Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's a...

When I found out there was possibly something wrong with me, I ate an entire sleeve of Thin Mints (side note: those Girl Scouts sure know how to make some mighty fine cookies!) Then I cried. And my mind fast forwarded to all of the worst case scenarios...naturally.

At the beginning of April, I went to the doctor for a physical, nothing fancy or odd happening (except for those close-calls during times I knelt for too long and almost fainted...that's a different story...). He listened to my heart, looked in my ears, made me watch his finger swipe side to side, and all was well.

Then he felt the glands in my neck. "Swallow," he said. "Hmm...do it again." He kept repeating this again and again until we completed the process about six times. Then he walked to his notepad and wrote me a radiology request form. "Take this down to the first floor and schedule an appointment for an ultrasound. There's some sort of nodule, it feels like, on your thyroid, and I just want to have a better look."

Oh.

A 'nodule.'

What does that even mean?!

The doctor proceeded to calmly tell me that these sorts of cysts happen all the time, and that they're usually benign, but that sometimes they're actually tumors. Yikes! All sorts of horrible words floating out there (nodule? cyst? tumor?), and me trying desperately to remain calm while he's explaining things. He counseled me not to worry yet. Ok, thanks doc. I'll just hum and skip on my merry way while a tumor could be taking over my thyroid (I tend toward the dramatic in situations like these...).

I went down to radiology where they got me straight in. Gown, gel, ultrasound. Bam, all of this was so weird and so fast. And then it was all over. "We'll have your doctor look at these scans, and he'll get back to you."

Two. Weeks. Later.

(In his defense, I was in Ireland for one of those weeks. Worry isn't as prominent in your mind when you're on vacation, I guess.)

I called the clinic and asked if the doctor had reviewed the scans and what the results were. The receptionist said that his nurse was busy with another patient, but that she'd have the nurse call me. Waiting...hoping it's nothing...trying to focus on work...

And then a call: "Hi, this is Dr. ________. I understand you're looking for your results from your bloodwork and your scans? Well, I'd like you to come in for some more testing, probably a biopsy because one of the nodules on your thyroid looks abnormal." Doctor-speak. Gotta love it. 'Abnormal' means scary and weird. And you know when the actual doctor calls that something fishy is up.

When I got home from work that day, I broke down emotionally. What happens if I have to undergo cancer treatment? Who will take care of me? What will that mean for my work situation, my living situation? What if I can't afford it?

It's amazing how everything in life gets put on hold for two weeks until you find out if your fears will be realized. More waiting. More waiting rooms. Family praying for you. Close friends sharing your worry. Preparing for the worst. Hoping for the best. Trying to be patient, not letting your mind wander to what could happen if the world gets kicked out from underneath you. Joking around during the biopsy so you don't freak out about the five needles they'll be jiggling around in your neck. HAVING A NECK THING. Knowing you have absolutely no control as to how this situation will ultimately play out.

Waking up wondering if today's going to be the day you might find out you have cancer.

Feeling so alone.

And then looking around, realizing that it could be a lot worse. Those were the times I felt most at peace, that really, I wouldn't have to worry about being so debilitated. That life would go on and everything would turn out fine. That I needed to stop being a drama queen and be grateful for everything I did have and the people who loved me.

This last Tuesday, I figured I might hear from the clinic. I kept my phone by my desk at work and nervously kept checking it, just in case I didn't hear its persistent buzz. Lacy and I had just clocked out to go to lunch, and my phone started vibrating in my purse. "IHC Clinic," I said. Shakily, I opened the phone and rushed down the hall and outside, so I wouldn't have to cry in front of my co-workers.

The nurse on the other end of the line was very kind when she told me I had what was called a 'thyroid goiter' (again with the gross words?!), and that they would just follow-up with it from time to time. I asked what that entailed. "Just a blood test once a year."

A blood test? Bring out the needles--I'm ready.

I was so relieved that there wasn't anything wrong. It was almost an audible mechanical whir back to life as I slowly began realizing that I didn't have to face the prospect of surgery. Or taking pills for the rest of my life. I wouldn't have to worry about taking days on end off of work. I wouldn't feel like a burden to my family or friends who would have surely stepped up and helped me through.

And so, as some of my family and best friends get ultrasounds of their growing babies, I give to you--my thyroid:



It's a goiter!

5 Comments:

Blogger Laceski said...

Like I said, I don't even need an emotional trigger to gobble down my own body weight in Thin Mints, so you've got me there. All I need is consciousness...and even then, there's wiggle room.

Working where we work does not help curb the worry. Honestly, every time I have anything, my first thought is "Oh, my god! It's cancer!" Especially headaches. We have a weird job.

So so SOOO glad everything's okay. The goiter looks just like you!

May 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM

 
Blogger Liser said...

I am so glad you're okay! Totally freaked me out lady!

May 10, 2010 at 8:41 AM

 
Blogger Erika said...

GEEEZ Annie, this is what has been going on with you??? I'm so sorry!! I'd be freaking out, too, that would be the worst to just wait and wait and wait and wonder what the heck is wrong. But sounds like it's the best-case scenario for having a goiter. I'm so glad!!!

May 10, 2010 at 10:23 PM

 
Blogger Shawn and Brittany said...

Nice! I love your last comment.

May 11, 2010 at 1:27 PM

 
Blogger Marnee B. Clark said...

Annie, I had no idea you went through this, and I so wish I could have offered some comfort. I went through much the same experience in 2003 ultimately resulting in having half of my thyroid removed. The very good news is that thyroid cancer (if it ever does occur) is one of the easiest cancers to cure. I'm so sorry. I know firsthand how scary it is. Glad you're through it!

November 5, 2010 at 7:54 AM

 

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