Well, that sure is a lot to take in! I feel for you, as the 1st surgeon I spoke with pretty much said the same type of thing (although not quite as abruptly!) I left in tears not knowing what to do. I was fortunate to have access to another surgeon who gave me a lot more confidence in my decision to proceed with surgery which I am very glad I did. Yes, all those risks that your surgeon told you are very real and it is his job to inform you of them. My endo. was pushing RAI over surgery every time I talked with him. His big concern was the invasiveness of the surgery, the various factors, risks. In his mind, RAI was a “no brainer” as he put it. Yet, for me, it wasn't that simple. I have 4 young children including a nursing 8 month old and RAI never sat well with me. That doesn't mean it isn't the right choice for many people, but for me, it didn't feel right. So, I opted for surgery. My endo. supported my decision, but it wasn't his recommendation.
I think, that if you're going to choose surgery, you want to be sure that you are as good a candidate as you can possibly be. Make sure your thyroid levels are stable, take the SSKI drops for 7-10 days before surgery (prescription), if you have any heart rate issues, stay on your betablocker. Have you had surgery before? Have you had any issues with intubation? Some people are hard to intubate, and I could see that if this is a problem you have, a thyroidectomy might be harder on you than on someone else. My mom is someone who has a difficult time with intubation and can't swallow pills bc of where her larynx is located- it happens I guess. If you are a good candidate medically and your confident in your surgeon and you feel that, deep down, this is right for you, then knowing all the risks and willing to take them, move forward with your decision. This is a hard decision, I know. I was really set on surgery, but I still cried, agonized, and worried like crazy. It's normal. Look realistically and objectively at your circumstances (especially how balanced you are thyroid level-speaking) and then decide. Is your endo. supportive of you decision (even if it isn't his recommendation)?
Like I said, I'm really happy about how my surgery went; I was very fortunate. Everything went as well as it could have with no complications. I know not everyone comes out of surgery as well as I did, but I know a lot people do. Hhchong had a thyroidectomy (on the boards here) 2 weeks after I did and did very well, Shirley did great, I did very well, PolishTym (I believe?) did well. So, good outcomes do happen (for both surgery & RAI). Figure out if your'e a good candidate for surgery and then decide. Let us know how you're doing & what you decide on.