Minus the Thymus: How I Survived Thymectomy

Since people are asking what happened to me during the days I was in the hospital, I decided to account every detail of what happened. Okay, maybe not ALL the details, but some of the things I remember.

After enduring the crippling symptoms for almost a year, I was finally diagnosed of myasthenia gravis in 2012. It has also been confirmed that I have thymoma, so my neurologist told me thymectomy is necessary. I have to admit, I was scared big time. I prayed for a miracle, that this unwanted mass inside me would just dissolve on its own. It was hard to believe that this little mass of fat (they said it looked like fat, I haven’t bothered to check) maims me by weakening all the muscles in my body, especially if I have severe infection (thus, myasthenia gravis). Anyway, my miracle isn’t bound to happen, at least not yet. I figured God has a different plan for me.

So after talking to my MG friends who have undergone thymectomy and learning about remission now enjoyed by most of them, I finally agreed to it, and talked to TCVS (this is in the Philippine General Hospital). The surgeon called me on a Tuesday, asking me if I was ready for thymectomy the coming Friday (yes, it was that fast). A part of me was still scared, but somehow, I was relieved. I imagined all the things I could do (I love to eat and go places) if  I experienced remission after thymectomy. Reluctantly, I said yes.

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I was admitted the next day, and underwent some lab tests, including CBC which resulted to a low hemoglobin count. This didn’t postpone the surgery, though. I prayed so hard that everything goes well, and I even made the prayer before surgery my mantra. Then the big day came – I was wearing only a hospital gown when I was carted away to the operating room. Everything was bright, and my heart thankfully managed to slow its beat. I felt relaxed, seeing the doctors looked relaxed as well. When I was already on the operating table, one of the surgeons told me that she was going to put me to sleep. She put something in my IV and when I opened my eyes, there were a bunch of faces surrounding me. 
“Elizabeth, wake up. It’s over.”
“You can speak.”
It took me a moment to realize what was going on, that I was already in the recovery room.
“I wasn’t intubated?” were the first words that came out of me. 
“No.”
Then I heard some hard beeps which created agitated voices. 
“Ma’am, relax. You’re BP just went up to 200.” 
I wasn’t sure how it happened, or why, but I managed to relax. My consciousness came and went, barely noticing the spotlight beside me because I was chilling cold and the nurse feeding me meds through the tube in my nose and occasionally wiping my super oily face (okay, he was cute, too). They also took my x-rays and then, I was carted back to the hospital ward where I was originally admitted.

Packed with pain killers and morphine, I felt like I was left with no other choice but to sleep. I wasn’t even able to personally thank my blood donor who went to my cubicle after the procedures. Although I was wide awake when the consultant went to speak to my mom. He said that the surgery went well and that blood transfusions weren’t necessary. On the second day after the surgery, I wasn’t fully aware that I was already expected to be able to get up and sit on my own, while a couple of tubes were still attached to my surgical wounds. Then one of the doctors asked me to cough, and I did frail attempts because, well… it hurts. The next thing he did was he pulled me up from my bed and tapped on my back, forcing me to cough some more. When he left, that’s when I felt that excruciating pain through my chest, like I was being cut in half. The pain was more intense when I try to breathe, and so I held it until one of the nurses put something to numb me from the pain. I had some slight fever after that, and I also slept some more. I swore myself that I was never gonna move until the tubes were taken out.

I kept my promise to myself. Several minutes after the last tube was taken out of me, I finally went to the bathroom. My recovery felt faster than I expected, and for that I was, and am thankful. My mom never left me – she was supportive and too attentive to whatever I needed during my perioperative period. The doctors and nurses were also superb. They attended to my every need as promptly as needed, and were very friendly. I guess it also helped in speeding my recovery.

As I write this, I am so amazed that God has once again allowed me to survive another ordeal. Now I look forward to the years when I no longer fear about intubation. I think of the many days ahead when I would feel strong and healthy without taking Mestinon (myasthenics’ wonder drug). They said thymectomy does not guarantee total remission and healing of MG. But I know my faith says otherwise.

God is good. He will heal me. And all the others like me. 

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