My Thyroid Surgery Experience at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

“How great it is to be alive!”

These words went through my head when the nurse tried to wake me up after surgery while I was still in the recovery room. I wanted to open my eyes wide so badly cos’ I had no clue whether I was in the ICU, in a critical condition, had my right hand side thyroid removed because of cancer, or having any complication of any sort from the surgery. I wanted to lift up my hands to reach out to my neck. Or rather I just needed a slap or shove (just kidding!) from someone to tell me that I was indeed regaining consciousness and that I wasn’t in a dream or coma.

Seconds later, I heard a reassuring voice approaching me. My doctor said the operation went really well. The lump was successfully removed, my windpipe problem was sorted and the pathologist had came back with good news – I was cancer free ๐Ÿ™‚ How relieved I was. I wanted to burst into tears but I couldn’t even utter a word or open my eyes properly because I still felt so drugged from the GA.

When I was finally pushed back to my ward, I could see silhouettes of people and hear familiar voices. I felt my husband holding my hand and I knew I was indeed back.

Prior to my surgery, it had been a really stressful time. My doctor had warned me of all the possible risks and complications. I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up or that I would wake up knowing I have cancer or that I would have no voice or would have to breathe through a hole in my neck for the rest of my life. These were just too much. I had broken down in tears so many times not because I was afraid of dying or suffering but I really couldn’t bear leaving behind my husband or be a burden to him.

I was actually very worried for John on the morning of my surgery because he would be all alone in the hospital worrying while waiting for me. Boy was I glad that MS and C came by early to lend support, not just to me but to John as well. I thought I would be nervous while I was being pushed on the wheelchair to the operating theatre but they followed me and chit-chatted along the way. Made the atmosphere a little less daunting and I was surprised at how much strength and courage I could muster in that seemingly short period of time because three of them were just so steady and confident and that definitely rubbed off on me too.

When I fully regained consciousness when I was in my room, I was happy to see John, MS, C and Godma too. All had sat there for hours waiting for my surgery to be over. I was so thankful that they did that and I was sure that really made a difference for John because even though he didn’t say it, I knew he was afraid and nervous just like me.

I thought I would take this chance to share my surgery/hospital experience because it truly exceeded my expectations. This was my second hospital stay (my first was at Mount Alvernia when I had ulcerative colitis) and I was blessed with an experienced surgeon, a wonderful anaesthesiologist, a warm and friendly operating room team and a really caring nursing team too.

I was initially seeing a specialist at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital after discovering a big lump on the front of my neck but the waiting period was just unbelievably long. And I was at the stage of having ‘suspected cancer’ after an ultrasound scan showed negative results but I still had to wait for weeks to get my biopsy done and honestly speaking, I didn’t even have anyย confidence in my seemingly inexperienced doctor who couldn’t even answer my questions professionally (and intelligently). Hence I decided to go for the private route.

I recalled having met this senior consultant, Dr Christopher Goh, who had previously treated my mum (for vertigo/imbalance) and my dad (for growth on tongue) at the Singapore General Hospital years ago. He is now in private practice at the Novena ENT – Head & Neck Surgery Specialist Centre located at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital. Swapping doctor was the best decision made.ย I was very inquisitive and asked a lot of questions but he handled my case professionally and told me everything that I wanted to know so I could understand my situation better. He even explained to me the whole surgery procedure without overlooking any minor details. Best thing was, I saw him on a Monday and got my results for my biopsy on the same week on Friday and then I was scheduled for surgery the following Saturday so the whole duration took only 2 weeks. If I had stayed on at KTPH, I was just about to go for my biopsy on the same week as my surgery.

The Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital was very much like a hotel. I had to go to the Concierge at Level One to get a queue number to settle admin/financial matters at the Business Office and then they had the Concierge to escort me to my room.

Thyroid Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

What I really liked about this hospital was how quiet and private the corridor was unlike the other hospitals I had been to that were always busy and noisy with a lot of people hanging around. Every room had its own blood pressure monitor machine parked right outside the door so the nurse didn’t even have to drag the machine from room to room or bed to bed during rounds.

Thyroid Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

And this was how my room looked like. It was a Class A Room category (approx. S$418/day for room charge only) which was also the lowest category of all rooms in the hospital as there were no 2-bedder or 4-bedder rooms at all. Room amenities included 46″ LED TV, individual temperature control, in-room safe, free wi-fi, mini fridge, bath amenities, daily housekeeping, free local telephone calls and Japanese-style bidet toilet seat.

2015-08-01 11.02.43

View outside my window

The next higher category of Single Room (approx. S$640/day) was similar to Class A Room in terms of room size but it had extras like premium bath amenities, welcome mini bar set, butler service and a more comfy lounger sofa without a wooden piece in the centre so any accompanying person who’s staying overnight can make use of the sofa as a bed. Not a big deal actually because John stayed overnight and was able to sleep on half of the sofa (it was quite wide and long) with his legs on the high back chair next to the sofa. The remaining room categories were for the more luxurious suites.

