Post Surgery Healing
It is a long time since I wrote about my thyroid surgery. I had planned to follow up sooner to share more of what I learnt.. how I practiced what I preached for all these years. Having helped thousands of people manage to improve their function and support their healing with movement, post surgery and injury here was my opportunity to experience first hand my own advice.
Surgery is really an elective injury, obviously for some medically valuable reason. So the healing process I've been through is really not different to the healing of a cut on your skin or a spained back or ankle. There are some differences with healing of bone, muscle, ligaments and skin which I will point out, but basically there is either regenerative or fibrous repair of the tissues.
So first up there is bleeding. The anaesthetists told me because of the size of the tumor it was pretty messy, but it was all mopped up quite effectively during my surgery, as I came out with no bruising and not too much swelling. I was well sewn up with internal and external dissolvable stitches with a not to be removed bandage on top (that stayed on for about 10 days, keeping the dirt well away from the wound). It is important to say that swelling is important; it is the evidence of increased circulation which is necessary to tidy up and rebuild the area.
The timeframe of this initial period will vary depending on the tissue injured and the amount of damage, but is usually around 7-10days, which was the case for me with primarily skin and fibrous tissue damage. I woke up after surgery with an ice pack already tied around my neck and it was 10mins on 10mins off for my waking hours, for about 3 days and I continued to use it quite regularly for up to 2 weeks. As you will have seen in my YouTube vid's right from the start movement was a crucial part of my healing. In this early stage mainly it was an important self treatment to decrease swelling and to ensure mobility in new tissues. (Otherwise they heal up looking like a brillo pad, which distresses treating physio's a lot!)
Now it can be a little scary to move an area so recently operated on. I've spoken to friends that have had the same surgery and didn't move enough early on and (my surgeon) confirmed that my early mobilisation had me looking like I was at 6 weeks already at my 3 week review.
From about the 3 or 4 day, the body is well into the rebuild. When my dressing were removed at 2 weeks, there was already a very neat scar line. It was red (still increased blood supply) as the lay down of stronger and stronger tissue would continue for a few months. In bone and muscle healing involves the lay down of new specialised cells (eg. Bone or muscle cell), rather than fibrous scar tissue.
My self treatment during this phase was progressing movement and function in the area, so as to guide the lay down of new tissues. By about 6 weeks I was pretty much back to normal movement and most people don't even notice my neck, unless I point it out. And finally words of encouragement. Cells within the body are constantly be destroyed and replaced. Previously injured tissues also undergo a constant turn over allowing improvement of most injured areas indefinitely. So I can now based on expeience and not just intellectual knowledge, preach the benefits of yoga.