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.
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.