Thyroid Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

When I was back at my ward after surgery, John took a picture of my incision that was ‘beautifully’ done as commented by many. I also had a catheter on the right hand side to drain off blood. The incision was done on a natural crease of my lower neck just above the collar bone. After removing the left hand side thyroid with the lump, it was sent to the pathologist who would then do a quick specimen test to check for malignancy because that would determine if my right hand side thyroid would need to be removed. Thank goodness the lump was benign so the incision was internally stitched followed by surgical glue on the outside to reduce the possibility of ugly scarring.

On the first day just after surgery, my voice was really hoarse and even whenย I gradually regained my voice later in the day, it would be exhausted rather easily if I talked too much. I couldn’t open my mouth big and I had problem chewing or swallowing so I could only take small sips of water every now and then and soft diet meals. I had no energy or strength to move my weak and almost numb upper body so John had to help whenever I needed to sit up.

Thyroid Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

By the next morning, I could already lift my arm freely and comb my hair (speaking of being vain, lol – I just wanted to look presentable before any visitor came!) and take a selfie of myself. Still needed help to move around but at least I was more energetic than the day before.

Thyroid Surgery at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital

This was the draining of blood which doctor said should be around 50-60ml. Because GA had worn off by the next day, I could feel the pain more and just had to depend on painkillers.

2015-08-02 08.32.12

Painkillers had really become my best mates. I thought my tolerance for pain was considered pretty good. I had kidney stones two years ago and that pain was like 11/10. This surgery pain was probably about a 7-8 but it got better with each day.

2015-08-01 11.35.11


There was a different menu for every day so I could pick whatever I wanted to eat. But anyway even though I picked out ‘exciting’ meal choices, the doctor instructed the nurses to feed me with only porridge ๐Ÿ™


So I had chicken or fish porridge for every meal though it came with a dessert like carrot cake or cheese cake. The only time I had a normal meal served was on my last day’s breakfast where I chose Raisin French Toast with Berries Compote and Honey but it was too hard for me to chew. Anyway, the hospital food didn’t appeal to me that much so John ended up eating everything for me, lol.

2015-08-02 10.23.38

Godma made porridge for me which was like the best meal of the day cos’ she woke up at 5am in the morning just to prepare the pork broth and cook the porridge for longer so that it was softer for me to eat.


Thank you MS & C for the yummy Windowsill pies, S for the kiwis & blueberry juice, HS for the lovely bouquet, D for the very moist and soft Prima Deli pandan cake, J for the Glace green tea tiramisu cake & Quiznos subs and of course Godma for making me ็ˆฑๅฟƒ็ฒฅ and also bringing food for John who had tirelessly looked after me. I am so blessed to have all of you in my life and no other words can describe my deep gratitude to each and every one of you who has given me so much support, encouragement, laughter and strength. I love you guys!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Not forgetting Dr Goh, Dr Ng, the operation room team and nursing team who had taken such great care of me too.

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And also to my housekeeper and butler who had ensured my room was in tip top condition and that my meals were all promptly served.

What more could I ask for? Thank you all ๐Ÿ™‚

2015-08-14 12.52.02

And this was the report I collected from Dr Goh’s office on Tuesday. Cancer-free ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I also did a scope and the results were good – no damage to my vocal cords. I would have to come back in 2 months’ time for a blood test just to check if my other half thyroid is functioning properly cos’ if not, I would have to be put on hormone therapy for the rest of my life.

The Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospitalย was really a 5 or maybe 6* hospital-hotel or ‘hospitel’ that catered to mostly foreigners and also dignitaries from the region. I met Indonesians and Thais who purposely flew to Singapore just to seek medical treatment here. Comparing the rates with other private hospitals, this hospital is definitely the most expensive in Singapore. It’s what I call the ‘Hermes Birkin’ category of all hospitals in Singapore, lol. Seriously, if Dr Goh’s clinic wasn’t here, I wouldn’t even have considered this hospital to have my surgery because it was really EXPENSIVE. I’m sure my eyes nearly popped out when the final bill was presented to me and it was only for a thyroid/neck surgery! My modestย health insurance plan would probably only cover a portion of my entire medical bill. But with everything ending on a good note, I couldn’t deny that what I had paid for was for a world-class medical team and facilities, impeccable service, speed and what I appreciated the most – privacyย – so I could recuperate in peace.ย On the other hand, I’m going to upgrade my health insurance to a more premium plan just so I can be more prepared in future in case I have other health issues that require me to be hospitalised *touchwood* again. Older folks like to say it’s better to die than to fall sick in Singapore because medical fees here are just crazy. It really helps to have a good health insurance plan and I think all parents should buy insurances for their kids while they are still young and healthy because by the time you hit a certain age and you have a certain condition, that particular problem might have to be excluded from your insurance and the premium will also be much higher. Better be insured than sorry – you never know when you need it because any illness can strike us at any time.

