Friday, June 24, 2011

Why yes, sure I'd like a biopsy

Spoiler alert: I do not have cancer. Just saying that going in. In fact I waited until this whole aggravating procedure was over before writing about it because I didn't want to spend whole posts whining about maybe having cancer, if in fact I did not. Because who wants to listen to that crap? Cue the violin.

Anyway what I do have is a nodule in my thyroid. And apparently said thyroid is enlarged on one side, according to the doctor who spotted it during my checkup, but for the life of me I can't see it and I've been looking at my neck for years. But the doctor sent me for an ultrasound, and then when they got the results back they sent me to an ENT, and then when the ENT saw me she sent me to the hospital for another ultrasound and a biopsy. Frankly I think ultrasounds are more fun when there's a baby involved. Way less strain on the neck.

From my minimal research I found that thyroid nodules are usually spotted in exactly this manner, they're way more common in women than men and there are frequently no symptoms of thyroid cancer. Which didn't help matters, since I felt fine. You know, upset and stressed out, but fine.

The above description might sound like this whole thing took a matter of days. Um, no. The physical was at the end of March. The first ultrasound was a few weeks later. The ENT visit was at the end of May, and the biopsy was the first week of June. And then another agonizing week for the results. Good thing I don't have cancer or I'd be dead by now.

One (small) benefit was that I got to check out another of the hospitals in the area, since we've been going to a different, larger one for all our emergency-fever/you-should-get-your-kid-behaviorally-tested-because-he's-been-acting-up-in-school needs. This other one is a little closer, and the parking setup is better, which is a good thing to keep in mind for emergency fevers. I'm not especially a fan of driving aimlessly all around the hospital, going right past the emergency room, trying to figure out where I'm allowed to park. That's annoying enough in a non-emergency, mall situation.

It's a St. hospital, which I didn't think about much till I got there and saw the whole building is designed around a chapel in the middle -- pretty interesting architecturally -- and I happened to be walking down a hallway and in an alcove was Jesus. Fairly big statue, too. I guess he kind of blended in. Waiting area, restroom, radiology department, Jesus.

The doctor who did the biopsy was nice enough but he needs new material. I told him and his assistant as they were getting me ready that I'm pretty sensitive about things touching my neck (ironically, since I'm a scarf fiend), and he cracked a line about my husband choking me. Generally when someone lobs a joke at me I'll whack it right back, so I said, "How did you know?" but I was thinking, Get smacked down by HR much, doc? And he riposted that he does the same thing to his wife at home. Dude. If DH ever made a joke like that about me he'd be sleeping in the yard.

Doc was perfectly careful and professional during the actual test, so I guess he's just a lousy comedian. But many people are.

Not a test I would recommend for funsies, incidentally, unless you like having your neck hyperextended, Also if you like looking like someone punched you in the neck for the next week. Fortunately I have a closet full of scarves. So I either looked weird for wearing them to work six straight days, or I looked hypertrendy. I prefer to think it's the latter.

The ENT said they'd get the results in 8-10 days. The hospital said 4-5 days. In search of a straight answer from somewhere, I started calling the ENT's office on day 4. They said "we're not supposed to give results over the phone" and call back tomorrow. Two days in a row. But then they said the nurse practitioner would call me Friday. The one who I'd originally made the follow-up appointment with for that Friday. Who suddenly had to cancel all her appointments that week, forcing me to push off my follow-up to Monday. Right. That nurse practitioner? Was suddenly going to be in the office on Friday?

And then my head exploded a little bit.

Fortunately she actually did call on Friday to say it was benign. Un-exploding my head somewhat.

So at least I got to spend Father's Day not going cancer cancer cancer. The ENT himself, at the long-awaited but anticlimactic follow-up, told me he never gives results over the phone because of the one time he did and they were fairly dire, and the freaked-out patient got into a car accident on the way to the hospital. Well, OK. Good reason. He also said the 8- to 10-day window is in case the test is screwed up or doesn't provide all the info he needs and he makes them redo part of it. I got the impression this guy is a bit of a hardass. My kind of doctor.

In six months I'm supposed to get another ultrasound, for monitoring purposes. But not a biopsy. Fine by me.

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