Just A Tiny Bit Of Cancer

Overview of the thyroid system (See Wikipedia:...

Overview of the thyroid system (See Wikipedia:Thyroid). To discuss image, please see Talk:Human body diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Demi, one of my oldest best friends has just been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. “The good kind of cancer” as she was told. “If you are going to get cancer, have thyroid because it is contained.” It’s not like breast cancer or bone cancer or ovarian cancer and it’s not pancreatic so be thankful for what you have. But, it’s one weird way of thinking even though I guess I can understand it. From what these doctors have said she has the “good” kind of cancer but she’s not feeling so happy.

She had waited a good two and a half weeks for the results from her thyroid biopsies. They weren’t unclear, they were short-staffed and it was around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Try not to be sick around the Holidays, please.  I did research for her especially from my neighbor across the street, who had gone through the same, exact process six years ago.  She said and I quote:”If I can give any advice, I would tell her not to take the chance that I did and only have half the thyroid removed. If there is suspicion of cancer, let them take the whole thing out. You don’t really need your thyroid anyway.” I totally agreed, because if it was cancerous, why have two separate surgeries?

Coming from my family where three out of three of us are on Synthroid (brand name only which is like a Bible to us) I talked to my friend daily. She had slide after slide of her thyroid tested without surgery, all results came back “inconclusive.” What the hell is “inconclusive” anyway? Who likes “inconclusive?” You sure can’t celebrate but there’s no reason for weeping. Inconclusive is just that, to me, basically a shrug of the shoulders signifying “we have no idea,  could go either way “60 percent chance there is no cancer, 40 percent chance there is” quoted top specialists at both Memorial Sloan Kettering and St. Francis Hospital in New York according to my friend.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve she gets the call from her surgeon and it IS cancer. I stop breathing, I am in shock and so is she. I remember saying to her “Wait, what?” She tells me again. We are both in shock. So now she waits, until the puffiness around her scar from her first surgery goes down before she goes in again for the rest of her thyroid to be removed and a nodule to be removed as well. More surgery, more anesthesia, more pain. It was the first time that she and I, usually pessimistic, chose to be positive and optimistic and spiritual. The one time. As soon as I heard the news, I looked at my husband and said “see what happens when I am optimistic?” He replied dryly: “I was waiting for that….”

I knew my best friend, stubborn, beyond stubborn,would not heed my neighbor’s advice or mine. If it didn’t NEED to come out it was staying inside her body. I can understand that (well, I cannot) but I knew she felt this way. This dear woman will not even take an aspirin or any type of medicine unless she absolutely is forced too. Compared to her I am a junkie waiting for Methadone. Having Fibromyalgia I know pain, all too well and even with prescribed medicine it does nothing for the pain.

When she told me that she did, indeed, take the pain medicine in the hospital and stayed overnight I was in surprised but happy she was open-minded. Now, post surgery, her surgeon is getting annoyed at her repetitive questioning. You know that tone: “AS I SAID BEFORE…” not good. But, good for my friend that she keeps asking until she gets her answers. Way to go, girlfriend.

She has another three weeks to go until the next thyroid surgery. This time, I’m wearing black, I’m feeling negative, doomed and totally pessimistic. Bad news all around. We both are. We deserve it. That’s what best friends are for.

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My Fellow Epiglottitis Peeps- A Follow Up

throat diagram

Image via Wikipedia

When I first had my two bouts with Epiglottitis (OUCH)  no one had ever  heard of it. Even my ENT said and I quote: “how the hell did you get that?”  If I could have spoken in spite of the pain I may have said ” How do I know? You’re the doctor.” But speaking, swallowing, breathing was pure torture and being in such intense pain makes you less than quick with a comeback. When I first posted “Calling Epiglottitis A Bitch Is A Vast Understatement” I wrote it for myself. Why did I have to get this pain? But, if it’s something unusual, it softly calls my name.

When I had Epiglottitis I told people it was the worst pain I had ever had, that childbirth was a cinch in comparison. When my two awful experiences had finally passed I asked every Dr. and medical person, if I could SOMEHOW prevent this from happening again. The answer was an unequivical “NO.” I scheduled an appointment with my internist just to discuss this and begged, pleaded and cried for the vaccine that is given to children. Another “NO.”  She said it was for infants only. That seemed drastically unfair. After all, if those babies could have it why couldn’t iI have it? Give me 100 times the dose if you want, anything not to have to go through horrific, burning, stabbing, knife-in-the-back-of-the-throat pain again.

How does one get it? What is it? Apparently, it’s a virus. I know, when there is something doctors don’t know for sure they call it a virus but apparently this is one and a nasty one at that. It could be related to the Herpes Simplex virus, I was told, but maybe not…..It is frustrating and painful and so far this year (fingers crossed) I didn’t get it but I do live in constant fear of getting it again. No joke.

Did anyone get it this year? I  hope you didn’t or if you did that it was a mild case (oh, who am I kidding there is no such thing as a mild case, it’s outright torture.) My ENT treated it with Prednisone, Valtrex and some special rinse, (and maybe something else, not sure) it helped…..after what seemed like an eternity.  It will not go away on its own, beg for pain medication.

For those of you who wrote back to me with your comments, thanks. We helped each other. Never before had I heard of this bolt of lightning in the back-end of the throat, and hearing from you made me feel better, validated. Unbelievably, my blog post “Calling Epiglottis A Bitch Is A Mild Understatement” gets so many hits on my blog consistently. As you know, I blog about everything: food, Fibromyalgia, feelings, fun, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Chronic Pain,TV, music, food, children, parents, grief, love and loathing. I blog when I am happy or sad, about funny things, family (they are not too happy when I write about them) my dog and dessert. But, this post about Epiglottitis constantly and consistently gets hits and I’m wondering why. Do more people have it now? Did it become an epidemic? I thought I was the only one in the world that had it, (clearing my throat) twice.

Here’s to you, my Epiglottitis Peeps, If anyone has any updates or insights, let me know. Or if you have had it recently, I am here to commiserate. I wish I could offer you a magic cure, I wish I could offer myself a magic cure  but none exist. I’m here, though, to share your pain. Believe me, I understand it completely!

p.s. One important tip: if you have had this once, and feel a bad sore throat coming on, go directly to an ENT and not an Internist. My ENT gave me that advice, don’t wait around a week, like I did, waiting for it to get better. Get it scoped, diagnosed and treated before it gets any worse.