Parathyroid surgery changes lives–in almost all cases.
The vast majority of patients undergo a change in their life and how they feel after parathyroid surgery that is often times described as a miracle. Chronic fatigue and aches and pains are very common in patients with hyperparathyroidism and this almost always goes away. We give back the “joy of life”!
Miracles happen at different rates
Keep in mind the tortoise and the rabbit. People recover at different rates. The rabbit peels out right out of the gate (the patient who feels fantastic the very next morning and can’t wait to tell the world how great they are doing!). They run way ahead of the pack, and when they get near the finish line, they are the loudest and the happiest. Good for them!
Most patients (“the pack”) will notice the difference somewhere around 7-10 days after having a tumor removed. They are not way up front with the rabbit, but they’re surely not trailing way behind the pack where the tortoise is. There is nothing wrong with you if you are in the pack. How about the tortoise? The tortoise is going to get there, too. He’s just going to take his sweet time (maybe 6-8 weeks). So don’t panic if you don’t wake up a completely new person the morning after the tumor is removed. Most people don’t.
Certain symptoms get better at different times. Memory loss, mental sharpness, energy levels, concentration abilities, mood stability – these things typically start to get better between 7 and 14 days, on average. Some people don’t feel any different for a month or two. Think about it: your nervous system has to get used to a normal calcium level again. Your brain has not seen normal calcium levels for years. Remember, this disease occurred over a period of years; some things will take days to get better, but some things may take months to get better.
Bone pain gets better almost immediately–within an hour or two. Clearly, this is the most gratifying thing to observe. Attention all rabbits! This may be you! Fatigue (the number one complaint by far) is 7-10 days as noted above. Hair loss in women takes 6-9 months, but it will get better.
Most people can expect improvements in their blood pressure, so discuss this with your doctors. Many of you can expect to decrease your blood pressure medications (some will be able to eliminate these drugs) over a period of 3 to 12 months. This can take a long time in some people as your cardiovascular system heals. Ask your doctor to monitor you for this improvement and the opportunity to get off some medications. The same goes for heart medications and heart rhythm problems.
Feeling a little weird the first week
You’re going to have hormone shifts in the days and first few weeks after the operation. Hormones are powerful things, and many of them interact with each other. So while you’re having a change in parathyroid hormone, this may show itself in the first few weeks that follow surgery with some strange feelings every now and then. This is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing! No worries, it goes away!
Most people never have any of the problems that we talk about here. Many go out to dinner the night of surgery. Most feel pretty darn good the next day and don’t have any negative effects from the surgery. However, an occasional person will feel “blah” for a few days, or even a few weeks. If you feel bad for a while, just remember we needed to change your hormone levels! As we always tell folks who feel a bit poor or bad for a few days or even a week or two–”We took a tumor out, we didn’t put one in. It WILL get better!”
Most people feel just fine in a day or two
We’ve taken care of tens of thousands of patients with hyperparathyroidism and have seen what happens in the days and weeks after the operation. Most are back to their regular selves within a day or two, and then feeling better a few weeks later than they have in years. Some people take longer. If you are one of them, no worries! You are running with the pack! As we say to almost every patient: there really is no bad news, just good news! You will get through this just fine!