Saturday, April 24, 2021

It is my desire to be done with all this!

It has been a crazy month here in the Kingdom.  I am sure that I speak for not only myself, but also for the Prince, Happy, and Doc as well as all my support dwarfs and persons... ENOUGH already!  I am a horrible patient. I am not okay with needles.  I dont not convalesce well. 

I knew even after the high of the great thyroid/growth report, cancer free, that I was going to have one more "'procedure" to endure before my "check engine" light could be put out for what I pray will be years to come!  

On April 22nd, I was scheduled for a small basal cell skin spot removal.  A recent appearance, caught early, and in my mind, a very small issue that could and would be easy enough to handle. 

Except no woobie.  No support person.  And I would be awake and alert for it all. Needles would be involved.  I, even though I desire not to be this person, would loose my marbles. 

So, the week prior to my procedure, knowing how I panic about needles, I called to confirm my appointment, to make sure that the doctor knew where he was "digging" since I did not desire my forehead to resemble the Wack-a-Mole game, and reminded them about my terrible irrational fear of needles.  

After a bit of a run around. By run around I mean, they would not call in the happy pill to my pharmacy for me to pick up and take while the Prince drove me in to the appointment as that is not their protocol. I come to find out it was also not something they would even consider budging on.  They assured me that upon my arrival to the office 30 minutes early they would give me an Ativan, and my anxiety would dissipate within 30 minutes. 

First, I had to assure them I had transportation to and from the appointment, and had to sign a consent form.  ALL of which I was most willing to do!   I arrive at the appointed time.  I wait to be called back to sign my form and get my pill to calm my jumbled nerves, and realized as the minutes ticked by,  it was as if  I never had this conversation, or three similar ones, with two nurses, prior to this appointment, about my irrational fear of needles.  

By now, as I am waiting, I am waging a war in my mind, about doing this without the Ativan, and just with my sloth - as my life size woobie, was shunned from accompanying me, as the time that the pill should be starting to take affect, is passing by.  They have already indicated this process could be multi step and last most of the day.  

Finally I am called back to the office, and they begin prepping me for what is to come.  I remind the nurse that I am terrified of needles, she soothingly says, "it will be okay" and tells me the doctor will be in to mark up my forehead in a few minutes.  

Okay, I want this done.  Meds or not, I want this over so I can go home.  It seems NO one is remembering the meds, and at this point I do not wish to waste a half hour waiting for them to kick in. 

So I convince myself I can do this without the meds.  About that time I overhear them discussing the fact that I did not get the Ativan and did not sign the consent and now, if they give it to me I have to wait 30 minutes.  No, nope, not happening.  Just get me done and on the way home. 

The nurse comes back in and says very humbly, "I am so sorry that we did not look closer at your notes.   Do you want the Ativan now?"  I told her no, that I was just going to "suck it up" and that they would just have to deal with stressed out me, because as badly as I did not want any of this to happen, I also did not want any delays in the process.  I wanted to do this and get out as fast as I could.  

The doctor comes in, marks my forehead. Just a small round dot.  I feel relieved. I convince myself this will be simple.  I can do this.  I hop off my chair and grab my sloth, and mentally prepare for what is coming next.  

The staff was delightful.  I almost did not feel the prick or the burning, or my pulse racing, or my heart pounding, or feel my arm pits sweating, could almost keep my feet still, and my groans silent, nor did I recognize I was twisting the life out of poor Mr. Sloth.  It was almost, like everything I feared most in life was not happening.  But it did. And I survived. I wasn't happy. But I also wasn't vomiting. 

The first pass was so fast. For that I was so grateful.  Off I go to the waiting room with a bandage to wait on pathology.  Some are already waiting, some are already going back for a second pass... and I am praying that I can be done with this one pass.  So I read.  I pray.  I text.  Waiting...

As I assess the folks around me, I feel like I am just but a baby.  All my co-waiters were easily 25  + years older than I... As I am processing this information and wondering at 80 if I would care about basal cell on my ear... I hear the nurse call my name.  

We head back the hall and she says that the doctor has to make another pass at the site.  He did not get it all the first time.  I feel like vomiting, because now, in addition to an already open wound, they have to numb it again (with another needle) and he has to cut more from my head.  

