Monday, Bloody Monday

So, today was fun. I spent the first half of it mostly naked and hooked up to complicated beeping machinery, laying on a gurney in a brightly lit room full of strangers whom I had given permission to wield sharp instruments in my vicinity. And you thought your Monday was rough.

Clearly, I have lived in The South too long if I am willing to discuss medical conditions in public. But maybe doing so will convince someone else secretly harboring a strange lump or bump or monster under the bed to go get it checked out.

WARNING: Graphic pictures below. 

[As if that’s going to turn anyone away.]

My lump is on my neck. No, I’m not talking about my head. Specifically, my lump is on my thyroid. Highly scientific internet research informs me the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly. Here is mine — the lump is small, you might not be able to see it:

A few months ago when I first noticed the lump, my self-diagnosis involved jumping to the worst possible conclusion. I was sure the tight achy slightly swollen area must be esophageal cancer run rampant and I worried about the best way to inform people of my imminent demise. I have since learned that the wildest part of the imagination is indeed located in the thyroid gland. Who knew?

After having been seen by at least a dozen medical professionals in as many weeks (if you count the blood-letters and ultrasound techs, which I do), the most dire prediction I could get out of any of them was a cheerful, “It’s highly unlikely that it’s cancerous, but if you have to get cancer, this is the kind to get. It’s highly treatable.” They all took great pains to reassure me that it’s PROBABLY NOT CANCER.

Still. There is that slight chance.

So today, after weeks of waiting — not that I mind waiting, I’m a very patient person [ahem] — I had a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) of the lump, which they do with just a local anesthetic. Why yes, I am going to tell you about it, thanks for asking. In preparation, a nurse called last week to ask me a bunch of medical history type questions. The answers to which were almost unanimously, “No.” She seemed happy about that and said I was a good risk. At one point she asked whether I had any religious objection to any procedure they might perform on me. Which gave me pause. Because, you know, it depends on what they had in mind.

She neglected to mention that shortly after checking me in today, they’d be poking holes at random intervals and inserting tubes in my veins while simultaneously monitoring my pulse rate and blood pressure. “Oh, I see your BP is a bit high today.” No kidding. I swear, those machines are specifically designed to make it go straight through the roof. Here I am being stoically irreligious:

They kept emphasizing they’d be using a “very small needle” for the aspiration procedure. I assumed this meant it would be of sufficiently immense diameter they could use it to suck out my tonsils with no trouble at all, if they hadn’t already been removed when I was six. Why else would they tell me I’d have to stick around for “at least an hour” afterward to make sure I’d stopped bleeding? I was right:

I informed the doctor I was going to tell everyone I’d been the victim of a vampire attack and that he should make it look good. He laughed. Apparently he thought I was kidding. I’d show you a pic of the actual procedure, but it was gory and unsuitable for family viewing. Especially the part where they sort of gouge around in there, vigorously sawing the needle back and forth in the neck to get a good tissue sample. Four different times. Blood lesson: Never settle for one sample when you can get four. I didn’t feel a thing. Well, okay, I was awake, obviously I felt something. But no pain. Everyone said it went well. Here I am, almost completely recovered within mere minutes:

I HAD planned to go in to work afterward. Really. Never mind that the nurses looked a bit alarmed when I mentioned it. In fact, they all kept asking whether anyone was there to drive me home. I assured them I’d be fine. But by the time I got five minutes away from the hospital the local anesthetic had worn off and my neck hurt like hell. So I went home and spent the rest of the day reclining on the couch with an ice pack on my wound — 20 minutes on/20 minutes off, as instructed. You know, there are some parts of your body you really don’t mind having a cold heavy weight pressing down on, even when they’re injured. The neck is not one of them.

I know, you’re probably thinking at least the hard part is over. Not so. The real torture will be waiting another week for the results. But it’s better than not knowing. Seriously, if you have a lump you’re ignoring– stop it. Go get it checked out.

[All kidding aside, everyone at Duke Raleigh Hospital — and I do mean everyone, even the harried receptionist — was extremely nice and went out of their way to make sure the entire process was as pleasant and pain free as possible. They even numbed the back of my hand before they inserted the saline drip. Plus they gave me a very nice ice pack that doesn’t leak once the ice melts. Even so, I hope I never see any of them again.] <– notice the Duke blue, a small tribute


Filed under health and well-being

18 responses to “Monday, Bloody Monday

  1. cb_mcb

    Babe. So now I know for the future that when you start telling everyone that you are the picture of health you have real references. And probably you are lying.

    But it really is good news that if you have to have a lump, and being the type to demand attention you would, it really is one of the preferred locations. And so you know, while I am lumpless, my thyroid hasn't functioned in decades. It's nice when the one gland that runs so much of your body is also the one for which they have tried and true pills.

    Insagos. A nice little island near the Galapagos where you can recover from puncture wounds.


  2. BCB

    McB, darlin', I wouldn't lie to you. Just didn't see the need to upset anyone unless there was a reason to be upset. So far, there isn't. But we're down to the last week and I decided I'd kept it to myself long enough.

    The funny thing is, my thyroid function is completely normal. All my blood tests and whatnot [yes, that is a medical term] are too. I was starting to worry I'd have to insist they do the biopsy, but the doc readily agreed. He just wanted to do things in what he considered to be the "right" order. I have a feeling the insurance company is delighted by his priorities.


