monday, August 13, 2012


Being sick is a lame thing.
When my husband is sick, I tend to roll my eyes and complain about the mountains of used tissues everywhere, but when I am sick, it's not so simple. I'm now the one sneezing every 5 minutes and hoping that my bedroom stays below 85 degrees.
Bryan is so good to me. He's still sick with an ear infection, but knowing that I need to get better before my thyroidectomy on Thursday, he took Cayden to work with him and called up Seihwa to watch her for most of the day.
As nice as it is to have an empty house to rest in, I'm bummed that Cayden is away from me today. Tomorrow, I work, so she's with my mom.
Wednesday, we are taking the youth group to Wild Waves, so she's staying with Bryan's mom.
Thursday is my surgery, so Bryan's mom is watching her again.
Just not much time in there for mommy/daughter time!
I don't have many fears going into this surgery.
There's like a 2 percent chance I could completely lose my voice because they are working so close to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (which controls the voicebox). In all likelihood, I won't lose my voice, but it might be a little hoarse due to vocal cord swelling from the breathing tube that will be down my throat during the surgery.
For the sake of record keeping, and for anyone interested, here's the details about my surgery...
This is a thyroid gland. The thyroid gland controls your metabolism and hormone distribution.
I have Graves' Disease (diagnosed last November), so my thyroid doesn't work right. Graves' is an autoimmune disorder where my body is basically attacking itself. My immune system creates thyrotropin receptor antibodies that attach to a particular protein (hormone receptors) on the surface of cells in the thyroid . These receptors are supposed to distribute my hormones, but because of the antibodies, they instead go "hyper" and distribute way too much thyroid hormone. Usually, the hypothalamus regulates the pituary gland (both located in your brain)

and the pituary gland regulates the thyroid's hormone production. 
Graves' causes the brain's instructions to be overridden.
No one really knows why Graves' Disease happens, but pregnancy and being a woman under 40 are both risk factors (pretty broad, I know). There are other risk factors too, but none that fit me. 
So....there is no cure for graves, but similar to cancer, if you take out the part of the body it is attacking, it is no longer a problem. So I needed to get rid of my thyroid. There were two long term options. 
Option 1: Radioactive iodine pill. For more info on this, see here.
Option 2: Total thyroidectomy surgery.
There were many appointments with endocrinologists and surgeons and months of thinking about the two options, but the whole time I have been pretty set on surgery. While surgery carries slightly more risk, it also means Bryan and I will be able to continue to grow our family sooner and we won't be worrying about whether or not the radioactive iodine actually worked. 
So I'm having surgery....on Thursday....if my cold subsides. 
My surgeon does 50 thyroidectomies every year, so I'm pretty confident in his abilities. I will be left with a noticeable horizontal scar about 2 inches above my collarbone, but in a year, it shouldn't be SO noticeable.  The surgery includes removing both lobes of my thyroid (the thing below that looks like a brain) while watching out for the recurrent laryngeal nerve that runs around the thyroid (marked by black arrows below). Also, the surgeon has to watch out for the 4 parathyroid glands (shown below marked with white arrows and black arrow tops), which regulate calcium levels.

 The parathyroids (ideally) need to be removed from my thyroid and left in the neck tissue.

So that's the should take about 3 hours tops, but I have to stay overnight at the Salem Hospital (where the surgery will take place) for observation of my calcium levels. Afterwards, recovery is just a couple of days, and I will need to take 1 pill a day for the rest of my life to replace my hormones.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ella Mae Selander

Just as I was getting ready to head off to church on Sunday afternoon (12:27pm to be exact), my best friend, Alicia, called me to say she had been admitted to the hospital and was in labor!
 Since Bryan was speaking at Canyonview Camp starting Sunday night, I needed to get everything packed up for a week at camp AND a night of me staying at the hospital with Alicia and Ben (I was the designated right-after-birth photographer). So....I skipped church to pack. Once I got everything ready for a week away from home, I packed up Cayden and headed to my parents house, so they could watch her while I was at the hospital. Bryan had to head to camp that night, so he couldn't watch Cayden the whole night. By the time I got to the hospital (4pm), Alicia had already gotten the epidural and was resting quite comfortably.
 Whenever she wanted more drugs, she could press this little bolus button. It was a very handy button.
Alicia's whole family was there at one point.

The epidural slowed things down a lot (as to be expected), and so we just hung out waiting for her to dilate to 10 cm. She would not tolerate any food smells in the delivery room, so we had to eat our Hawaiian Time out in the waiting room at dinner time. I think by 10pm, she was at 10cm, and they just kept waiting for her to "have the urge" to push. They told me the same thing when I was having Cayden, but that urge never came to either of us, and at 11:15pm, they just decided to have her start pushing.  
Her contractions were about 5 minutes apart, so the pushing progress was slow. Alicia worked so hard, pushing for almost 3 hours! I couldn't imagine that! I only pushed for 30 minutes! 
Little Eleanora "Ella" Mae Selander was born at 1:54am, July 30th, 2012. 
She weighed a petite 6 pounds, 14 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.
 The little family of 3.
 A happy grandma (Oma)
 Proud daddy
 Auntie Brittany
 There's her eyes
 Only a couple of minutes old..
Welcome to the world, Ella Mae.