It was exactly a year ago today that I had the surgery on my thyroid to remove a nodule that could have been cancer. Now that I’ve got a year between me and the Frankenneck, I can tell you: during those few weeks last November I was more scared for myself than I’d ever been.
About 10% of the adult population has thyroid nodules, a lump that grows on an otherwise normal thyroid. My thyroid function was 100% – it just had a large growth. (Yuck!) Ninety-five percent of thyroid nodules are benign, but the larger the lump, the higher the risk for cancer. My doctor said that the nodule on my thyroid was quite large – it covered more than half of the small, butterfly-shaped gland – and recommended surgery to remove it and perform a complete biopsy.
Even though thyroid cancer is generally considered treatable and relatively minor, it’s scary stuff to be sitting in an office and hear the C-word. I mean, I was normal one second, facing potential C-ness the next.
Clearly, it’s all worked out just fine. The doctor removed two nodules – she found a second one hiding in there when she opened me up – and was able to leave enough of my thyroid to function just fine. I don’t have to take thyroid hormones, and there was no cancer. The bills are paid, and Dr. Stierman is just an old entry in my phone address book.
All I have to show for my adventure is the scar across the front of my neck. I wish it wasn’t there, and some days, I wear a scarf because I just really don’t want to look at it. But mostly, I appreciate what I learned from the experience. When bad shit happens, we really can rise to the occasion, find some humor, and weather the bumps… which is not to say I hope I ever experience anything like that again! But it is good to know that once the initial shock and fear pass, bad news is like anything else we have to tackle: do some research, make a plan, follow the steps, and keep your friends and family close.
I Prefer Ultravox to Ultrasound: This is the post I wrote after the trip to my GP where I learned I might have something going wonky-donk with my thyroid.
Seven Double-Unders: The day I learned I had a nodule and had to have surgery (and maybe had cancer), I got a PR on double-unders. The universe has a wickedly appalling and wonderful sense of humor.
Monday Bootcamp & Thyroid Surgery Fun Facts: The basics about thyroid surgery, in case you’re curious.
This is a really crappy hotel: My post from the hospital bed, just before my surgery.
The Reasons I’m a Bad Patient: My first post-surgery update. My sense of humor returned, along with a very swollen neck and ruined Thanksgiving plans.
Blame the Amoxicillin?: I had some trouble with the antibiotics; here’s what I learned about Amoxicillin.
Giving Fear a Workout: The monsters were gnashing their teeth at me for 24 days straight, but just about put them to rest with a run around the lake after my forced 10 days of rest.
Back at Bootcamp: And then I was back to my class, back to my routine, and back to planning new challenges for the future.
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