Sorry for the radio silence. Last Tues, April 9, I went to my endocrinologist, expecting nothing but total routine, same as it’s been for the last 9 years. Then she told me that my ultrasound showed an abnormal lymph node on the left side of my neck. That’s the side with my one remaining good vocal cord (the other one is dead, because the nerve that controls it was severed during thryoid cancer surgery). I swear I heard the ocean’s roar again, for the first time in 9 years. (Ocean’s roar = sound you hear when you stick a sea shell to your ear – you can’t really hear anything else after that). They scheduled me for a biopsy (it was today, April 16, pretty quick for the Canadian medical system).
This experience dredged up all of my fears of hospitals, and of losing my voice again (I don’t fear death so much anymore, which is one of the odd gifts I’ll just take from my cancer experience, since it has taken so much from me). Even in the best hospitals, there are a thousand ways to die, get injured, or suffer from someone else’s error, so remember nobody cares as much about your health as you do. Speak up, and definitely take an advocate with you. I started to panic when I walked through the door, but was able to control it by taking deep breaths and thinking about the cold beer I was going to drink at my favourite pub afterwards (Allen’s, on the Danforth).
Then the radiologist walked in (looking 24 if she was a day), announced she was just finishing up her training (I just knew it would be residents’ day in the ultrasound dept), and that another radiologist would be reviewing her work. (They were thorough and kind). I’ve spent so much time in hospitals and had so many procedures, I knew exactly what was going on while she was filming my neck. She and her partner first could not locate the abnormal lymph node, then found it but weren’t sure whether they should biopsy it. Then, the computer system “hung”, and they couldn’t get the films downloaded to the senior doctor on call. Finally, they got the computer queue cleared, and the senior doc came out and said she did not think we should biopsy the lymph node, because it did not look suspicious at all – it was only 4 millimeters in WIDTH (it had been flagged as being 1 centimeter in length). After a relatively long chat about my history (radical right neck dissection 2004, thyroglobulin positive ever since, indicating that some bit of thyroid tissue or thyroid cancer is still lurking in my body, etc.), the doc said she was still unconcerned and didn’t recommend a biospy. Have to agree – not even sure how they could hit a 4 mm wide object with a needle through several inches of skin, muscle, etc. So I wiped the goop off my neck and walked out with Bill to a relatively warm spring day in Toronto. Good news after a stressful week. Now off to return phone calls, emails, and deal with my growing “to do” list, which I completely ignored last week since I couldn’t think (although I did manage to muscle through two final exams)!
Grateful for my voice, grateful for my health, as always. And as for that little bit of surviving thyroid tissue/cancer, I hope they find it on a lab table somewhere, after I will my body to science.