  3. Merry

    I figured you had a lump in your throat because you'd been watching a teary-sad movie. Honestly, the things you Southern' wimmin do to get attention.
    Please get attention. Lots of attention. From strong handsome DD and DS, who should be plying you with ice cream and chicken soup and hell why not a few dacquiris while they're at it. Get thyself pampered, in other words.

    Nag nag merry nag nag nag

    traffic – Mr. Word Verification does not want you to traffic in anything, apparently.


  4. WapakGram

    I thought you were only a portrait photographer but no!!! You did a fine job replicating your day in the hospital. I can't decide which is the best. I'm going for post-op. I think Bob would like that also. Except he would skip the band-aid!

    You should tell them at work that it was a vampire bite.

    Keep your feet above your heart and feed a cold and starve a fever. Take two aspirin and call us in the morning.

    There ever so much better. 🙂

    hanoze- what you use to water your plants indoors.


  5. Scope Dope Cherrybomb

    Bcb that's good advice you give. Having had several needle biopsies I know that they hurt…a lot. Keep on with the ice and as Wapak said take two aspirin and call us in the morning.

    Loved the post op picture.
    take care of yourself.

    bakitin-the direction the doctor took with the needle.


  6. Theresa

    I had to have a thyroid cyst aspirated. Twice. Same cyst, because the first time (which was much like your procedure, although no saline drip) was very high stress. And then the Dr. Guy ended up not being able to aspirate it because it was a colloid cyst. But yeah, the wait to hear about the test result after is not fun.

    Second time (after cyst had grown a bit more) was at the thyroid surgeon's office. One appointment, she examined it, said they could aspirate right there. She and a nurse took care of it, and it was over with much less fuss and angst.

    So I'm confident that it will all be fine for you.

    I can't remember if I told people I was bitten by a vampire, but I probably thought it. Nice job with the documentation.


  7. GatorPerson

    DH had some or all of his parathyroid(s) removed decades ago. He was so young they thought it might be cancerous, but lost the sample; so we never found out. But now we know it wasn't.

    For him, it was terribly important that they saw just so since he's a singer and couldn't sing for six months after surgery.

    Sooo, no matter what you'll be just fine. And now we know you have an excellent talent for comic stick figures. You ought to start a comic strip.


  8. BCB

    Nope, no aspirin allowed. They're worried about internal bleeding and blood clots. Just Tylenol. And I'm home alone this week, which is really sort of a relief. I can focus on memememe. 😉

    Theresa, they didn't actually give me any saline, they stuck the contraption in my hand just in case.

    And yes, everyone keeps telling me I'll be fine, just fine. But let's run a few more tests, just in case… I wish they'd at least be honest about how painful some things are going to be. IMO, it would be easier to mentally prepare for them.


  9. Lou

    BCB – if they told people how painful it would be, no one would attend the appointments.

    Glad you got it looked at, and I love the pics!

    Take care and focus on youyouyou.

    prerstro – It's 6:15 in the morning – I got nothin'.


  10. McB

    I agree about being prepared. I'd always rather be prepared for a worse case scenario and then have it be anticlimatic.


  11. me

    Well, for someone who was bitten by a vampire, you look fabulous! Glad you got it checked out. But I'm not sure I should have read about the giant blood-sucking needle. Shudder.


  12. rssasrb

    You were right to warn us about the graphic pictures. Good heavens. I can't believe you were able to take them after all that.

    Thank goodness you went and had it checked out. Please let us know what the results are.

    Like Lou said, take care of you,you,you. You're important.

    bicra: how you sound with a cold weight on your throat


  13. BCB

    Thanks, everyone, for all the love and concern. Wait. That WAS love and concern, right? Yes? Okay good.

    I did tell a few people today that the bandage was covering a vampire bite. They laughed. I tried not to because laughing hurts. I think it would heal better if it weren't for all this darn sunlight…

    I go to see the endo doc next week to get results. At least, I think it's next week. I wrote it down somewhere. Wonder what I did with that scrap of paper? Wish I could just call instead.


  14. Diane (TT)

    BCB, I certainly hope that the results are the good kind! Sorry that you're having post-biopsy unpleasantness (can you freeze a washcloth or something, so it'll be cold but NOT heavy?). Definitely love and concern.

    But the pictures were also fabulous, as usual.


  15. Slave Driver

    Waiting sucks ass. Been there, and every time the phone rings you jump and gulp. I hope the news is noting but good. And you get a gold star for being so brave. And for not killing anyone out of frustration. Or, you know, rage.

    Now, as far as your pictures go, I never realized you were so thin- really, BCB, eat a cookie or something, you're nothing but a stick!

    iMulgeir; More crap from Apple that they want to sell you for your iPod iLife.


  16. Merry

    So, are you ready to tell the truth and confess that the bandage merely conceals the Mother (and father, and assorted progeny) of All Hickies? I'm sure your boss will still believe that all those visits to your doctor were purely professional.
    Well, at least professional.
    Or a reasonable facsimile thereof.


  17. BCB

    Yes, I do look quite svelte and fabulous, don't I? And they say the camera adds ten pounds. Pffft. Not MY camera. My camera allows for frequent delusional cookie breaks.

    Merry, you just say that because you haven't seen the bite mar– um, the puncture wounds. Really, dear, you're revealing the conflicted trauma of your Catholic upbringing by using the technical terms "your boss" and "tell the truth" and "professional" in the same context. For some things, there is no reasonable facsimile.


  18. McB

    Oh, that Boss. Capital B. Yeah, you can't fool him.

    How did Springstein get into this?

    nosci – just faith. (blooger is really creepy sometimes.