Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Personal Update

My incision - seven days later
To finish off this thread -- I had my parathyroid surgery last Wednesday -- background here. It went well, with no complications.

The adenoma on one of my four parathyroid glands -- a benign tumor -- was relatively large: 32 mm x 15 mm x 10 mm.

The resident surgeon took a picture of it -- it looked like a piece of liver -- but hasn't sent it to me yet. She's busy, and was working a 30-hour shift when she saw me.

Within 15 minutes of the adenoma's (and gland's) removal, my PTH hormone level -- which controls the amount of calcium in one's blood -- dropped from 255 to 23 (in some units no one ever cites; picograms per milliliter, I think). The normal range is 20-60. So they didn't need to check out any of my other three parathyroid glands.

(Aside: no one in medicine ever seems to know the units of measurements. I only asked a time or two. In the evening I needed some oxygen, and the nurse gave me "three liters," but she didn't know if it was per second, per minute, or per hour. (It was per minute, I figured out later, after I realized it was a rate, not an absolute amount.) Like theoretical physicists, they set all units equal to one -- but for every individual measurement! But they all know what they mean and what numbers are normal, so it's all good.)

I had general anesthesia -- I joked to my anesthesiologist I was going to try to resist her drugs. She laughed, and I lasted about 4 seconds. But it was an easy recovery, unlike some I've experienced in the past.

Do I feel better? Perhaps -- it could be too soon to tell, and I'm almost scared to conclude one way or the other. I'm sure I have less of the crummy feeling I wrote about, most of the time, but then it wasn't present all of the time either. It will become clear over a month or three, I think (and one of my doctor's said). But I am optimistic, and if I had to decide right now I would say there's been an improvement.

But, as I wrote, I had to have this surgery for reasons not just because of how I feel day-to-day, but to prevent further bone loss and kidney stones.

The care I received at OHSU in Portland was excellent -- I couldn't have asked for better care. (And thank you too, President Obama, for the ACA.) Everyone who treated me -- the surgeon, the resident, the anesthesiologists, the operation room nurses (except for one), and the post-op nurses -- were all women. Their care was everything I could have asked for, and I am so happy I found my way to them. (My last three primary care doctors have all been women, too, by choice -- I think women make better doctors. So is my dentist. In any case, I find it more easy to open up to them and more comfortable around them.)

So I'm optimistic about my health, for the first time in a few years. Thanks for all your good wishes. I need to get back to earning.


  1. Good luck on your recovery.


  2. Best of luck on your recovery, David.



  3. Wish you a speedy recovery and hope this fixes the symptoms you had.

    When I switched to a paleo diet, now mostly just a grain free offal diet, I had noticed that all those little ills I thought were normal or just getting old, were actually not normal. And I now get a tan, which I interpret as having higher vitamin D levels (in Europe we do not continually test everything as long as there are no problems, thus I do not have numbers).

  4. Anonymous10:09 AM

    Best wishes on your return to health.

    Anthony Watts