Author Archives: Brigitte

Graves Disease Total Thyroidectomy: Experiences and Advice for During and After the Hospital

Butterfly

This is a post to give some personal information and advice to others who have Graves disease and are planning on having a total thyroidectomy. Remember that I’m not a doctor or medical professional, that everyone’s experiences are different, and that this is just my anecdotal information. That being said, there was so relatively little online telling me what to expect after a thyroidectomy for Graves disease specifically that I would have appreciated a lot more information going in. This is because I’ve come to understand that partial thyroidectomy, total thyroidectomy for suspicious nodule/cancer, and total thyroidectomy for Graves disease are all very different in terms of procedure and healing. I now believe that Graves, as the least common of the three procedures, is also the trickiest, and that there was a lot I didn’t know going in. I’m also an over-preparer and super organized, so there’s some things I did at the time that felt ‘paranoid’ but ended up being ‘genius’.

Personal: About My Graves

Full disclosure, I am completely happy that I got the procedure. I only had my thyroid out two weeks ago, so I’m not going to pass any judgements on how I’m feeling, but I asked my surgeons for a photo of my thyroid and that thing was wrecked. It was never going to get better, and so I feel very sure that, whatever lies ahead, this was the right choice just based on the condition of the organ. That peace of mind means a lot, so if you’re curious, ask to see your thyroid post-op.

There are also a ton of variables going into surgery that I’m sure affect the experience. For one my thyroid numbers were stable and had been for about three months. Next, I completed all my prep with the Lugol’s solution and didn’t miss one dose, nor was a dose ever late. My Graves isn’t yours, obviously, so just in the interest of being transparent I will say I had heart issues (tachycardia and skipped beats) for which I took Atenolol, and mild TED that had stabilized a few months before surgery. My Methimazole dose going in was 10 mg/day and my last pill was the day before surgery. I didn’t have Graves lite though, let me assure you, for many months I was on 40 mg/day. I do think that waiting for the Graves to stabilize was a good idea for me personally though.

I also had some things that I cannot take credit for that were, I believe, hugely in my favor. I went to Dr. Gary Clayman at Tampa General Hospital, and his team is apparently one of the best in the country. I’m local, so this was just luck, but they live up to their reputation. They were amazing, and the number of people who (weirdly) called my incision “beautiful” were not joking. It’s a very clean cut and the work of someone who is obviously very skilled. This was probably the biggest factor of them all, so I would advise finding a very experienced surgeon. Because even the Clayman team, who does over 600 procedures a year, admitted that Graves thyroidectomies are their least common procedure by far.

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10 Reasons You Know You’re an Adult

Oddly, one of the sweetest questions that I get from teenage students is “How do you know when you’re an adult?” I’m definitely an adult now, and here are some things that make me sure that I’m an adult. I had this sitting around the draft file for about a year and thought I’d post “publish.”

1. A Teenager Will Think You’re Old – This isn’t going to happen until you’re late 20s, but at some point you’re going to meet a teenager and they will be glib and standoffish with you … because you’re old. Old to a teenager is mid-to-late 20s, but when they sort you from the ‘us’ pile of youth to the ‘them’ of oldness pile, you are an adult.

2. You Stop Caring – in a good way! I remember one time when I was in front of a classroom, sitting in a chair, and trying to get the power cord into my laptop to charge it. I dropped the cord, and when I went to reach for the laptop it started to slip out of my hands, and, in my haste to rescue it, I fell completely out of my chair and onto the ground. In front of a room full of teenagers. And I just laughed. You know that you’re an adult when you’re secure enough in yourself that you can ’embarrass’ yourself and be totally fine with it. This is probably why everyone’s parents seem ’embarrassing’ when what has really happened it that they have no f**** to give.

3. Curtains – I really felt like an adult when I hung up curtains. I was like, “An adult lives here!” then looking around and realizing my parents don’t live here and thought, “Wait, it’s me! I’m the adult who lives here!” and I still am. Also, I love my curtains.

4. Friend’s Advice Changes from Dating to Insurance – Your gabfests with your friends will change from “OMG this guy and stuff!” to “Do you like your insurance company? Because I’m shopping around for a better rate.” Also, if a friend gets a major home repair and you’re like, “I need the number of your electrician,” you know you’re an adult. Especially if that’s the last phone number you’ve gotten in years.

5. You Get Revertigo – This term is from How I Met Your Mother, but it is so apt. Revertigo is where you revert to how to used to be (ie: dumb) around a person from your past that you haven’t seen in a while. Young people don’t get revertigo because they haven’t been around long enough to revert to the past, because they don’t have a past … because they’re young. Welcome to adulthood!