With this, I shall conclude my final chapter of my ‘ordeal’ which made me gain another level of wisdom and strength. Some things in my life were previously missing but others had replaced them. I’ve learnt to love my life even more and would take even better care of myself and my body. I’ve decided to let go of the unpleasant past and embrace my new life with hope. I’ve learnt to deal with death and grief and that I’ve understood that it’s all part and parcel of life that everyone has to go through with. We all will die one day and it’s only a matter of early or late but regardless of whether life will be short or long, we should live each day like it’s the last day of our life and treasure what we already have instead of thinking of we do not have. I’m still counting my blessings and I cannot be thankful enough to life for having me go through what I’ve gone through. It is with this episode that I can now tell myself – I LOVE LIFE. And I will treasure it for as long as my life permits.

Goodbye my pain. I just want to live life once again. ๐Ÿ™‚


  • Linda says:

    Well – glad to hear that all went well..your incision actually is very clean and looks like it will heal very well! And I’m so relieved that you are cancer free and that you still have your voice and all…wonderful news indeed…

    Glad to have you back Geri!! All the best, Linda~

  • C Steen says:

    Oh that is wonderful news! Thanks for letting us know. Still praying .

  • jiahao fr amkpss says:

    My dear friend… i am glad you are fine…

  • buttercreem says:

    Get Well Soon!

  • Have a nice recovery!

  • bentodays says:

    Speedy recovery! I have known several colleagues who have gone through similar operations, am glad you are recovering well!

  • coconutcraze says:

    Happy to know that everything went well! Get well soon!

  • Maryanne says:

    May I know how much was your surgery (unsubsidied)? Thanks

    • Geri Tan says:

      About 20k for the surgery (one side thyroid removal + 2 night stay) excluding pre and post consultations/procedures. Do note there is no subsidised rate as this is done via doctor in private practice and in a private hospital. If full thyroid removal is required, cost will be higher. It’s best that you consult the doctor directly and he will quote you accordingly.

  • Mei says:

    Thanks for your insightful blog post. I will be going for the exact same procedure with Dr Goh as well next week and I am feeling super nervous. Can I know how long it takes for you to recover fully after the op and did you end up having to take the synthetic hormones in the end? Am so worried about the op as I didn’t really seek any second opinion so I’m wondering if I’m doing the right thing by removing a perfectly working organ albeit one with a relatively big nodule =( I would really appreciate your input. Thanks!

    • Geri Tan says:

      Hello Mei, I hope the surgery goes well for you. I’m sure Dr Goh and his team will take good care of you so don’t worry too much and focus on your recovery after that.

      I didn’t exactly take note of how long I took to fully recover. One week after the surgery, I was already up and about and could resume my normal routine but I would take painkillers at times to cope with pain in general. During recovering stage in the next few months, I would still feel a bit of pain in the neck every now and then if I overexerted myself (like if I lifted something heavy). By the 4th month, I was back exercising in the gym and lifting heavy weights.

      My thyroid function is fine even though I only have one side of thyroid left so I don’t need to take the hormone therapy. I do go to the polyclinic every 6 months to do a thyroid function test just to make sure everything is fine.

      I’m sure Dr Goh has already advised you that besides removing the thyroid, there is no way to remove the nodule separately. Plus he can only do the lab test after removal of the nodule. Most importantly, we have to rule out the possibility of cancer so thyroid function or removal of a healthy thyroid is really secondary. Just look at it from a different angle.

      Please take good care of yourself. Remain calm and be positive – that would really help in recovery. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • NEE says:

    Care to share about how much is the surgery cost?

    • Geri Tan says:

      About 20k for the surgery + 2-night hospital stay (excluding pre and post consultations and procedures). Do note this is for partial thyroidectomy so if full thyroid removal is required, price will be different. Also, this is based on last year’s pricing, it’s best to let Dr Goh assess your condition and have him quote you accordingly.

  • Gilian says:

    Hi Geri, I have a benign nodule on one side of my thyroid. It’s tested to be benign (for now). I will be doing the surgery to remove one thyroid gland with Dr Goh. Just wondering if you felt any difference after the surgery… Did removing one thyroid gland affect you at all? I read online that people suffer from memory loss, hair loss, dry skin, weight gain among other things… And I am really worried that will happen to me. Do you still do regular checks to see if your thyroid hormone levels are within the normal range? Did one side of your neck become larger due to the remaining thyroid overcompensating? Also, do you recall when do you feel more normal? Can jog or lift heavy objects.. Would like to see your scar if its possible

    Sorry if I ask too much questions!
    Will be doing my surgery with Dr Goh in about a months time ๐Ÿ™

    • Geri Tan says:

      Hi Gillian, I didn’t feel any different after the surgery and yes I do go for my thyroid function blood test every 6 months or so (as part of my health screening anyway) just to make sure my other thyroid is functioning well. So far so good and I don’t have to take hormone therapy. Those side effects that you read about is more like hypothyroidism which happens to some who have had one side thyroid removed (and the other remaining side doesn’t produce enough hormones) but that should be put under control with hormone therapy. You can only find out when you do blood test after the surgery. Whether you will have hyper- or hypo- thyroidism, it is not as ‘terrible’ as what you’ve read online – those stories can be over-dramatic and exaggerated. I chatted with Dr Goh a lot about this thyroid thing before the surgery and he had given me a lot of professional advice in this area so go have a chat with him if you’re really unsure or worried.

