A few days later, I had the ultrasound. The u/s techs are pretty much silent and the process lasted no more than 10 minutes. I was only able to catch a glimpse of the pictures he took of my thyroid "nodule." At home, I googled similar images and got the hunch that my thyroid on the right side wasn't looking right at all.
Thus, I wasn't surprised when my OB called me back and said that I needed a biopsy as soon as possible, and then a visit to an endocrinologist. She was pulling as many strings as she could to get me seen as soon as possible, but there were a few insurance hoops to jump through that things ultimately got delayed by a week.
The FNA biopsy was really unpleasant: it felt like my windpipe was being crushed when they administered the local anesthesia, and then they took 6 samples from the nodule in my thyroid (which left my neck muscles aching for a couple of weeks). The nurse and lab tech making slides chattered about how they do thyroid biopsies 4 or 5 times a day, which made me feel like a needle-in-a-haystack experiencing something as common as a cold. Not a bad thing.
A couple of days later my primary doctor called me back and said that the nodule was exhibiting suspicious features of cancer and my entire thyroid would need to be removed. She told me the endocrinologist would explain more details to me and asked me if I was okay? "Yeah, definitely. I know everything's going to be okay."
It's hard to explain my feelings about this whole process. I wasn't expecting it, and the stress of dealing with insurance and at least 4 different doctors and many different lab techs is new to me and gets my heart rate up. It doesn't concern me too much in a big way, because I know that thyroid cancer is easily treatable, and not that painful of a process in comparison with most of the well-known cancers out there.
It's still humbling to admit to myself that my body is susceptible to something like this, even when I feel healthy and try to take care of myself. I wonder if my anxiety is to blame? If I am guilty for not resting more? If I need to do major change in the way I handle stress? I feel like somehow this might be my fault for not being more serious about taking care of myself.
However, the cause is really unknown and I can't speculate too much about this. I know it makes me know deep down that someday I could be receiving much more terminal news on the other side of the phone line, I am not going to be here forever. So it makes me less patient with things that seem to be a trivial use of time yet take up the majority of mine, and it makes me very hungry for something in my inbox besides advertisement emails. I want real connection with real people.
Anyhow, the following week I visited the endocrinologist and she explained to me that I most likely have either papillary or follicular thyroid cancer (means nothing to me), and that it would be surgically removed and I would go on to take thyroid hormone for the rest of my days. She gave me a list of surgeons to call and some pamphlets about post-surgery treatments.
On Friday I talked to a surgeon and she was super cool and explained to me the whole process and we got a date set (July 24). She said there is no way to know for certain if my situation is benign or malignant without removing and analyzing the thyroid (50-75% chance of malignancy at this time). She explained the slight risks that come with the surgery, things like post-op bleeding or damage to vocal nerve, but she is a specialist in the area of thyroid surgery, so the chances of such things are down in the single-digit percents. This lady seems really awesome, like I'd probably want to be friends with her in real life. She even gave me her email address. I'm glad that insurance blocked all the other, more geographically accessible surgeons. She's where I belong, I feel sure of it.
Right now, the next steps are to take lots of Vitamin D every day for a month, follow up with the surgeon in a month, and get things squared away at work for the time off (just 4 days).
And somehow deal with the feelings of guilt that this is a nuisance to so many people who care for me, especially my poor husband, who really wanted to take a vacation this year and may instead be using time off to take care of me after surgery while I can't drive.
Thanks for people who've prayed for me. I need a lot of prayer. My emotional reserves are low after many repeated stressors have introduced themselves to me in the past six months or so. I recognize that I don't have the sharpest coping skills, and yet I desperately need the health and energy to keep putting one foot in front of the other right now. All my sleep is severely lacking and seriously disrupted with discomfort, frequent wake-ups and regular nightmares.
The truth is, I KNOW that EVERYTHING is going to be okay. I just want to handle this situation well and calmly and not be too selfish, as I always tend to be.
Isaiah 33:6English Standard Version (ESV)6 and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.