I have Mr. Sloth.  I have a distraction, talking to the nurse about true crime.  But this time I can't focus.  My hands are shaking, and I literally feel ill.  Mr. Sloth is taking a beating, and my feet are moving back and forth causing me to move in a way that only God knows how that nurse injected the correct spot(s) and that doctor did not hack of more than he needed. 

Bandage returned to the site, back to the waiting room.  I am now pleading with the Lord to please make this last pass be the one that has the clear margins, because I know I have to go one more time to be stitched up, and if I have to do more passes with the doctor cutting out more tissue, I may literally fall out of the chair.  (and why did it not occur to me ask for that stupid pill while I was waiting, I have no idea...) 

My prayers or desperate pleas, at this time it is a fine line, are answered.  Clear margins!  So back I go again to get injected more, so that the stitch work can begin.   

Now during all these instances I have kept my eyes so tightly squeezed shut that when I open them to stand to leave the room,  they hurt.  This whole stitching you up thing... gosh closing my eyes and wringing the life out of Mr. Sloth, was not enough to distract my mind or my ears.   

And this seemed to take forever.  4 internal stitches and 10 external.  Snip, tug, snip, clip, tug, tug... ugh - I feel like I may faint.  My hair is caught in a cap, the tape is caught in my hair.  Everyone is super nice and are trying to distract me, but I am unable to think clearly at this point, sort of just barely able to breathe.  

At last I am free to go.  

Just like that - four hours gone, and cancer gone!  For those of you keeping score that is two cancer free diagnosis's in two weeks time!   I am grateful!  I am!  Beyond grateful!  Overwhelmed actually.  

I get the stitches out in a week.  I am avoiding mirrors because the area is much larger than the doctor initially identified, and all wounds, mine and others sort of freak me out.  But I am cancer free.  To my knowledge at least.  

Here is to the worst series of tune ups in the world, or at least in my world, and prayers that I do not have any other issues for maybe another 10-15 years (or more). 

Just a little bump in the road as it were, to remind me of what is important.   To keep my focus on the Lord.  

To live, love, and serve my family and others as if there are no guarantees for tomorrow.  To be appreciative of modern advances that extend our lives.  That find and assess concerns early and for treatments that are maybe uncomfortable, but produce results that are amazing.  

For the knowledge that even if the results had been not so favorable, that technology has options for next steps. For my youth. (As I assessed in the waiting room 51 is the new 30.) For my overall good health.  For friends and family that step up, encourage and pray for me. 

Mostly, for my life size woobie, the Prince, that takes such amazing care of me.  I would be lost without his gracious and unending love for me.  So here is to the next 30 years Mr. Lingle.   Hopefully maintenance free, but if  there is more medical issues along the way, there is no one else I would rather have caring for me!  

You Just Can't Make this Stuff UP!  

PS :  Mr Sloth, needs some repairs.  I hope I am as good of a "stitcher upper" as my surgeon was!  He has a loose leg and a large hole in his bum that he is loosing his stuffing from... Sorry... 

Friday, April 9, 2021

The call came in...

Today, as I was winding down day 3 of living with my new status of "cleared to return to life as normal" with sensitivity towards my bodies signs and signals, I heard my phone ring.  At a glance, it was not a number I recognized, but I felt I should answer it, which I did,  and when I did, there was no one there.  

Call it spotty receptions, or bad cell service... I answered and said hello three times, and when no one responded I hung up.  

I went back to what I was doing, which was nothing but puzzling (for you that are concerned) and  within 10 minutes got another call from the same number, which I thought was odd... however, I found myself reaching out and grabbing the phone to answer yet again.  

Anyone that knows me, knows that every time my phone rings from an unknown number, I wage war within myself regarding to answer or not to answer... 

I say, "Hello?"  and the voice on the other end asks if this is Michelle.  I respond, "yes, Michelle Lingle, how can I help you?"  The voice identifies himself as my surgeon and asks if I have a few minutes to talk.  I respond that I do.   

Again, for those of you that know me, you know that I do not google things, disorders, people etc and throughout this entire discovery/testing/surgical removal of the growth in the right side of my thyroid, I never googled a thing!  

I proceeded to and through each step of the process with the facts that were presented, trusting the team that was leading me through this process to be informed and capable of doing their jobs.  Trusting that the Lord, who is the author of my life, to give me wisdom and direction regarding the decisions that needed to be made at each juncture in the journey.  