      You can read my comment above about my recovery stage.

      My family members who have had the same surgery almost had no scar. Just looked like a crease along the neck. For me, as I have sensitive skin and eczema, my scar didn’t heal very well and so was quite red and thickened even though I was very careful at looking after it. Dr Goh did offer an aesthetic shot to help improve scar appearance but I didn’t go for it because I’m perfectly ok with having a scar on my neck which I call it my ‘battle wound’. If you want to know how obvious it looks, go to this blog post http://www.springtomorrow.com/2016/02/06/j65-hotel-jen-tanglin/ and scroll to the bottom where my pic is. You can see that the scar is pretty obvious on my neck and it’s still the same now except it’s not as red.

      Just remember, everything else is secondary. Most importantly is that the nodule is indeed non-cancerous after the lab test verification and that you focus on your recovery thereafter.

      Good luck with the surgery and take care! I’m sure you will be in good hands.

  • RCT says:

    I an scheduled to do the same operation with Dr Goh.. Just wondering how is the scar? Can share sone picture?

  • Ebi says:

    Hi Mei just wanted to find out if u had bought an integrated shield plan for private hospital before going for this surgery? I wanted to know how much do I have to fork out on my own for such surgery. Thanks

    • Hi, I did not manage to upgrade my health insurance plan (it was a very old basic plan that I bought from NTUC Income many years ago) in time before the surgery because it took place within a short time so I had to fork out most of it in cash after deducting medisave. You have to check your policy plan or with your insurance provider/advisor to see how much can be covered. Also, if you’re thinking of going Mount E Novena too, you’ll likely be asked to place a 20k deposit (if your insurance provider cannot be guarantor) in the event that you might require ICU services due to complications. All the best.

      • Ebi says:

        Thanks Geri.. I’m also seeing Dr Goh this week. Hope the cost doesn’t scare me and hopefully will be able to get most of it from my current insurance plan.

        • Hi Foong Yee, Dr Goh will work out the surgery cost with you and the hospital will also advise you on the charges accordingly so most things will be made very transparent. Just a tip – you can change the hospital to another like Gleneagles (i.e. have your surgery done by Dr Goh but at a different hospital) where overall charges will be lower than what Mount E Novena charges so if your insurance plan can’t cover you for much, it’s an option to consider.

  • fk506 says:

    Just so I understand. You had a benign nodule that was removed on the basis it “could” be cancerous ?

    • I had a nodule that was compressing my windpipe so the affected thyroid had to be removed regardless if the nodule was cancerous or not. The removed thyroid had to be sent to the lab for immediate examination while I was in surgery to check for malignancy as that would decide if the other thyroid had to be removed as well. My ultrasound scan result prior to this showed signs of cancer (abnormal calcification) for that particular thyroid that was removed hence cancer was initially suspected. A biopsy couldn’t be done to determine if there was truly malignancy as the big protruding growth was ‘unknown’ at that stage and it wasn’t recommended to ‘poke’ or ‘burst’ it with fine needle without finding out what it is. The only way – surgery.

  • TT says:

    Thanks for the sharing.

    What is the size (cm) of your thyroid nodule?

  • Audrey Han says:

    Hi I will be going for the same op by Prof Chris Goh next week. Can I check how do you go toilet with the draining bottle? It doesnt seem to have a place to put/rest it from the toilet (basin a bit far). When or how many days can the bottle be removed?

    • Hi Audrey, I just held it in my hand. No problem at all. But if you’re feeling wobbly from the GA or not 100% well, have your family member or nurse to help. My bottle was removed the following day evening as my blood was draining properly 50-60ml. Doc said normally within 2 days.

  • Lee Ke Li says:

    Hi there! My mom will be admitted to Mt E Novena very soon for her thyroidectomy surgery due to cancer. Just want to check with you, how much cash did you have to pay after basic insurance claim and medisave deduction? And how many nights did you stay in the hospital? Any MRI or CT scan done after the surgery?

    • The hospital and doctor should advise you on this as they will have to provide you a breakdown of total estimated charges. Mine was a partial thyroidectomy with no complications so it was very straightforward. Only stayed 2 nights – I requested to be discharged as pain was tolerable and I was recovering fine. No MRI or CT scan required. I can’t remember exact amount paid in cash (maybe 12-13k range). It’s better that you check with your mum’s insurance provider on how much she can claim and then calculate a more accurate cost with that.

