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.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

And no I don't mean the white stuff... though that has been falling in copious amounts lately.

What I mean is that just as my surgeon walked into the room Jeph and I were waiting in, the fire alarm went off and we were told that we would have to evacuate. So, off we went, following the surgeon because hopefully he knows where he's going in the maze they call the Foothills Hospital.  We make it to a coffee shop (yay!) and find out that this wasn't a fire drill, but that they had to evacuate that one specific and very small area of the hospital because the roof had caved in, almost hitting someone.

Well.. if they had gotten hit at least they were in the right place...

So we waited, and waited, and wandered the hallways, coming upon elevators and stairwells where you could have taken a drenching, albeit very cold, shower from all the melted snow pouring down.  Eventually we found our way back to my surgeon and found out that they were pretty much cancelling all clinics for that day.  Yay.  Luckily I was able to take him aside and ask him some of my burning questions, one of them being how long would I be off work.  He said basically that as long as I don't do any heavy lifting I could be back in 2 weeks.

2 weeks?? After a major surgery where they are removing my thyroid that produces energy hormones?? Is he on crack?  I asked my regular doctor about this after and he just laughed.  He at least realized the need to heal after a surgery.  Even he agreed that I'll probably need 4-6 weeks to recover, if not longer because of the synthroid(?) that we have to figure out dosage for and for the radiation treatments I will most likely need.  Gah..  I'm not in a hurry to get back to work after this.

Anyways, the surgeon does seem like a pretty good guy, in spite of this, and I've been rescheduled for Friday, so I get to miss that whole day of work.  Not only is he checking my neck again with ultrasound, he's doing what I'm calling a nosescopy.  In other words, he numbs my throat or something, sticks a camera string into my nose to look down my throat, and when he gets to my vocal cords I say "Eeeee."  <shudder>  Though, talking to my good doctor, he said that they actually had to do this to each other in medical school and it's not that bad.  He said it's a little weird going in, but after it's there it basically feels like a really big booger or a loogie!  LOL!  That makes me a lot less afraid of another weird test being done to me. :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Big "C"

Just a month ago I was diagnosed with the big "C."  Cancer.  Much rather have the big "O," but mind you most people would.  It's Thyroid Pappilary Carcinoma which is what I've been deeming the "popular cancer."  It is the most common and most survivable out of all the types and if I was to pick any cancer I could have, I guess it would be this one.  Still is a major pain in the neck (ha ha).

Surgery is on December 9, 2010, so I'll be home for Christmas!  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Neck!!  Right now, this is less than three weeks away, and I'm finally starting to stress a bit.

It's funny.  Funny "snort" instead of funny ha ha.  I'm actually more afraid of the surgery than the actual cancer.  I think it's because even though I don't want it in me, the cancer is truly a part of my body.  Surgery means foreign instruments going into my body. <shudder>  I have a large enough problem with needles, let alone scalpels!  People keep saying that the surgery is the easy part because I won't even know it's happening.

Exactly the problem.

I have a hard time giving up control of my body to something.  I've never done drugs and I rarely drink just because of that fact.  So for me to let that go, have someone put me under to do somewhat unknown things to my body, then pump me full of drugs before I wake up so I don't feel the pain, and then I'm still not truly in control of my body?  That's what terrifies me.  It's the unknown.  I don't know how I'm going to react to the drugs, how they're going to make me feel (other than probably very shitty).

The other unkonwns that are stressing me out right now are things like I don't know how long I'm going to be off work.  I know it's about 4-6 weeks recovery from the actual surgery, but after that??  I don't know if I'll need radiation of some sort, because who knows if they'll get it all in surgery <shudder>. 

Honestly, even though it may mean they didn't get all the cancer in the surgery, I'm truly hoping for about 3-4 months off of work.  I need the time for myself.  I want to write, play games, catch up on the movies that havn't been opened for 4 Christmases.  I need this time to figure out what level of synthetic TSH I need to be on because I will no longer have a thyroid in my body.  Also, if I don't get this time, I'm not sure my energy levels will be up enough to keep up with two rambunctious boys who like to make it "snow" in my living room. :) 

I go see the surgeon on Monday and my family doctor too.  Hopefully some of these unknowns will turn into knowns so I can continue on with my "stop stressing and start living" normal mindset.