6. Your Body Will Turn on You – Get ready for it, because your home, aka your body, will totally turn on you. I’m not just talking about somehow hurting your neck while sleeping – which will happen – or the horrid cracking sound your hip will make when you’ve sat on the ground too long – again, this will happen, but your metabolism will be the first to go. If you’re super young and whining, “I’m so fat” while clutching a pair of size 4 jeans, revenge is nigh. Also, cooked red meat will turn on you. Burger? Alka Seltzer. Steak? Oh, yeah, that’s an Alka Seltzer night. Stop considering Slim Jims, your body suddenly figures out that they’re poison. Your body just stops being able to handle red meat around 30-ish. My last meal before going veg was a filet mignon with an Alka Seltzer chaser. It might sneak up on you, but when you pass on certain foods because you know they’ll wake you up at night, you’re an adult.

7. Kids Will Appear – You may not have kids, which is a great and valid decision by the way, but kids will show up anyway. I suddenly became a step-mom a few years ago, and it was jarring because I realized that I was a step-mom. Wait, what? What surprised me, what shook me, was that there were kids, and if something went wrong (if, lol, I meant “when”) it was going to be my responsibility. That’s it. Not that I wanted to or not, but it was going to happen. Those who are childfree will notice that kids will pop up, your friends will have them, and then they do the darndest thing: age. If your friend’s kid is graduating High School (a dark day) you’re officially an adult.

8. You Look Forward to Paying Bills – I love paying my bills, filing my taxes, updating my insurance, and it’s not because it’s fun, but because it has to get done. Being capable of paying your own bills is one of the most underrated feelings in the world, by the way.

9. The Person Intervening is You – When you’re young you just have this feeling that other people, adults namely, will take care of it, whatever ‘it’ is. If you find a lost dog, help it (so inconvenient), and reunite it with its owner (or, if you’re me, unsuccessfully chase it through your neighborhood while yelling “Let me help you!”) you’re an adult. There’s something that flips inside that just says, “When someone/something needs help, and I can help, I will help,” and you just do.

10. Birthday Appliances – If it’s your birthday and you want a new fridge, you’re an adult, end of story. When I was 21 I got a vacuum for my birthday and I was so mad; this year if someone offered me a birthday washer/dryer I’d be over the moon.

Book Reviews of November 2018

I got a Kindle for my birthday and recently signed up for NetGalley, which is a site where teachers and librarians can get advanced copies of book in exchange for feedback and reviews. Jokes on them since I don’t need to be asked for my opinion of books, I give it regardless! Anyway, between that and being home way too much this semester I’ve been stepping up my leisure reading game this month. Mostly that’s because I pretty much only read ‘serious’ literature for work, plus (thanks to ten years in grad school) I’m kind of a literature snob. Now I’m trying to find my leisure reading legs, so to speak, all while trying to figure out my new-fangled Kindle. Without further ado, here’s all the books I read in November …

Manga Classics Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Manga Classics Pride and PrejudiceI’ve recently been working my way through a pretty serious book purge and I realized that I have not one, but two copies of the Manga Classics edition of Pride and Prejudice. In December I’m going to see the play, Christmas at Pemberley, with my family, so I wanted to re-read the novel before we go. I thought that this edition would be a fun way to quickly review Austen’s book before I saw the play, and that it was. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to, and now I want to read their versions of Emma and Sense and Sensibility. There are, of course, some inaccuracies, like some modern colloquialisms, Mr. Darcy’s open shirt, and Wickham trying to sexually assault Elizabeth after he’s married to Lydia (which is just an odd scene). All that aside I think it would be a really great way to get younger kids interested in the classics, and I’ve heard of teachers having great success with these editions. Jane and Elizabeth are still great, and the way Mrs. Bennett is illustrated is pretty fabulous. As much as I was prepared to dislike it, I couldn’t put it down, and ended up reading the whole thing in one afternoon.