  • Audrey Han says:

    Thank you for your reply. I had my op and discharged after 3 nites stayed. I put the 2 bottles in my hosp kimono 2 side pockets. For Ke Li information, my total hosp bill at abt 28k for Thyroidectomy.

  • Hui Tiang says:

    Hi Geri, I am going for my thyroid surgery in Sep 17. Reading your blog on your surgery experience has made me more positive. Can share with me your diet after your surgery and how long it takes for you to resume your normal diet?

    • Hi Hui Tiang,

      For lunch and dinner, I ate mainly homemade pumpkin porridge with pork bone broth for about a week after my surgery. But I was also able to eat ‘soft’ things like bread, steamed buns or pandan cake in between meals so long they didn’t require me to open my mouth too big (just make the food into smaller bites) or chew too much or too hard. After that one week, I was pretty much back to normal with my eating. However as a precaution, I still avoided seafood and eggs for another 1 week or so.

      Please continue to stay positive. Wishing you all the best with the surgery and also a very speedy recovery. Do let me know how it goes and feel free to drop me a note if you have any question about the surgery or post-surgery recovery phase.

  • Hui Tiang says:

    Hi Geri, thanks for your response. Will definitely stay positive so that I can have a speedy recovery.

  • Christy says:

    Hi Geri, can I check with you how come your doctor said “it wasnโ€™t recommended to โ€˜pokeโ€™ or โ€˜burstโ€™ it with fine needle without finding out what it is.” Is your nodule a cyst or more of a solid mass?

    • Because the lab test can only be done when the affected thyroid is removed so then they can determine what kind of mass it is and whether there is any sign of malignancy. Poking the growth without knowing what it is may cause it to burst and if it is ‘cancer’, there will be further consequences if not dealt with care.

    • Everyone’s case is different so it’s best that you seek advice from the specialist to know more. I can only share from my own experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jolene says:

    Hi Gera, may I know whatโ€™s Dr Christoper Goh full name and contact number. Wanted to seek his second opinion on my thyroid case. Thank you!

  • Jolene says:

    Thank you!

  • Jenny says:

    Hi are you doing fine without your partial thyroid? I read your blog and went ahead to have the surgery by Prof Goh, my GA Doc is Dr Ng! ๐Ÿ™‚ they are wonderful. I am 1 week post surgery half thyroid taken out and Im thinking / worried about the medicine.

    • Hello Jenny, hope you’re recovering well from the surgery. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had done regular blood tests after my surgery and my TSH level remained stable (within acceptable range) until last year when it soared up. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I had symptoms like fatigue, feeling cold, constipation, weight gain, depression and so on. I still go for regular blood tests at the polyclinic and have to take a thyroxine tablet every morning. It was a bit tough at first to overcome the symptoms but they got better with medication. Just focus on your recovery for now and don’t worry too much. Take care!

  • Jennilin says:

    Thanks and good to know you are well! Are you adjusting well already to the med and weight is under control? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m not sure if the med totally helps me because I have other health conditions too and on other medications. And it’s just tough losing the weight I have gained but that’s not important as I’m doing my best to eat well and exercise too. So I’m good, overall. I’m sure you will be too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jenny says:

    Thanks understand! God bless and you stay well ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Felic says:

    Hi gera, check with you why need to do the scope as you mentioned :
    And this was the report I collected from Dr Gohโ€™s office on Tuesday. Cancer-free ? And I also did a scope and the results were good โ€“ no damage

  • Felic says:

    Thank you.

  • Felic says:

    Hi geri, how many day your report out after surgery? TIA

    • You’re referring to the lab report to check for any malignancy after the thyroid is removed? On the same day during the operation. Because for my case, the lab report was urgent as it would determine if my other side of the thyroid needs to be removed too in worst case scenario of cancer. It’s better that you check with the doctor because everyone’s situation is different. Are you going for thyroid surgery?

  • Felic says:

    Ok, thank you.

  • Zhao yuen says:

    Hi, thank you for your sharing. My dad also had a salivary gland surgery with dr. Goh. He is really kind and care for my dad and us. Everything went well. First consultation with dr. Goh, he explained about the whole surgery process and put his passion with us. He tries to comfort us and said “everything is good. Don’t worry”. After the surgery, he even came to our room to inform us about the surgery went well and what to do next and comfort us (my dad still in the operating room and we need to wait him recovery before they sent him back to the inpatient room). This is really touching that he personally came to inform us after the surgery (I think he knows that the family of the patient is worry and wandering what happened in the operating room).
    The biopsy result was quite fast. My dad’s surgery was on Friday evening, and the result was on the next Wednesday. I and my whole family feel so gratefull. Thanks to God, everything went well ?
    It was really expensive in Mount E. It costs us about 28-29k for the surgery and all hospital fees. But I think we made the best decision to entrust Dr. Goh to perform the surgery. He serves the patient and their family with heart.

  • Christina says:

    Hi, I will be meeting Dr Goh for my op too. Is it painful the moment you are awake from your surgery? I am very afraid to go for the surgery.

