Opinion: Column: Can You Spell Thyroidectomy? (Or Ice Cream?)

Opinion: Column: Can You Spell Thyroidectomy? (Or Ice Cream?)

I couldn't before, Mr. Rogers, but now I can. And I even know what it means; 10 days ago, in my neighborhood, I wouldn't have had a clue. Now, not only do I have a clue, I have a date for surgery: Jan. 27. Moreover, in addition to a date (and I don't mean my wife, Dina), I have a time and a place, a list of pre-surgical dos and don'ts, and a few items to buy: a post-surgical healing ointment and a special scrub to help minimize the risk of infection. And of course, I've been advised to wear loose-fitting clothing, perhaps a button-down cardigan will do. If all goes well, I'll be home in my jammies around supper time when my recovery begins, details of which are still a bit sketchy. I suppose I'll have to 'recover' to find out.

Let me amend that last sentence: I'll be on a soft-food diet for five days. What might not jump at you is that I don't eat many soft foods (M&Ms melting in one's mouth instead of one's hands likely doesn't count). More significantly and quite out of my ordinary, my wife, Dina, will be managing and controlling my menu. So far, that menu includes eggs, pudding, apple sauce; all good, but her last two items: spinach and kale, not good at all. I imagine I'll survive the surgery, but given how rarely Dina and have shared meals together over the years, I may not survive the recovery. And though her heart and head might be in the right place, I'm afraid my knife and fork won't be. During the best of times, I'm challenging to feed. After my surgery, I'm likely going to be at my worst. Although I certainly don't look it, food has always been the bane of my existence.

But at that post-surgical point, aren't I entitled? I mean, when I was a little boy and had my tonsils removed, I remember being given ice cream to eat – in bed. That had never happened before – or since, quite frankly. Soft foods. What's softer than ice cream? Why should I be deprived? I have two types of cancer. Yet so far, I don't see ice cream on the list. Maybe Dina's waiting for confirmation from the surgeon that cold foods are just as soft as hot. If true, I think I'm going to need that in ALL CAPS to convince my wife to give in to my indulgences. After all, one's thyroid gland isn't extracted every day, so shouldn't I scream (perhaps whisper would be advisable) for ice cream? Wouldn't it soothe the savage beast that I might be after surgery? Presumably there will be some pain or discomfort and/or side effects from prescription medications I'm obliged to take, so why not humor me; I like to laugh.

Except there's really nothing funny about surgery, other than the old joke: it's minor surgery when it's someone else, when it's me, it's major. So even though I've been told on relatively good authority that a thyroidectomy is not exactly major surgery, it's still me that's being anesthetized and operated on for four hours. And though I'd rather it would be somebody else, I don't see how that would help remove my thyroid gland, which apparently has spread cancer to my neck and a lymph node. I guess if it has to come out, it might as well come out of me. And then we can get on to the business of learning whether I have one cancer or two and perhaps get an updated assessment of my life expectancy. If I had my druthers, I'd just as soon have only one cancer. Two is too much.

That being said/vented, right now, I just want to wake up after surgery and get home. And when I get there, either that night or for breakfast the next day, there better be a pint or two of ice cream with my name on it. I think it's only fair, don't you?