I am not going to lie, after my follow up this week with the surgeon, who if you did not see my post, was thrilled with my progress, it really sunk in how young he looked.  So when I got home I googled him to find out a bit more about him. While he is a Harvard Medical School graduate, he has been a practicing surgeon for less than three years! 

Yikes, I let someone young enough to be one of my children cut into my neck... but was quickly reminded of this scripture 1Timothy 4:12: 

"Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."

This man, my surgeon, was compassionate, kind, genuine, thorough, gracious, gentle, truthful, and informative.  Everything you would want your surgeon to be!  Regardless of his age! 

Sorry...back to the point of his phone call.  

Pathology results were in, and did I have a minute to discuss the findings with him?   

I asked him if I should sit down.  He sort of chuckled and said, "you can sit or stand... your preference. "

He proceeded to say that he had just received my pathology reports, and was thrilled to report to me that my large tumor was NOT CANCER!  

To say that my emotions did not over take me, would simply be a lie.  The sweeping wave of relief, was followed quickly by a wave of disbelief leading to my request for him repeat the findings a second time, followed rapidly by more relief which caused me to sob out a choked "Praise the Lord!"  His response?  A hearty "AMEN"! 

He continued to reiterate that he was so happy that we had decided to remove only the right half of my thyroid vs the whole thyroid, which had been my initial response to the tumor.  In full disclosure, he told me that one of my four parathyroid glands were lost in the surgical process. Again, I only need one of those to produce my bodies required calcium and I still have three.   

More findings showed that  inside the right side of my thyroid, there was a minuscule (under 3mm in size) nodule that was identified as cancerous, but because its whole being was removed, I am considered cancer free!  No further testing or monitoring needed!  

I am only seeing a win, win, win!  

So for all of you that prayed, encouraged and prayed some more...Thank you from the depths of my heart.  The Prince and I are humbled to be loved by each of you!  We are grateful for this clean bill of health and the peace of mind that this news brings.    

As I prepared to hang up with the surgeon, I shared with him from my heart.  I told him that both the Prince and I were so impressed with his manner, care and follow through in regards to how he guided us and helped us make decisions along the way, with the baffling information that testing had provided.   

While I am more than overcome with joy that I DO NOT have to do this entire procedure again in 8 weeks,  I know that I would have been most comfortable with him repeating the process, after going through it this first time with him.  

I did joke with him, that it would have taken a large amount of "happy pills" and excessive persuasiveness to actually get me back in that operating room, and expressed again my great joy in not having to do so!  

He thanked me for my kind words.  He told me that I made his week with my words of appreciation.  He told me to have a great weekend.  

What he did not realize is that he delivered to me the greatest birthday gift every.  Monday I turn 51.  What more could a girl ask for?  A clean bill of health?  For sure!!! Yea me! 

The Prince said a few months ago when the wheels started falling off my bus, that I should not be discouraged.  This was just a middle of the journey, "check engine light" that came on.  I needed to spend part of this 50th year of life, caring for myself, so that I could be "tuned up" and ready for the next 50 years!  

This is part of my story.  Part of who I am.  I recognize that this situation could have gone in a completely different direction. I was prepared for that.  I prayed for the this!   I am humbled to have been spared another surgery, radiation, isolation during that time, and a daily medication regime.   

You really can't make this stuff up... and for that I am exceptionally grateful!  Rejoicing in answered prayers !   Happy Happy Birthday to me!  


Thursday, April 1, 2021

Well, that was horrible...

Nope, I am not strong, I just have a strong personality.  No I am not brave, I just do not let things I can't control frazzle me.  Nope, with 100% certainty I can claim that I am a wimp, a wuss, a glorified, oversized sissy.  

This journey started in November. Actually, the growth began as many as 10-12 years ago.   A co-worker noticed a lump on my neck.  I said it looked normal to me, but went home and asked the Prince.  He said he thought it could be a lump, or it could be normal, watch it for a few days and if it does not change call the doctor.  I call the family doctor, and 10-12 days later, I check in to see what may be the problem.  

Well he says, "I can clearly see a lump".  So, off  I go get some tests done that will allow my doctor to make a plan.  Blood work comes back perfect, ultra sounds show things okay, no one is to pressed about any of it, and I am not even put on a schedule to see a specialist until January 20th.  Frankly, I dismiss it from my thoughts, because I rationalize, if it were a big deal, they would be squeezing me into a specialist quickly.  I really do not  think about it again until the 20th when I went to see the endocrinologist for the first time. 