    • Nope, not painful at all when I woke up. Even when there was pain later on, it was more of a tolerable dull pain which was easily solved with a panadol but again my pain threshold was probably higher. Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re in good hands. Focus on your recovery and take good care. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Christina says:

    Thanks you Geri. Is it common that No ECG needs to be done or to meet the anaesthetist before the Surgery day? I have also read some bad reviews on Mount Elizabeth hospital years back. Hence I am very stress up and worried. Please share he you overcome all those fears you have about surgery and GA.


    • Hi Christina, I don’t remember having an ECG done before surgery. Not sure if that’s the norm – probably necessary if you have certain heart conditions. Also, I only met the anaesthetist (Dr Ng) when I entered the operating theatre. She was very professional. A very nice lady to chat with. We all knew the risk of GA but she knew exactly what she was doing and she did mention to me how she would start with small dose (but sufficient to prevent me from waking up during surgery), etc because it was my first time undergoing GA. We also chatted about personal stuffs like asking things about myself, my job, etc. Then Dr Goh came in and chatted with me a bit and the next moment I just drifted off to sleep and the surgery was complete. I didn’t feel extremely sleepy or giddy when I woke up from GA so I thought Dr Ng did a great job. Well, I can be quite optimistic and pessimistic at the same time (haha!) in a way that I will always think of both negative and positive outcomes i.e. if I survive or not survive the surgery. So basically before the surgery, I sorted out things like insurances and came out with a list of to-dos for my husband to follow up should I not survive the surgery with details to my bank accounts and other finance matters. I told my closest friends about my surgery in case I don’t get to see them again. So I just did everything I could so I could kinda ‘leave without regrets’. It sounds exaggerating but I rather do it than not do it at all. On the other hand, when I was at the hospital, the environment of the hospital, the service standards there, etc really made me feel at ease. I felt like I was very well taken care of. Most importantly, Dr Christopher Goh was fantastic. He addressed all my questions and doubts with full professionalism unlike the first doctor I saw at Khoo Teck Puat. I understood the whole process of the surgery and I knew what could be the worst case scenario, etc so I was both mentally and physically prepared for surgery. I had full confidence in Dr Goh. And of course, my husband and my close friends went to hospital on the day of my surgery to lend me support so it was great to see them when I opened my eyes. My husband was my pillar of strength and was always there for me and that really helped a lot too. I had similar fears and stress like what you’re experiencing now but I chose to face up to them – accept the fact that life and death are part and parcel of life – but I was able to convince myself that the surgery would be a great success because I had my loved ones waiting for me and I shouldn’t let them down. And I also focused on thinking more about what I wanted to do after my surgery, where to go for holiday, what good food to enjoy, etc. Focus on the good things in life – that’s essential to push us on. So Christina, don’t worry about all those stress and fears – it’s normal to go through that. I mean, it’s a major operation. But also look at it from a different angle – that you know you are doing this because you have your health issue under control (and that you’re doing something about it – that’s already very courageous!) and that you know from this episode onwards, you’re so going to enjoy a healthier and longer life with your loved ones. ๐Ÿ™‚ When is your surgery?

  • Christina87 says:

    Thanks Geri for sharing your experience with me! My surgery will be on June 18.

  • Hi G, your post is super informative. I have my op scheduled in one months time at Mt A. I have both corporate insurance and personal H&S, so hopefully the out of pocket costs won’t be too much, fingers crossed. ๐Ÿ™

    I hope the pain won’t be too bad too as I have low threshold for pain. Going to the toilet and eating seems tedious in the first two days. I will ask if I can shorten the stay, assuming recovery is good; my specialist did suggest it could be a 3-4 days stay.

    But I will take this period as a break I wanted to have since some time ago.

    • Hi, thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚ All the best for the operation and I hope all goes well for you. Just keep some pain killers on hand (I’m sure your doc will give you some) to deal with the pain when it comes. And yes, eating can be a little difficult initially so you’ll need a soft diet that doesn’t require too much chewing. Keep positive and focus on your recovery. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sehr_ethereal says:

    Thank you for replying. I hope you are dealing well with your hypothyroidism. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • So far so good ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve been seeing an endocrinologist, taking blood tests regularly and eating thyroxine tablet every day. Under control ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care and best of luck again!

  • uhongye says:

    Hi Geri, my wife is going for tumor removal surgery on right thyroid on coming month, the tumor as big as a fist size. After tissues sample test, its not cancer. However, Doctor suggest to remove. This surgery will be conducted by Dr Christopher Goh, who same doctor as yours. I got your post by keywords: Dr Christopher.

    After reading your post, my wife felt more confidence to Dr Christopher and calm on this surgery, but she got concern on the stitch mark after surgery. How’s is your stitch mark after 5 years from your post-surgery recovery phase? i hope this question is not offensive and i don’t means it.

    Looking forward to hear you.

    Have a nice evening. Cheers.

