Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Benign - What a Beautiful Word

First, a word of apology, for not making a post for so long. Over the next week - I will make several entries to get caught up on what has been going on these past couple weeks. I went to see my surgeon 1 week and 1 day after surgery and he removed my stitches and said everything looks good. The piece of tape over the incision - Steristrip - is to remain in place as long as possible. He said my one vocal cord (which previously was not working at all) is moving again - so it appears the growth was in fact laying on my one cord. My voice still sounds about the same to me anyway and sometimes if I talk too much it sounds like its strained. The surgeon said the one thing I could do to help my scar heal normally is to use sunscreen or wear a scarf when I'm outside, which is a lot. The most important news is that the official pathology report came back and the result is the growth turned out to be benign, which I am extremely thankful for. I've been busy living life but will continue to post so others can see how the scar heals over time. I left with instructions to return to the surgeon in one month for a follow-up visit and to not lift anything heavy for another week. Well - it's a beautiful day outside and I'm going out now to enjoy it. Elle

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My Incision - 5 days post op

My incision looks good - or I suppose as good as one can look. I'm surprised at how small the actual incision is - by my unscientific measurements - it's about 2 and 3/4 inches. My surgeon is on staff at a local well-respected Children's hospital. I've read on-line that surgeons who also operate on children have a tendency to make much smaller incisions. While I think I have a little bruising, I also have some left over Sharpie marks from the surgery - some of which I have already removed as they were not under the bandage and some of which are still under the bandage. I'm supposed to be keeping the bandage dry and not touch it at all - I'm doing my best with this and am looking forward to Friday. I expect the bandage to come off and the stitches to be taken out by the surgeon. That's also when I get my final pathology report and I'm hoping for good news, but have prepared myself not to lose it if the pathologists report comes back with something other than benign.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

There's No Place Like Home ... There's No Place Like Home

I got to come home Friday afternoon, the day after the surgery. The surgery went very well - the surgeon only took out half of my thyroid and pathology believes it is benign. I will find out the final pathology report results a week from today when I go to my follow up appointment with my surgeon. I had a drainage tube in until just before I left the hospital when the surgeon removed it. The surgery went better and was easier than I expected. I told the surgeon that I felt like I had aches and pains like I'd run a marathon and he said that one of the medicines they give you to put you out causes your muscles to contract severely for several minutes. My neck really doesn't hurt too much and the entire time I was at the hospital and even after I've taken no pain medication. I really can't move my head or neck too much because of the stitches and the tape over the incision. I'm not supposed to bend down at all and can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. I'm glad I had the surgery and even more glad that it's over. Thanks for all the well wishes and thoughts.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Surgery Day

Well at long last, surgery day is here. I'm up early getting the few things I'm taking packed and hoping for a very short hospital stay. Please keep my in your thoughts and prayers. I may not be able to blog for anywhere from a few days to I suppose as much as a week. I'll make a post as soon as I get home. Talk to you soon - Elle

Monday, June 4, 2007

Can you See it?

I'm enclosing a picture of my neck prior to surgery - the nodule is on my left and it would be on the right in the picture. Evidently it jumped out at both my family doctor and the endocrinologist, but didn't jump out at me.

I plan to include pictures of the incision post-op as well, as I've heard the incision and the resulting scar are the biggest concerns many have who are undergoing this treatment.

I'm not planning on hiding my scar at all and already consider it to be a future "beauty" mark that makes me one of a kind.

Pre-Admission Testing

On Friday I went to the hospital for pre-admission testing. I answered many, many questions several times over, once for the surgeon and once for the anesthesiologist. The nurse took my blood and the X-ray technician and performed a chest X-ray. I'm all set now for surgery. I was reminded to bring absolutely nothing of value to the hospital, including jewelry and instructed to wear no makeup, lotion or powder.

So I'm leaving my fashionable suitcase, purse, jeans, and fun summer sandals at home and will arrive looking like I'm attending a soccer game. This is probably a good thing - I will reduce what I'm bringing to a very small duffle bag which will give me even greater incentive to get well quickly so I can go home.