She asks me if I know why I am there to see her.  I reply, " seems I have a lump."  She asks if I have googled it.  I reply, "NO!"  She proceeds to tell me that many people over 50 have these nodules, and that until they become a certain size, they are just charted and monitored.  For me she says the next step will be to have a six needle biopsy of the growth, because any nodule larger than 1.5 cm they like to "keep an eye on".  My growth measured 5.6 cm X 3.1cm X 4.4 cm... just a smidge over the "to be concerned" about size.   

I thinks she sees my complexion pale at the words needle and the number six associated with how many needles.  I explain my irrational fear, she grants permission for my life size woobie to accompany me, even graciously gives me a happy pill,  and we set the appointment for the biopsy two weeks out.  

My life size woobie goes with me.  The whole thing is horrible.  I hate needles.  I hate that I hate needles. I hate that I have no control over this fear of needles.  Mercifully,  it was not a long torture session.  We are done in less than 30 minutes with what she assured me were great samples, and we started the waiting game for results. I make an appointment with my surgeon.  

By late February, there are still no results on biopsy.  The surgery date is scheduled, but the type of surgery is still a mystery.  Whole or half... I'm voting whole, and yet the surgeon is saying let's wait on the results.  If there is a 51% chance or better that the growth is cancer we will take the whole thyroid and do radiation.   

Two weeks prior to surgery the results are in.  30 -80% chance of cancer cells.  Not exactly the helpful statistics that we were looking for.

Here I am Monday morning.  In this photo,  I had yet to realize that I had to do this alone.  I was duped into thinking that my life size woobie AKA the Prince, would be with me until moments before surgery.   He did after all clear the whole day for me...

When I say duped, I  mean, knowing myself the way that I do, I asked at my pre-op appointment  if he, my woobie,  could be with me.  You know, covid world and all. Or did he have to leave me at the front door of the hospital and return 8 hours later to pick me up... they said, and I quote, "every person coming for surgery can have one support person with them."   Well, that sealed the deal for me.  Everything was going to be OK!   I basically skipped out of the hospital that day calm and assured that everything that I would have to face I would be able to do it with the Prince by my side. He's my number one support person!    

I followed all the pre-surgical requirements, fresh bedding, special soap for my nighttime shower, clean clothing to sleep in, no food or beverages after midnight, special soapy shower for my morning shower, more clean clothing, packed my little bag, posted on FB and off we went.  

Check in was a breeze.  The prince and I sat down to wait for my room, and within minutes, the nurse came to collect me.  Insert large eyes above mask here.  Wait, what?  Just me?  No, they said he could come with me to wait.  I get one support person.  He's my support person.   

"So sorry, he can't go with you to pre-op."   Boy, in that moment,  I was thrown off my game.  I stand to hug and kiss my support woobie, ( I mean cling irrationally to his neck) and now I am instantly filled with doubt, and fear...just typing it now, is causing my eyes to well with tears.  We make the nurse wait on us, as the Prince offers prayers for my peace and comfort and for the team that will be caring for me as well as for my surgeon.  One last peck on the cheek and off I go. 

I put on my brave face, glance at my Prince once more, and sense that he also is a bit thrown for a loop.  (Hard to say for sure behind his mask.)  I walk with blurred vision following a kind nurse towards the elevator, attempting to keep up with her small talk the best that I can.  

By the time I am alone with changing instructions, I am quietly sobbing and trembling.  I am not okay.  Having my support woobie TWO floors beneath me is NOT the same as having him there to tie the back of my fancy robe, or to brush my hair up in my nice blue hair net.  I am shaking so badly,  that the nurses assume that I am cold, and they whip out a fancy new gadget that I have never experienced before; a forced hot air, heated paper blanket!  Warmed up, I gathered strength. 

I challenge myself to get it together.  I reset.  I kept on with my plan... get my comfort things around me, read some true crime and text my woobie while waiting for what I know is coming.... at least one needle.  Am I bothered by the potential of them cutting through skin and muscle - no.  But that needle gets me every time!! 

I am happy to say that EVERYONE that came to care for me during this period of waiting was remarkable.  The first woman helped me with my gown and cleaned the surgical area yet again.  