    • I’m sure your wife is in good hands and that the surgery will turn out all well.

      I had a pretty obvious surgical scar after the surgery as I have really sensitive skin (and eczema) that scars easily even with normal spots break-out, scratches/cuts or insect bites. Dr Goh did suggest that I do an aesthetic jab then but I didn’t go for it as I wasn’t overly concerned about leaving behind a ‘battle scar’. I was more concerned about my thyroid function which was more crucial and ‘cumbersome to deal with’. Lived with it and got used to it. Now 5 years down the road, the scar is somewhat like part of my natural neckline. Only those who know I’ve been under the knife recognises it as a scar. Others don’t even notice it anymore. Your wife would need to work her own expectations around this so I can’t really advise much on this as I’m completely alright living with a surgical scar. Dr Goh will be the one to advise you guys whether to get the jab or not to reduce the scarring etc. Plus, the end result varies for every individual. Doing the jab doesn’t guarantee a beautiful neckline either – at the end of the day, it really depends on how our skin heals. Luck too, probably.

      I wish you both the best. Focus on the recovery and stay positive. Take good care!

  • uhongye says:

    thanks for replying, it means a lot to us.
    wish you all the best, stay positive and cheer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Priscilla says:

    HI Geri,
    Your post is so informative! I read it a few times and also all your replies to all the questions everyone asked over the years in the comment section. Thank you!

    I came to your post while googling Dr Goh. I am having a Partial removal (due to a large nodule on my left that’s pressing on my windpipe) in 2 weeks time with Dr Goh and it’s my first ever surgery so I am very anxious. Reading your post provides alot of comfort and useful information. While I understand your experience was several years ago, but just wondering if you still remember if your pain level (you mentioned 7-8/10) – was it more like sore throat due to intubation, pain on the incision area or was it muscle pain due to the positioning of the surgery? Also, wondering if you can sleep on your bed/ flat when you get home or do you need to elevate yourself? I read from other forums that most ppl were advised to sleep more elevated to reduce swelling. Did you need to ice your incision area?

    Last but not least, beside this post, I enjoy reading your other posts about food too! I love food. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hope to hear from you. Meantime, hope you are doing very well managing your hypo issues.

    • Hi Priscilla,

      Thank you too ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad that you found this post informative as well.

      Your condition is pretty much like mine – large nodule on the left thyroid.

      My pain tolerance is quite high so I might have underestimated the actual pain or discomfort but all in all, it wasn’t anything impressionable because there wasn’t one time when I felt extremely in pain whatsoever. The incision area was perfectly covered so I didn’t really feel that there was a large ‘cut’ on the neck or that it felt like splitting. Maybe I would say it was more like a pulling/cramping kind of soreness/discomfort on the neck area? The throat would definitely feel sore once GA wears off. In fact, it will take a bit more effort to talk but that went away for me by the next day.

      I didn’t have any problem sleeping flat – it was more comfortable for me than propping myself up (when I had visitors). Only issue was that I couldn’t sleep on my side and I’m more of a side sleeper, lol.

      Nope, I didn’t ice the incision area.

      I think every individual is different. Really depends on your skin sensitivity, healing rate, etc.

      Don’t think too much and just focus on the recovering when the surgery is over. All the best and good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Priscilla says:

    Thanks for replying, Geri and for the additional info! Really appreciate them.

  • Char says:

    Hi Geri,

    Came across your post and itโ€™s really informative! I had my partial thyroidectomy a month ago and unfortunately my hormones level are below the normal range at this point and I had symptoms like fatigue, anxious, weight gain, loss of appetite and feeling overwhelmed at times by the surrounding. Doctors mentioned I have depression from the symptoms I have. Iโ€™m still not sure if the Low thyroid hormones are the cause of the depression. Currently on TCM treatment to treat the hormones and depression. Do you feel better immediately after taking the thyroxine medication and no longer felt the hypothyroid symptoms?


    • Hi Charlyn, I’m in a very similar situation as you – hypothyroidism + depression + anxiety. I’ve been on thyroxine and anti-depressants for quite some time now and I feel both medications complement each other very well in helping me cope with all the symptoms. I still get symptoms every now and then but as I’ve already gotten used to them, they don’t affect me mentally and/or physically as much as before. I wouldn’t say I felt better immediately after taking thyroxine but it did work hand-in-hand together with the other medication that I’ve having – so it’s all about creating that equilibrium – and then learning to manage the symptoms as time goes by. I had the same question too before – whether low thyroid hormones are the cause of depression but what I gathered so far was that it could be either way round. I highly recommend you see the doctor regarding your depression and anxiety and have that sorted out as well as that could also contribute to hypothyroidism.

