On Monday morning the kids left for another adventure with Pops & Nana. A couple weeks ago, Nana called me on the phone and said they were going to drive down to Arkansas to visit everyone and asked if the kids could come along. I think if my stress level at the time could be measured on a scale of 0-10, it would score an 11+. So, it literally took me only a second to think it was the best idea in the history of forever.
I went to see the surgeon last Tuesday and he was incredibly nice. His office is downtown so Mike and I rode the Metro into Washington. It only took about an hour and a half from door to door, including the few minutes before we realized we were walking down I Street in the wrong direction. So typical of us – every journey requires a U-turn at some point.
This Friday we are going back for another consultation to discuss the specifics of surgery and, since the kids are gone, we’ll get to stay downtown for lunch and make a day of it. I’m looking forward to that.
Back to what the surgeon said. He made his diagnosis purely from the physical exam. He’s been doing this for 35 years and has done thousands and thousands of thyroid removal surgeries. My first impression was of trust (he looks like a happier version Wilfred Brimley), so I could see why he didn’t even need to look at the ultrasound. He said the tumor was big (“not huge”) and is pressing up against my windpipe, but he assured me that I wouldn’t suddenly have difficulty breathing or swallowing, like I told him I was fearful of. It’s just an uncomfortable lump and these things grow incredibly slow.
He told us a story of a patient who had one as big as a potato. He knew about it for 25 years before he finally decided to have his thyroid removed.
Mike & I listened to an easily understandable lecture of thyroid nodules, thyroid cancer, and the options of treating them. He agreed that the biopsy results are reliable - he believes this is indeed a benign adenoma – but even if there are some cancer cells found in the pathology after it is removed, then so what. No radiation or chemo is needed, and I can go on with no worries that it has spread elsewhere.
Because it is benign, I can go years and years before having it removed. There is a need to have it removed, but he didn’t use any scare tactics to get me on the operating table any time soon; in fact, he used the phrase that I was kind of dreading. “Do it if you feel like it.”
Meanwhile, he suggested I go home and relax after knowing how I’d been stressed out the past few weeks. So we followed doctor’s orders and told the kids we got good news, and that we would celebrate with milkshakes later that night.
And that’s about the time when family memories were soon to be made. Mini insisted we celebrate with party hats while dancing to Kool & The Gang.
The next few days I wondered how much worry and anxiety played a part in my symptoms. I can honestly say that I was thinking of my nodule every waking moment since July 15th, when my doctor called with the ultrasound results. I tried so hard not to.
Following the appointment with the surgeon, however, there have been glorious gaps of my days when I haven’t even thought about it. Glorious gap = an hour or two. But it’s an improvement.
I have made the decision to go ahead with the surgery, and the sooner the better. The lump is all-too annoying, regardless of it being benign. Every doctor has said it has been there for years, yet I can’t even comprehend that. Before I knew it was there, I had no symptoms at all.
Wow. What a summer. So you see how I didn’t even have to hesitate about the kids going away for a week?
Bless you, Pops & Nana.