|Group picture with the first 3 Thyroidectomies of the year.|
|One of our ladies with a larger goiter before surgery getting |
excited when the anesthesiologist came to assess her.
When the first thyroidectomy patient returned to the ward at the beginning of general I was on shift orienting a new nurse. Our thyroid patients come to us with similar stories. One day the gland in their neck starts to grow into a goiter and they are helpless to stop it. How we feel about our physical appearance is something women all over the world struggle with, but add to that a cultural superstition that a deformity is a curse, a punishment for wrong doing, or the sign of a witch not looking as everyone else can be even more socially isolating. Many of our women come to us hidden under their scarves so the world cannot see.
Left untreated these thyroids can continue to grow until they literally strangle a person to death, but removing the goiter does even more than saving her life. Removing a goiter hands a women her life back; it gives her hope that she can be accepted, free of this burden she has been carrying. This is why on days like this first day back to general surgery one of my favorite things to do is to hand our patients a mirror. Even when sleepy and uncomfortable everyone has the same reaction, and this first patient was no different. I handed over the mirror and as she looked at her flat neck for the first time, she smiled with surprise then breathed a sigh of relief as her whole body relaxed. She held onto the mirror even as we worked and life went on around her. That mirror showed her that yes, what she hoped for is tangible.