      I hope all works out well for you. Take care, stay safe and feel free to drop by for a little chat ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Char says:

    Hi Geri,

    Really appreciate your quick response! I feel comforted to know that Iโ€™m not the only one going through this. Itโ€™s so new to me. I had a reactive right thyroid nodule (which I wasnโ€™t aware too) that gave me anxiety attack suddenly and I had to remove it cause itโ€™s pressing on my windpipe. Thought that it will normalised back after removing, but recovery is another whole new level now that the hormones level are Low. ? glad that you are managing it well now and Iโ€™m hopeful this phase will pass too after hearing from you. May I check if you have to take thyroxine and anti depressant on a long term? Or have you tried stopping the antidepressant medication?

    Hope to hear from you


    • Hi Charlyn, yes, I did discuss with my doctors before to reduce my meds dosage and to wean off completely but in the end, the symptoms (fatigue, low energy level, sadness, crying episodes, etc) would just keep coming back. I figured as my medications were not considered high dosages and that they did not affect me in any other adverse way, I would continue to take them. I still do my blood test every 6 months religiously and I must say my thyroid hormone level has been very stable (I feel pretty much normal too like pre-op times). The funny thing was, when I stopped taking my anti-depressants, my hormone level became rather erratic and that was why I deduced both medications were necessary to keep me going. However, every individual is different, so what works for me may not work for you. It’s best to discuss with the docs and find out the best way to deal with it. It does take several attempts of trial and error (adjusting dosage, etc) so don’t get discouraged, stay positive and I’m sure all will turn out well ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Charlyn says:

    Hi Geri,

    Glad that you found a balance in the medication and all work out for you! I have done a blood test recently and my thyroid hormones seems to be back in normal range but Iโ€™m still feeling tired once I cut down Xanax/ diazepam and I had one episode of anxiety attack ever since the surgery. Decided to give antidepressant a try (lexapro) and Iโ€™m having so many side effects. Feeling more anxious, tired, heartburn and Iโ€™m only on a small dosage. ? may I check if you have any side effects when taking the anti depressant Med?

    • Hi Charlyn, I started with Prozac initially but that left me with severe constipation which ultimately caused fecal impaction (stool stuck in colon) and I had to go A&E because of the pain. Thereafter the doctor changed my med to Lepax (escitalopram) which worked best for me as it didn’t give me any side effects at all. Last year, my med was changed to Sertraline which made me feel dizzy and nauseous all the time and hence I decided to go back to Lepax (most expensive but most effective for me) again. Never had any problem with Lepax so far. These are all SSRI type of antidepressants so you may want to talk to your doc to have a change of med as it seems like the one you’re taking may not be suitable. But do make sure you have taken it for at least 3 months as the body/brain may take a while to adjust itself to the med.

      I don’t know if this helps you but altering your lifestyle and diet at the same time can probably make you feel better too. A daily walk around your neighbourhood (at moderate speed so you can sweat it out and huff and puff a bit) and cutting down on carbs/sugars. And do a quick, relaxing meditation at night before you sleep – I highly recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mountain Meditation which you can find on YouTube.

      Give it a try ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Char says:

    Hi Geri,

    Hope all is well with you. I happened to find your blog when i was searching for Dr Christopher Goh. I saw Dr Goh for a second opinion and did a biopsy and I need to do surgery to remove the whole thyroid hopefully by next mth.

    Thank you for sharing your Thyroid surgery experience. It is really helpful and provided more info and assurance that I would be in good hands under Dr Goh.

    I shared with him your blog and he actually remembered you!

    I called my insurance co NTUC Income and realise that they cannot confirm if they can cover the surgery till after the surgery & efiling is done for their review on the claim. Was it the same for you?
    Unfortunately, Dr Goh is a non panel doctor under NTUC Income so need to pay more. The estimate bill is so scarily high.

    Best Regards

    • Hello Charlotte,

      Thanks for stopping by my blog. Glad to hear my post had provided you with more confidence and assurance. I hope your surgery goes well and that you’ll have a speedy full recovery.

      With regards to insurance, I didn’t have a premium health insurance plan before going for the surgery so I couldn’t claim most of the surgery/hospitalisation fee. If I remembered correctly, I could only claim about a quarter of it and the rest was paid in cash and via Medisave. It was very costly indeed and that was like 7 years ago. I’m sure yours would be way higher because of inflation/rising costs and also your surgery is a full thyroidectomy whereas mine was a partial one. The total claimable amount was only made known after some time after the surgery. But NTUC Income did help me submit a letter of guarantee to the hospital prior to the surgery so the deposit can be waived.

      It all depends on your insurance coverage.

      Hope everything goes well for you. Send my regards to Dr Goh when you see him next time!


  • Char says:

    Thanks Geri. Appreciate your quick reply and thanks for your kind concern. Hope I can secure a surgery slot in Nov. All the best to you also : )

  • Char says:

    Thanks Geri. Greatly appreciate your prompt reply, kind advice and concern. Hope to secure my surgery date within Nov. All the best to you too!

  • Charlotte says:

    Thanks Geri for yr prompt reply. Appreciate yr kind advice and concern. Hope to secure surgery date in Nov.

    All the best to you too!

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