Working Overtime

I lay on the exam table ready for my gynecological exam.  The doctor stood next to me and began feeling around my throat. Wrong body part doctor, I thought.

“Did you know you have a lump here?” he asked, gently palpating the base of my throat.

“No,” I said.

“You need to have it checked out right away.”

“Well, I just started my summer term. Can it wait six weeks?”

“OK, six weeks and no longer.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. At 20 years old, I still hadn’t outgrown the invulnerable phase. By the time I dressed, I had already pushed it out of my mind. And then as I passed his open office door I heard him already on the phone discussing my case with the surgeon. Wow, I thought, he’s really worried.

I was admitted to the hospital on a Thursday afternoon, the day before the term ended. I had been allowed to do my open-book psychology final in the hospital. I sat cross-legged on the bed and did my test. My then husband would drop off the test in the morning after I was taken to surgery.

After the surgery, I came to and remember reaching out my hand for help. My husband was sitting there and spoke to me.

“It’s all over. You’re in your room now.”

I returned to oblivion.

I came to again, this time with nausea and the accompanying fear of choking to death as I was flat on my back and couldn’t move. I tried to speak and couldn’t. I reached out my hand again and there was no one there. I will never forget the terror I felt for those few seconds before the nurse appeared.

I went home Monday after the stitches were pulled. I never felt any pain. The diagnosis: Benign encapsulated thyroid tumor. Half my thyroid was left behind somewhere in that huge building called a hospital. I was lucky.

Fast forward a few years. I am now a nursing student and observing in OR. I get to see my surgeon in action. I am so excited. They set up a step stool for me; I stand 5’2” on a good day. Now I can see clearly.

I can see clearly how his hands are shaking and trembling all over the place. I focus on that and mentally wrap my hands around my throat in the universal sign of a choking victim.

Those hands, those hands were in my throat! It’s a wonder I didn’t cave and fall face forward into the patient’s open abdomen.


I share this (abridged) story from my work in progress about my nursing life only because my thyroid has taken center stage again. What’s left of it is apparently working overtime. I feel a little cheated because if my metabolism is revved up, as my labs reflect, I shouldn’t have any extra pounds to work off.

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LifeCore Fitness

But, alas, I do, and I have a new BFF to help me with that.

Yesterday, I had about a gallon of blood removed. At least it felt that way. The phlebotomist even asked if I was OK before the penultimate tube was filled. I was.

My PCP had wanted labs. I said let’s check my thyroid, but did he include a full profile? No. So I had to go back and it coincided with the regular labs for my rheumy.

In the past, I’ve been treated for hypo and hyperthyroidism, but for decades my labs have been normal. I’ve been scanned within an inch of my life, literally. That’s how close that behemoth of a machine feels next to my throat.

I’m sure that will come next, but for now I will concentrate on the Dick Dale concert we will attend tonight. We’re spending the night in Fort Lauderdale and throwing caution to the winds.

6 thoughts on “Working Overtime

  1. phat50chick

    So….is there any connection between having half your thyroid ripped out in your 20’s and your life long chronic ailments? Coincidence?

    I doubt it. As for pounds, I am finally feeling semi alert after the stomach flu this week. I definitely lost some pounds but I don’t recommend you do it my way…..

    1. Irma Post author

      I guess it falls in the autoimmune territory. I know what you mean about the stomach flu. I had it last weekend. Lost four pounds! Unfortunately, it was water weight. I hope you are feeling better soon. It took several days before I bounced back.

  2. J.G. Chayko

    I have only slight issues with my thyroid, but nothing like what you have gone through. I hope you can rev up your metabolism enough to get your thyroid back under some semblance of control and that it won’t be too much of an issue for you. I really enjoyed reading about your nursing life, and had a nice chuckle about the stool, because I too only stand at 5’2 – or is it now 5’1? LOL. Stay well.

    1. Irma Post author

      Thanks, J. I feel like I’m playing whack-a-mole sometimes. Something always pops up. I will never forget that day in the OR and only hope that his hands were much steadier years back when he did my surgery!

  3. Wren

    I used to stand 5’4″, Irma, but I’m sure I’ve lost a bit of that airy height (grin) to aging and osteoporosis in the last couple of years. I’ll have to ask the nurse next time I see my doc to measure me.
    Now, to the point: I’m sorry you’re having to deal with more thyroid issues. You’ve really been through the ringer this year, what with your eye and the usual RD aggravations. I hope it gets back under control quickly.
    I also understand the weight challenges. I’ve regained everything I lost several years ago, plus some (as always. sigh.). And, since starting both amlopidine for blood pressure and Humira(off that, now, though) I feel like an Oompa-Loompa. Extra chins, bloated body. I hate it. So I, too, am facing the serious need to lose weight again. My apartment complex just added a really nice gym, so I haven’t much excuse. And there are nice, safe, neighborhoods all around us to walk in. As for diet, well, I know what to do. I just need to work up the willpower to resist my mother’s (who’s been irritatingly thin and svelte her entire life) raging sweet tooth. I can’t ask her to give up cookies and candy just because I haven’t the strength of will to stay out of them…
    Well. I can do this. I’ve done it before. And I do like a challenge.
    Best wishes to you, Irma. Sending you a warm, gentle hug. 🙂

    1. Irma Post author

      Thank you, Wren. I, too, have gained much of what I lost, but all is not lost for I shall lose it again, if that makes any sense. Thankfully, I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but that doesn’t mean I don’t indulge in junk food, sigh.


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