Monday, November 29, 2010


Well, I had my rescheduled appointment with my surgeon on Friday.  I'll talk about the risks he went over in a second, but first, the nosescopy.. <dum dum dum>.

First they sat me in a chair and had me say "Aahhh" while they sprayed noxious freezing agents onto the back of my throat.  Trying not to gag up my non-lunch between spritzes, I quickly grabbed a kleenex to wipe my eyes.  Then the surgeon brought out the black wiggly worm with the light on the end and lubed it up in prep to go up my nose.

Now, I'll just mention right now that as of the day before this, I had caught a cold, so passageways are not exactly open...

They got me to sniff to see which side of my nose was more open, and the right was clearer.  Squeezing my eyes shut as I knew that there was no way I wanted to see this, the surgeon then started gently shoving the light worm into my nostril.  Problem... I could feel it scraping inside. Because I could feel it, I instinctlively clamped my nose muscles (yes, there are some; I'm one of the few people that can plug their noses and breathe through their mouths without having to hold my nose).  Of course, clamping those muscles made it scrape more.  This is me panicking.  Clamping onto Jeph's hand with my own, I tried to relax but it just wasn't going to happen.  Finally the surgeon took out the probe saying that he couldn't through on the right side and would have to try the left.

So here we go, trying again after a quick break to wipe my eyes.  This time, I can feel the pressure but no scraping.  Oh, thank the Gods that the freezing worked on the left side at least!  As the probe pushes it's way through, I start gagging a bit, not only because the probe is there, but for the fact that it's pushing all the mucus down the back of my throat.  Pleasant.  The surgeon gets me to swallow a couple of times, take a few deep breaths and then he's there.  Another couple of deep breaths, followed by saying, "Eeeeeee," and he's done!  And it's a lot faster to drag that light worm  out than it is to put it in!  Turns out that both my vocal cords work, yay!

Now, details on the surgery.  Turns out that I'll be in surgery for 6 hours, 3 hours for the total thyroidectomy and 3 hours for the modified radical neck dissection which removes the lymph nodes on the left side of my neck. 
Some of the risks with the thyroid removal: 
  • I could have nerve damage to my vocal cords and be permanently hoarse.  This would super suck.  I wonder how my singing voice would be if this happened?
  • I could end up with hypoparathyroidism if all 4 of my parathyroids don't recover.  Not terrible, just would require a lot of tests and follow up for my entire life.
That's not so bad. 

Risks for the lymph node removal, a little scarier:
  • I could have nerve damage to my spinal accessory nerve, which is what helps me shrug, turn my head, etc.  If this is damaged then eventually I'd be in a lot of pain all the time because my muscles would shrink with disuse.
  • If the cancer is too close or attached to it, they will remove my jugular vein.  I guess this isn't so bad, because it would just be on one side, and the surgeon said this is okay because the blood just finds another way down.
  • Lymphatic leak: since they have to tie off everything for my lymph nodes this may happen aroundthe lymph node drainage duct. If this happens, I guess it's easy to fix with more surgery.
All of these risks are about in the 1-2% mark, so not bad.  Not death, and I don't plan on dying anyways.  Hmmm.. the risks aren't as scary once  I write them out, though I'm still terrified of having to go through surgery.  It's only a week and a half away.  I had a bad night last night because of this.  I expect to have more before I go through it.  Thank the Gods I have Jeph around; he is my rock.  I cry on him and he doesn't melt away, and he said that he will be there with me as long as he can when they put me under, and he'll try to be there for when I wake up.  I asked him if he had any worries and he honestly answered that he has no worries at all.  This calms me immensly.  If I didn't have him I'd still have to do this, but they might have to hold me down to do some of these things.

I keep getting told that I'm the strongest woman people know, and that I'm brave, etc.  Brave is only doing something despite being terrified of doing it.  I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other because it's the only way I'll get past this.

1 comment:

  1. It isn't being brave if you aren't scared. It's okay to be scared. I think you're supposed to be scared. So, feel the fear, and do it anyway.

    I am glad you have someone there to hold your hand. And surgery is a little scary, but it's not as bad as you fear. Almost nothing is.

    Hang in there. I am rooting for you, electronically.