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!  


2 comments:

  1. Sometimes life is very stressful! But I find that hanging onto faith and a prayer always helps. I have had to have colonoscopies a bit more frequently that other people because that type of cancer runs in my dads family. I have lost an uncle and an aunt to colon cancer. The last time I was in for the test it was by far the most eventful. My fear is being but to sleep! I would rather jump off a cliff! It started with the IV. My veins were collapsed from all the prep work so it was hard to get the IV in. God bless the nurse she was trying her best. Once the IV was in I was left to rest. Humm but no the IV was leaking! Back they came to readjust things.God lets hope it is in right! Now it's my turn to be wheeled in. Still awake I was transfers onto the table, body adjusted on my side, rear end showing to God and my country, looking at all of the equipment that I knew was going to be used and THEN the question you don't want to hear from the male nurse standing behind you: Didn't I go to school with
    you??? My response: you can knock me out now! It didn't take much to change my perspective on being put to sleep. God does work in mysterious ways!! I will keep you in my prayers.

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  2. Oh my goodness - thank you for the laugh. You are right perspective is not always brought about in a way that we think it might...but God's sense of humor is fantastic! Once the needle work is out of the way, I really am ok. Being out for me is a well deserved and uninterrupted nap in my opinion, but I do understand that we all have our anxiety points. Prayer, deep breathing and a sloth are my helpmates! Here is to good health for us both!

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