Friday, August 17, 2018

Choose your own adventure post....

Do you remember the choose your own adventure books from when you were a kid? Where at the bottom of page you were given two or three choices of what to do. Then based on your choice, you were told to turn to a certain page of the book. I may (or may not) have fallen off a cliff and died....and then went -no, no, no, I meant turn down the other path and kept reading....everybody did that right?!?

Well during home leave, I acquired a new scar in a pretty obvious place. Oddly enough, (especially when really fresh with medical glue still holding me together) nobody has asked, 'hey, what happened there?'. Given the hustle and bustle, that can sometimes be home leave and appointments, or happy conversation, there was never an opportune time for me to really go into it remained unspoken about. So here's a fun little post....I will give three possible scenarios and you can choose which option to go with!! I'll start with the scar so you know your dealing with.....nothing huge but hard to hide!

Scenario 1: I was an extra in a Hollywood movie. There was scene with a guillotine. I happened to be one of the poor, unfortunate souls set to lose their head.....and there was a near deadly accident on set!!!!!

Supporting Evidence: a photo of the make put on me. This is after 11 hours on set, so it's starting to wear off where my sandels went over my foot.

Scenario 2: As you may recall, many Pacific Island nations once partook in cannibalism. Fiji being a Pacific Island nation once participated in this practice before the Christian missionaries arrived. The last recorded act of cannibalism was 1867. Though this is no longer practiced, the handicraft markets have a thriving business of selling some of the hand carved tools once used for this - such as skull smashers, neck breakers, brain forks and the like. They are beautifully carved and sometimes embedded with mother of pearl shells. They make for wonderful wall decorations and gifts for family/friends. Over our time in Fiji, we bought a large number of these from our friend, Max at the handicraft market. Though, with one such gift, in a demonstration of how one would use the neck breaker....let's just say someone may have been a tad overzealous!

Supporting Evidence: a neck beaker

Scenario 3:
Backstory - So years ago, during my pregnancy with Mason, my thyroid up and stopped functioning properly and I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Sometimes it is temporary, sometimes it is not. My hypothyroidism was not temporary and eventually I was also diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease. Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease where my body slow attacks and destroys my thyroid. As it does this, what little thyroid function I had became less and less and my medication dosage went up. Due to the need to monitor my thyroid levels (aka - lots of blood draws), I see an endocrinologist annually (or more frequently if my symptoms were really bad). Given we are overseas, I'm not in super close contact with my endocrinologist. So last year when I went to set up my appointment prior to our R&R (we'd been in Fiji over a year by a little late), I was quite surprised to find out my endo had left the practice! Given I had been with this practice for years and had a limited time in Charleston that year, they were able to get me in with a different doctor at a one of their other offices. When the new endo first takes on a patient, he likes to do a full work-up, including an ultrasound. Given, I met him a day or two before we flew back to Fiji there was no time for that. So he gave me orders to have an ultrasound done before I came in a year.

Fast forward to this year. We land in Charleston, I go for my blood draw, get my ultrasound done, and have my annual appointment with my endo. He says I have a nodule on one lobe of my thyroid. The protocol for nodules is: if less than 1 cm - wait and watch; if greater than 1 cm - biopsy. My nodule was 1.5 off for a biopsy I go! The doctor that does the biopsy says the results should be ready by Tuesday. I hear nothing, Richard and I head off to our training, I figure no news is good news. Then I have a follow-up appointment with my endo when I am back in Charleston picking up Clarissa. Results are back....papillary carcinoma....WHAT?!? I have thyroid cancer! Hit me like a ton of the word cancer always does! I would have to meet with the ENT for a consult before he did my surgery and I was set to drive back to DC the next day....aaahh horrible timing too! Luckily, my endo called the ENT and explained our DC training/overseas move time table and he was able to get me in that afternoon! I got my surgery schedule for a few days before Richard's training ended. My dad would watch Clarissa while Richard was in training, Mason would still be in Texas, I would fly down to Charleston and have my in-laws to take care of me....seriously...takes a village people...takes-a-village! So I had my surgery at the end of June. Given I only had a nodule on one lobe, I could have had only the one lobe removed. I opted to go ahead and remove my entire thyroid as it wasn't doing me hardly any good anyway (and the ironic part is my medication dosage only went up by about 25 mcg/ you it wasn't doing any good!). The after surgery pathology report showed another nodule starting to form on the other lobe. It came back benign, but over time it could have changed. So I am really happy with my decision...only one surgery and done. My ENT was phenomenal and all my parathyroids remained intact (the biggest risk of removing the whole thyroid) and my voice remained the same (the other big risk is vocal chord damage).

That's it! I am now cancer free! If you have to get a cancer, thyroid cancer is the one to get. It has the best survival rate (for stage 1, caught early, in people under 45 - aka me - 5 year prognosis is 99.99% survival)! Weirdly, I almost feel guilty for how "easy" it was to get rid of. I'm lucky in that due to my endo switch/R&R timing, my ultrasound got delayed. It's possible it would have been in the wait stage/not anything to worry about phase a year ago and it may have been longer before I got around to getting another one done and the prognosis would have been worse.

Supporting Evidence: my post-op photo I sent the kids/Richard to show them I survived surgery, was back 'home', and everything was good (then I went back to sleep).

So now you have the possible scenarios and their evidence......which scenario do you thing caused my lovely scar?!?!?!?

1 comment:

  1. Wow, didn't know what had been going on. I am thinking scenario 1 led to the need to have the ultra scan and this is when they found the problem and did surgery. Glad you found out when you did and are healing and feeling better