The woman that came to start my IV was super gracious with my irrational fear of needles and we talked through it while I squeezed my sloth, and before I knew it she was done.  (I thanked her profusely for being good at her job! )

My anesthesiologist sensed my rising anxiety and  gave me a little "nip" to take off the edge...

and before I knew it, my surgeon was  there for my tattooing and the initialing of  his artwork!  


In my last few moments of discussion with the surgeon, I made him promise that if he got in there, and things looked even remotely questionable that he would just take it all.  He promised that he would indeed assess things and adjust in the moment if he felt it necessary.  We had determined because of the range of potential for cancer to just remove the right side with the growth and wait on results of pathology, knowing there is a chance I have to have a do-over in 8 weeks to remove the left side as well.

Sooner than I would like, my glasses and comfort items are being collected, and I am being wheeled down hall and to the elevators and finally into my operating room - which lets be honest here, sent my level of fear to a new extreme.  I really could have done without seeing the inside of this beehive of flurried activity.  

I remember Justin asking me if I could manage to get onto the operating table on my own, to which I replied, "of course".  Once on the table, him asking me to place my hands by my side and try my best to center myself on the table, which was super slim in my mind.  Then a wonderful nurse added some pillows under my knees, and another asked me to lie back on a pillow placing my head.... lights out!  

Next thing I remember, is one eye, half open, spying a clock on the wall that read 1:30!   Wow, best nap ever!  Except then I was awake...

From there the rest of this mess is a blur.  I keep asking for the Prince.  My voice is not working well.  I am thirsty, my head is heavy, I have a headache,  I drift in and out of sleep.  They can't get me a room, because there are no female rooms, so I am in holding, in the recovery room. Around 2:30 my surgeon comes and clears it so that my woobie can come to me in the recovery room, for whatever reason, still no woobie do I see.   It will be another couple hours until I see him, when he is waiting in the valet parking garage to take me home, oh the watershed of tears then... 

My surgeon, whom the Prince and I both agree is amazing, indicated that my growth was impressive, and it was a bit of a mess to remove.  I asked him if he took a photo, he said he did not.  I was slightly bummed.  As was my brother.  He said based on the look and feel of the growth, as well as how healthy the surrounding areas looked, he would be very surprised if it came back as cancerous.  In four - six weeks we will know for sure.    

To hear the Prince tell the story, I have acted as if they removed my whole head, set it to the side and did what they needed to do inside my neck,  and then stitched my head back on.  My pain threshold is pretty minimal.  So for about 72 hours I have had trouble swallowing the tiniest of pills, complaining in a whisper about my chapped lips, have had trouble getting food through my teeth,  requesting icepack after icepack, trying out a foreign form of sign language no one has been able to interpret on the first try, being super sensitive to smells, and noises, just being downright cranky and a touch needy,  and adjusting the head of my bed a million times, so much so that I am surprised I did not give myself whiplash to add to my ailments during this time! 

Today, 72 hours after all this crazy,  I am finally feeling so much better!  I do not however, have any desire to do this again. Not in 8 weeks, not in 8 months, not in 8 years.   It is beyond my scope of comprehension how anyone can have or be inclined to Factitious Disorder... you know making one's self sick so you need major surgeries... no thank you! I have had one other minor surgery in my life.  It was also horrible!  

I am asking my praying family and friends to intercede on my behalf for test results that are NON CANCEROUS.  If they could not track down any cancer cells in the six needle biopsy or in the further testing of those cells, and everything inside looks "clean and healthy",  I will continue to pray for this positive outcome, and ask that you join me in that prayer!  Additionally for obviously very selfish reasons, if you missed my declaration anywhere else in this post, I really do not want to do this again!! 

The lesson that I have learned in this, is that even when we care for our bodies, get regular check ups, eat well and workout religiously, sometimes there are just surprises in life.  The story of my life is made from these little surprises.  It was a bit of a reality check that I am not in control in the ways that I think I am. I do however rejoice that I know that ONE that is in control of this and so much more! 

I know that is part of my story is already written.  That whatever the outcome,  God has the details.  My job is to live it out with grace.  If, it indeeds turns out to be cancerous, we do the next set of steps. But be prepared for it, as I will then be requesting prayers for the ability to do this again, without making the Prince and my people nuts, because I am sure knowing what I now know, I will not be so calm for round two.  

You just can't make this stuff up!