Friday, September 30, 2016

The Biopsy

Yesterday, I went in for my biopsy. It was not SUPER fun, but I guess it was better than going to work for a two hour meeting.

I showed up at the hospital half an hour early, per their instructions, and then sat in the waiting room another hour. Biopsy tip number one: bring a book. Bring two, if you're a fast reader. I filled out two small stacks of paperwork and then spent the next while doing thing you do in restaurants when you see a waiter with plates and you look at them expectantly and they walk past, except this time, it was nurses. And instead of chicken tikka masala, it was more paperwork.

When I finally got called back, they had me strip down to my waist and lie down on a medical bed. The nurse checked out my nodules with ultrasound one more time, and then she drew an LT on my clavicle to make sure the doctor didn't bone this one up and go for the wrong side of the neck. Good.

So what's a thyroid biopsy like? Here's what to expect: lots of needles, and a pain / discomfort level on the order of 'getting a cavity filled.' For my two nodules, I'm pretty sure I got twelve needles. The first three were the same stuff dentists use when they numb your jaw, and it felt about the same. The doctor waited another minute and then started drawing tissue from the nodules.

Now, one of my nodules was on the side of my neck, and that was pretty okay. Kind of like someone pressing hard on my neck. The other was right on my adam's apple, and that felt kind of terrible. Imagine someone trying to shove a ballpoint pen through your throat. At least it didn't last long. Three more injections of the pain numbing stuff and three more samples, and the biopsy was done. The actual procedure lasted maybe twenty minutes, and then I was out the door in two. Total time: TWO HOURS. Then I came home with a bandaid on my neck and felt like sleeping the rest of the day.

Monday, I should know what happens next!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Two years, three months later...

The Zoloft worked so well that I haven't written in a couple of years.  I still have the drive, but life is pulling me in other directions. That sounds too passive, but... it's mostly true. I never expected to be a manager, never expected work to be so exhausting that I just wanted to turn off my brain in the evenings.

See? The days just flow into each other, just the magma of time sort of hardening into a weird... series of surprises. Like, the other day. The pharmacy called in a prescription for me, and my nurse practitioner said that before she'd fill it, she wanted me to come in for my annual checkup.

I hadn't planned on that, or for her to find a lump in my throat. One ultrasound and two suspicious nodules later, I'm going in for a biopsy next week. I really want this to be a one-off post. Like, maybe I'll post again in two years from Sweden and remember this week as an anomaly.

The nodules aren't too big - one is 11 mm, and the other is 9 mm. And a mildly prominent lymph node, I don't even pretend to know what that means. They automatically biopsy any nodules bigger than 10 mm. What's not great is that the nodules have internal calcification and 'increased vascularity.' It means probably not a simple cyst, and probably something my body thinks is foreign (that's a little calcium shell it's building around it.) Those are red flags.

Anyway. Thyroid nodules are super common. Benign nodules with the features above are ... not AS common, but still pretty common. That's good! The odds are that this is not thyroid cancer. And if it IS thyroid cancer, then looks like they caught it really early. They take out the thyroid, give me synthetic hormones the rest of my life, and I sit back and relax. The doctor didn't quite come out and say it, but she implied that the only people who die of thyroid cancer are the ones who refuse treatment.

Biopsy is on September 29th. I don't know when the results will be in, but here we go.