I've noticed for the last few months that my energy level had just dwindled away to nothing. It was all I could do to get through the work day. The only thing I looked forward to was napping on the couch. My biggest joke was to tell family and friends that I had to get home in time to take a nap before going to bed. I know they all thought I was kidding, but I was totally serious.
I figured the reason for this dramatic drop in my energy level was old age, well...ok, not old old age, just being older. I turned 50 this year and when I first went to my doctor for a complete physical I kept telling her about all the aches and pains and tiredness and she pretty much just blamed it all on my age. But...covering her butt I'm sure, she ordered a ton of tests.
One test she performed in her office was a breast exam prior to sending me to get a mammogram. During the breast exam, she noticed that I had a lump in my throat on the left side and she felt it and then had me feel it. I had not noticed it and I don't normally make it a habit to exam my own body that thoroughly, so I while I was scared she had found it, I was also happy that she had as my mom and dad have both had nodules in their throats and my mom's actually turned out to be cancerous and she had to have her complete thyroid removed.
My doctor immediately sent me to get some blood work, but that all came back negative, so she sent me for an ultrasound. That was such a relaxing test. I laid in a bed in a dark room and the technician just massaged my neck over and over with the ultrasound thingy which looked like a computer mouse with wires and things attached to project images to the screen. It was like getting a massage on my whole neck. But unfortunately that test wasn't conclusive.
The next test was one that took two days. I had to go in the first day and they had me fill out some paperwork, I was fasting and they gave me some pills to take that contained some kind of radioactive iodine, then I went back to work and didn't eat until lunch time. The next day I went back and they did some kind of test where I laid under this big flat metal plate for a long, long time. I got scared thinking that if there was an earthquake this thing would squish me and everyone would run off and forget all about me and I would just lay there squished until I couldn't breath and I would die. I'm such an optimist aren't I?
Well this test was also inconclusive for cancer but it did let the doctor know that I had three nodules on my left side and one on the right (although no one told me about the one on the right until my meeting with the actual surgeon).
So the next test was a fine needle biopsy of the nodules, which the doctor didn't tell me much about, her office basically just made the appointment and I didn't ask very many questions. I'm of the opinion that what I don't know...can't hurt me. This really drove my sister Lisa crazy during this time as she was the only one that knew what I was going through and then I didn't even have the answers to all her questions. Thank God for the worldwide web. We did a lot of research.
We looked up fine needle biopsy and in this test, they numbed the area on my left side of my throat and the put a needle in my throat 3 times to draw out some tissue to have it tested. It didn't hurt, but the last needle was a little bit uncomfortable. I watched the whole thing on a screen and it kind of looked to me like when they do liposuction on people. The doctor just jabbed the needle roughly back and forth. I guess that was to loosen the tissue, I don't know.
Anyway, after this test I had the worst sore throat I have ever had in my life. I didn't know right away it would hurt as I was still numbed, so I went to work. But when it hit...OH MY, it hurt. Not so much that people at work noticed or that I had to go home, but then I'm a toughie. This pain lasted for more than a month, by the way.
Ok, so this last test was also inconclusive. The doctor who did the fine needle biopsy said he was almost positive that there was no cancer. My own doctor told me she didn't think there was any cancer, but that she wanted them out anyway due to the family history of thyroid cancer and the fact that the nodules continue to grow and they can block your airway. In my own research of all this, I found that another one of the symptoms was energy loss, tiredness. So I wasn't just old, I was sick!
I was referred to a surgeon who told me that he didn't think there was cancer, but that he was going to go ahead and remove the three nodules on the left side and also remove the left side of the thyroid. He also said that while I was still under, he was going to send a sample to pathology and if it looked like cancer then he was going to remove the nodule on the right side and the complete thyroid, but if not he would just remove the right side nodule. He scheduled surgery for August 21st, 2008.
At this point, I figured it was time to tell my family.
End of Part One...stay tuned for Part Two...the surgery.