Marigolds and Murder by London Lovett

Marigolds and Murder by London LovettA few months back a friend recommended a genre to me that I had never heard of before: the cozy mystery. Apparently, they are Murder She Wrote style murder mystery novels, generally set in a small town, that are free of graphic violence and sex (and since I’m an old lady trapped in lousy young lady body I steer clear of such vulgarities). Marigolds and Murder is the first book in the Port Danby series and I got it for free through my Kindle for some reason (I think it was through Kindle Owners Lending Library, but I can’t return it so maybe it was just free). I’m suffering through a bout of medicine induced insomnia where, once or twice a week, I wake up in the middle of the night and cannot fall back asleep for hours, and this book was my companion through those nights. It was as advertised and was a pretty straightforward story with a surprising amount of literary allusions (Pride and Prejudice and Poe’s “The Raven”). The murderer wasn’t even a little surprising, but it was fun to read. I still don’t know if the genre, or series, is for me, but I’m interested in reading the next book in the series regardless. If you have any recommendations in this genre please leave me a comment.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables by LM MontgomeryI received the Sweet Cherry Publishing edition released in September 2018 from NetGalley for this classic. It’s a Canadian children’s classic from the turn of the century and it’s absolutely adorable. I read voraciously as a child, and, while I read every single Amelia Bedelia book, I never read Anne of Green Gables. I absolutely love the title character, she’s deeply imaginative, kind, forgiving, and very intelligent. I’m kind of taken aback by how much I love her, and it makes me incredibly happy that she’s super competitive in school. I also really like that Anne is both extremely emotional and extremely intelligent at the same time; usually female characters are one or the other, and Anne is wonderful because she has both depth of feeling and thinking. Imagination is something that children have less and less, so I think this book would be perfect for late elementary to early middle school children because it shows how children can imagine the world around them. There’s some old timey slang and vocabulary, but not enough to obscure meaning. The only thing I wish for with this novel is that I had read it as a little girl.

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De Pesloüan

What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De PesloüanI received an advance copy of What Makes Girls Sick and Tired by Lucille De Pesloüan and illustrated by Geneviève Darling through NetGalley in exchange for a review; this title will be released by Second Story Press in March 2019. As a zinster from way back, I love that this book started out as a zine. It’s an illustrated list of things that girls and women around the globe are “sick and tired” of dealing with. Every statement is illustrated with simple yet expressive line drawings to emphasize the message. It’s not graphic or needlessly upsetting, but it doesn’t shy away from the issues that women and girls face around the world, and it supports them with statistics that are cited. I would recommend the book to High School teachers who want to introduce feminism into the curriculum without it being misunderstood. It’s also a good way to introduce feminism to young women and men. When my son asks why he should care about feminism, I’d like to hand him this before we start talking. As the book itself states, it’s a conversation starter, and because it’s illustrated many students would be more receptive to it. I also think it’s important that the title specifically uses the world ‘girls’ even though women, of course, don’t want to be infantilized, because the book is addressing a younger audience. Women will not be surprised by anything in the book, but girls may.

Manga Classics The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Manga Classics Count of Monte CristoI received a digital edition of the Manga Classics The Count of Monte Cristo from Udon Entertainment via NetGalley. This is a classic novel, but one that I didn’t know much about. I used this adaptation as a sort of toe-in-the-water to see if I would be interested in the novel by Alexandre Dumas. I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely loved it. The story itself is a classic and satisfying revenge story; the count is wrongly imprisoned as a young man, and, after a daring escape from the dungeon, punishes those who betrayed him. It’s a gripping read and I loved every part of it; the vengeance was quite satisfying. The adaptation itself was great, the framing and illustrations added a lot to the story, and I supremely enjoyed it (even more than the edition of Pride and Prejudice I also read this month). The story has so many layers that were represented by this adaptation, and it have left me wanting to read the novel itself. I’m quickly falling in love with this series.

Manga Classics Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Manga Classics Sense and SensibilityI received a digital edition of the Manga Classics Sense and Sensibility from Udon Entertainment via NetGalley. Unfortunately, of the three Manga Classics I’ve read this month, this one is my least favorite. Maybe it’s because this is my favorite Jane Austen novel and no adaptation can make me happy, but the plot is so complex that I felt a lot of nuance got lost here. Also, the illustrations just don’t work for these characters; Marianne is a mass of curls, and Col. Brandon looks weathered, Edward looks too young and pretty, while Eleanor doesn’t look as dignified as she should. There’s so much cut out, which I’m sure was necessary, that the character’s actions barely make sense after the edits. The Steeles were pretty well done, in all their awfulness, but whole characters were chopped out of the plot. Maybe it’s the novel that doesn’t work for this format; perhaps Emma will have to be grounds for my final verdict.

Rude Student Haiku

Rude, young male student,

He walks into my class, but
Never says hello.

Kind of tortured it to get the syllables. It’s been a super long time since I posted, but I just stopped in to check the comments/reply. It looks like a lot of my teaching stuff has been helping people out, and that’s great! I’ll try to make some time for more literary analysis soon; my schedule it very wonky this semester, so I definitely have the time.