I pity the hospital staff, because if I can talk I will be asking constantly to go home. My youngest, who is probably having the toughest time with my surgery, has been invited to go camping for the weekend which was perfect timing. Hopefully I'll be home before she is and there will be no tearful hospital visits.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Shout out

I just wanted to take a minute and make a shout out to Glenda, a fellow thyroid patient who has been kind enough to share in the comments very helpful information. I would encourage others who may be pre-op to be sure to read the comments so they too can benefit from her experience. Thanks again Glenda!!! - ELLE

Doctor Doctor

I went back to the endocrinologist this week to ask the questions I wasn't prepared to ask last time because back then I knew absolutely nothing about thyroid nodules. He answered all my questions and gave me the comfort level I wanted to have prior to surgery. He jokingly said he didn't want to see me again until I had an incision on my throat and I told him that was a deal. He did tell me the in-depth pathology report would be the determining factor of whether I need radiation treatment. This means that I won't really know if I need further treatment until the Friday after my surgery. I mentioned the handful of horror stories I had read about people just not feeling right (being depressed, putting on weight, etc.) after having their thyroid removed and he assured me everything would be fine. He said he does not rely on ranges and each case must be treated based on that individuals needs and what feels and is normal for him or her. This is what I wanted to hear and what I've read that a good doctor would say. He did mention that if I need radiation treatment I would not like him during that time period and would need to miss about 4 weeks of work. The odds are in my favor - I'm hoping for the best and preparing myself for the worse just in case.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Breaking the News to the Kids

My husband and I went out to eat with our 3 children last night and at the end of the meal, we broke the news that I would be having surgery next week. Our oldest said nothing. Our middle child asked what exactly was being taken out - we told her a nodule and that we wouldn't know more until after the surgery and that is why it has to be taken out - so the doctors could examine whatever it is more thoroughly - she next asked if what I had was contagious and I said no. Our youngest just started crying. She said she doesn't want me to have the surgery and I told her it had to be done. Finally, by the time she went to bed she seemed to resign herself to this fact and said she wanted to come visit me in the hospital. I told her if I have a short stay, that won't be necessary but if I stay 2 nights she can come visit. Although this was not pleasant news to give, I'm glad it's out there and hope the next week and a couple days go quickly. With all I need to get done by then - I think they will.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Crunch Time

I know it's been a while since my last post. It's now crunch time - my surgery is scheduled for the morning of June 7th and I have been extremely busy getting everything at home and at work ready for my time off. I'm planning on telling the kids tomorrow - and am anxious to see how they react to the news. I've never been away from the office for 7 business days straight (except for maternity leave) so that will be a first. I had "perfect attendance" up to this point and I hate to break the streak but oh well.

We've been having beautiful weather here every day and I'm doing my best to enjoy every second of it. One of my good friends recently sent me an email for mother's day that had a short story by Anne Quinlan about being a mother. Her kids are now evidently grown and she is looking back with reflection and some regret and says that she wishes she had enjoyed the doing of things more and the getting done of things less. I have been trying to live this attitude and felt her story depicted my thoughts and feelings exactly. I have felt for a while now like there is a large clock ticking which signifies the time I have left with the kids where I will see them everyday before they go off to college. While I want them to grow up and be happy and independent adults, I really want to savor those last years where you see them everyday. My thyroid issue has perhaps made the clock tick louder. I am looking very forward to summer and the vacation days I will take to spend time with the kids. I'm sure the other moms think I'm crazy but I'm enjoying (most of the time) running the kids everywhere, selling concessions together and working in the yard with each other. I find myself making more time for playing "HORSE", "PIG" or "PIGTAIL" in basketball as my youngest likes to play the later to draw the game out longer, or playing golf in our yard. As I'm typing this the wind chime is chiming, the birds are chirping and the water fountain on the back patio is making the soothing bubbling sound I love and I am thankful to be able to enjoy this gorgeous day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is Anybody Out There?............

Since I don't know anyone who has had their thyroid removed, I thought I would try to find a celebrity or two who had undergone this procedure. So far I've discovered that Catherine Bell, who appeared as "Mac" on J.A.G. and legendary singer, Rod Stewart have both had thyroid cancer. In fact, Catherine Bell is the new spokesperson for the Thyroid Cancer Survivor's Association. For some reason, I found it very comforting to know these two individuals have had thyroid cancer and appear to be successfully going about their lives. I would not have wanted to have been the surgeon to operate on Rod - what pressure with the very real risk of damaging vocal cords during surgery. I have always loved Rod and have decided to purchase some of his music off Itunes to serve as inspiration during the recovery from my surgery. I'm feeling better already.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Funeral

I attended the funeral of a mother of a friend today who passed away from cancer. Her premature death was a grim reminder we should live every day as though its our last, spend time with the people we love, and tell them we love them every day. The older I get the more I realize the material things aren't what matter, it's the people in our lives and our experiences with them that are the real treasures in life. Here's to being more laid back about the small stuff and focusing on what's really important in our lives - people!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Doctor is In...

I spoke with my family physician today after her return from vacation. She knew the endocrinologist and surgeon were recommending removal of the nodule. When asked if she agreed with their recommendation she said she did agree. I remembered then that her husband passed away a couple of years ago from cancer. We both agreed it was better to know if I have cancer rather than sit around and continually wonder. I'm very thankful she saw the mass on my neck. I'm ready for the fight against cancer if that time comes.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Now Let's Scrub in ... and Meet the Surgeon

April, 2007

Prior to going to the surgeon's office I've confirmed that he attended a top medical school, is Board Certified, has never had a complaint filed against him and has an impressive resume. I took my list of 23 questions with me to the appointment and he happily answered them all. I feel very confident about my surgeon and optimistic about the surgery.

