Thyroid cancer

A place for people affected by thyroid cancer to support one another, ask questions, and share their experiences.

I need help please

Fran85
Posted by

Hi, I am really struggling with post surgery issues.  I get panic attacks and need someone to help me please medically everything is fine I just get about 1 to 2 periods a day where I feel like I can not breath and my skin gets really tight around my neck.

Thank you all so much,

Fran

Thank you so much,
Fran
Lass
Posted by

Heya Fran, 

Sorry to hear that you're struggling at the moment. 

What sort of help is it you're looking for, do you know? I guess if it's with the panic attacks, then I'd probably suggest looking into both meditation and mindfulness exercises, especially those that deal with panic attacks and anxiety. For the tightness, try keeping a bottle of water to hand. Then, if you feel something happening then take a quick sip of water and see if that stops it in its tracks. 

Always here when I can be, so do just shout! 

Lass

Xx

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Fran85
Posted by

Hi Lass,

Thank you so much for your support. I do all these things already but get into an really bad panic attack still. It is also that I feel no improvement at all since released from hospital. But than, I am sleeping through the night for the last 2 nights and I do not need any painkiller since released on Monday evening.  I will look into meditation most definitely:-) 

They done a lot of work with thyroid gland and 38 lymphnots removed. Maybe I am asking to much of myself? as surgery was 5 1/2 hours and is was quite a big job.

Thank you again Lass, this is so helpful as no one really understands how I feel. 

Xxxxx Fran

Thank you so much,
Fran
Lass
Posted by

Ah ha! Thanks for more info on what's been done, that'll really help me with this post!

OK, so... A 'normal' hemi or thyroidectomy, you're looking at a two week healing time. Ish. The tightness is usually the internal stitches, because there is no give in them like there is in your tissues. Though with scar tissue, some people may still get a bit of tightness for a long time after. Myself, I'm 7 years out and I have a fun gagging problem when the temp changes too quickly. Usually from outside going in, suddenly my throat decides it wants to swallow my tongue. So I always carry a bottle of water with me, as a quick sip is the only thing that stops it from being stupid. But I digress....

You've had what's called a neck dissection. To find the lymph nodes, they need to cut through muscles all through one or both sides of your neck, depending on which nodes they are taking. They also move things around, and rummage and fig through trying to find these small peas. Imagine tossing 38 peas into your over full handbag then trying to find them all and pick them out. Lol. This causes a lot more damage that your body needs to heal, as well as meaning a lot more stitches. On average, it takes 6 months to fully heal from a neck dissection.

So another piece of advice, once you're 2 weeks clear of your surgery, get in touch with your GP and ask them to show you how to massage your neck to help reduce swelling and scar tissue. Also, ask them for some physio exercises to help you get back or retain full movement in your neck and arm. As things heal, they sometimes heal a bit tighter than they used to be, so doing some physio exercises will not only help you feel more in control of everything going on, so should help with the panic attacks, but will also help keep you loose and supple.

It's great that you don't need the pain killers anymore, but I'd also suggest taking some anti-inflammatories still - if you're OK taking them. While things might not be sore anymore, they will more than likely still be inflamed. This will swell more as you use your neck, which could also be why you're sometimes getting the tightness and other times not. Keeping things not inflamed will give more room around the stitches so they won't pull as much.

But other than the panic attacks, everything sounds like it's progressing and healing nicely, and is all perfectly normal. So hopefully, knowing that, and the above, will help you day to day. But you know where we are. Always up for a chat and to help with any questions or queries. So just shout. 

Lass

Xx

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Lydia245
Posted by

Hi Lass,

could you tell me more about the ‘gagging problem’ you have please? I am two years post op and get a weird feeling in my throat like a muscle gets stuck and spasms, happens when I laugh too much or if I yawn really deeply.

Thanks,

Lydia

Lass
Posted by

Hey there

Sure, what exactly would you like to know about it? it's been particularly fun recently with the remnants of a cold I'm dealing with. lol

Lass

xx

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Lydia245
Posted by

Hi Lass,

Just generally more about the sensation you feel when this happens?

Also do you generally get any muscular issues with your neck? I had a total thyroidectomy and left neck dissection and had 20 staples across my neck so this maybe doesn't affect anyone who had a 'normal' thyroidectomy but I get tight muscles and aches in my shoulder almost daily.

Thanks, Lydia x

Lass
Posted by

Heya Lydia, 

Hmmm, the best way of describing it is it's like the part of my tongue going down my throat suddenly gets too big for the space it's in. So my body then tries to swallow it or throw it up. It happens with temperature changes, strong smells, and sometimes - lately - when I lie in bed and my throat touches itself. They all totally set me off, and the only thing that can stop it is a sip of water.

No muscular issues here though other than the norm. After your neck dissection, did you make sure and get some physio exercises from your GP to do? And if you did, did you do them fully and properly? If you didn't, go to your GP and ask them for some exercises, or a referral to a physio. DON'T look them up online and try them, as you could end up doing the wrong ones and making things worse as a couple of people have in the past.

Lass

Xx

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. - Thich Nhat Hanh