He examined my vocal cords during the visit. Two methods exist - one using a mirror, while the patient is supposed to physically hold their tongue out of the way and not gag. After several attempts he decided to move to more unpleasant method of inserting a scope through your nose to view the vocal cords. He sprayed by nose with 2 sprays, I a decongestant (I think) and another was a numbing medication. Using the second method we were able to finish the examination which, although not loads of fun, was definitely bearable, even for me. The examination showed my left vocal cord is not moving properly, which he said could be a coincidence or a result of the mass in my neck.

During the appointment he mentioned the very real possibility of damage to my vocal cords. He also said it is possible my voice may change and asked if I was a singer. At that comment I doubled over in laughter for a few seconds. While a sibling of mine is truly an accomplished singer, I was totally overlooked when singing abilities were being passed out. I think the best comparison I've seen so far to my ability is Cameron Diaz singing karaoke in "My Best Friend's Wedding". For those of you who have seen this movie, you know this means I'm an absolutely terrible singer - at least that's one less risk for me to worry about. I have also been described as having a "youthful" voice. This is really just a polite way of saying my voice sounds like a 12 year old girl, which is what my friends have told me previously. This comes in handy when dealing with telemarketers as I can honestly answer that neither my mother or father are home and I have absolutely no idea when they will be returning. After the appointment I'm relaying all of this very serious information to my husband when he says jokingly, "If one of the vocal cords of a woman with a 12 year old voice is damaged - does that mean she will sound like a 6 year old girl?" This struck me as being incredibly hilarious and provided me with the levity I needed at the time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blog Name Origins

I never explained the whole "butterfly" name. I decided on this because one, I now know the thyroid is shaped like a butterfly and two, because of the off and on experience of "butterflies" in my stomach during various times of my thyroid journey.

The Endocrinologist and the "C" word

In March 2007 met with endocrinologist. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but whatever I was expecting - that isn't what happened. This is the first time I heard the measurements of the thyroid nodule in my neck - nearly 4 centimeters, which is evidently very large for thryoid nodules. Met with the physician's assistant first and she broke the news that the doctor would possibly recommend surgical removal rather than continued monitoring through biopsies, which is quite frankly what I was expecting. I wound up meeting with doctor for a period longer than I've met with any other doctor in my life and I truly appreciated all the time he spent with me answering all my questions. He did recommend I have the nodule removed. For I moment I thought he would perform the surgery, but he explained that an ear, nose and throat surgeon actually performs the surgery. I suppose I should have known this, but I'm not sure my thought was exactly logical at the moment and I'm not in the medical field. He also explained that these types of masses are extremely slow-growing and that this had likely been growing inside me for the past 15 to 20 years - which I found both interesting and a little creepy at the same time. Today was also the first time I heard the possibility of the "C" (Cancer) word. Definitely was not expecting to hear that nasty little word today. I like to think I'm reasonably well informed, but in my entire life I've never, and I mean never, heard of thyroid cancer and know no one who has had it. I decide today that I will write to Oprah and perhaps she can do a show on this and other health items everyone should know about but don't. The doctor tells me there is a small chance what I have is cancerous. I can't remember the exact percentages he told me but later read about 90% chance my mass is benign. If I do have cancer - I believe there are four types - two of which are highly treatable and the remaining two are more serious. The first two types (will post their names in later entries) are highly treatable and a normal life expectancy is expected - the scenario for the other two types is not so rosy. My doctor believes if I do have cancer, he said it is very likely I would have the two types that are treatable because of the way my nodule presented. Left doctor's office feeling overwhelmed - was very late in day and did not go back to work.

This May Feel Cold ... the Ultrasound

In January 2007 went for the ultrasound. This ultrasound was not different from any other ultrasound I've had in my life. Results were sent to my family physician. She called and said there were several masses found and she recommended I see an endocrinologist. She gave me a couple of recommendations within a certain group. After checking health insurance to make sure this new doctor in group, made an appointment - turns out the earliest I can get in is March, 2007. At this point, I've told no one but my husband and my boss at work.

The Beginning

In December 2006 went for my annual check-up with our family physician. Even though the appointment was in mid-winter something told me to wear a low-cut t-shirt type top, which I did. My doctor noticed a lump on the bottom of my throat and after feeling the area recommended I go for an ultra-sound to check it out. I was somewhat surprised as was simply expecting the usual "You're fine - nothing new" comment. At this point, I'm not even sure the thyroid was mentioned as I simply had a possible unidentified mass in my neck.