Friday, June 18, 2010

Pre Op

Today, I had my pre-op appointment with my fabulous ENT regarding my surgery on Thursday. I walked in the door with a list of questions, but true to form, my self-admitted OCD doctor began answering all of them right away.
Basically this is what I learned:
  • He is going to make an incision starting just below my left ear to remove the affected lymph nodes. At that point the pathologist who will be in attendance will prepare and confirm the cancer diagnosis.
  • Next, he will continue the incision to remove my thyroid, preserving as many of my parathyroids as possible so I don't have to spend my life living on calcium and vitamin D supplements.
  • While he is in the area of my thyroid, he is going to take a peek at the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck. If those look affected then he will continue the incision around to just under my right ear.
  • So, if you're keeping score I will literally be cut from ear to ear. Wonderful. The good thing is that my ENT is known for being the best in his field for this type of surgery and spends extra time at the end ensuring that his patients don't appear to be attacked by Hannibal Lector.
  • I will be not in the actual hospital, as we originally thought, but will be having the surgery and staying the night in the diagnostic center next door. I wasn't aware that they were able to accommodate this type of care, but apparently they are their very own hospital and even have an ER there. I will be in great care there.
  • The part I'm most worried about is that I will have not one, but two drains in my neck. They have to remove these and you can probably imagine how they do this. Basically, they just pull them out. Sounds like a party, huh?!?
  • I will be in the hospital around 2 or 3 nights, but made it very clear that I didn't want to leave with the drains. I would rather not come home with those, so I told him that I would rather stay a bit longer to have them removed there then have to come back to have it done.
  • The pathologist that examined the product from my biopsy is requesting that he be the pathologist on this case during the surgery. Even if it means he comes in on his day off.
  • All of my doctors know what is going on and my ENT took time out to call my PA at my regular doctor's office to tell her that she did a fabulous job in sending me right over and helping me to get this diagnosed. I felt the same way, but for a doctor of his caliber to call a PA at another practice and encourage her like that speaks to the amazing character that he has.
  • The anesthesiologist is the same one that my doctors has done all thyroid cases with for the past 16 years. She is supposed to be amazing and has more experience with this type of thing than most anyone in the field.
  • After the surgery, the only follow up treatment that I will have to have done is a radioactive iodine pill that I will swallow and then be scanned. Since your thyroid is the only organ to be significantly affected by iodine, this irradiated iodine will be taken up in those cells to the point at which they will die and I'll excrete them in my urine. If only all cancer treatments were that cut and dry.
  • My surgery is scheduled for 11am on Thursday and it will last around 5 hours.

I guess my general sentiment through this whole thing is that, for the most part, I have been put in the path of some pretty incredible medical personnel. All of them have listened to me and treated me like a person, not a case or disease, and have just been amazing.

Thank you all for the prayers, well wishes and offers of help for me and my family. Please, if you feel lead, to keep me and my family in your prayers on Thursday during my surgery. Love to all of you!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Low Down

Sorry about that cryptic post, but I just didn't know what or how to say anything else at that point. I am fully recognizing that I am quickly moving through the stages of grief and am firmly rooted, at the moment, in the stage of just being extremely ticked off at the whole thing.
I spoke, at length, with my doctor's nurse on Friday and my surgery is scheduled for the 24th, which is a week from this coming Thursday. I was initially hoping to do it this coming week but there is another, bigger case scheduled for that day that my doctor must take care of. After thinking about it and consulting my calendar, it just made sense to leave it on the 24th so that I can appropriately cancel/reschedule things and get everything settled for my students.
Oh, yes, that's a whole other issue. I just finished up the first of a 5 week semester and I'm going to have to bow out just over half way through. That should go over well with my students.
Anyway, the surgery is slated to take about 5 hours and I'll be in the hospital for around 3 to 4 days. So, it appears that I'll be there at least through Saturday, maybe Sunday. I really couldn't ask for better timing. My mom is going to be off and stay with me Thursday through Wednesday, then Jes is going to take the Thursday and Friday of that following week (as well as the proceeding one too) off so that I get a whole week of help before I am turned loose with both kids on my own.
All in all, this whole nightmare has had some definite points of light, the brightest ones being the doctors that I have had on this journey. My ENT, the one who will be doing the surgery is amazing. This is the same ENT who treated Caleb when he was in the NICU right after birth. The amazing thing is that he remembered us the moment he walked in the door at my first appointment back in February. This doctor has also called me on multiple occasions to discuss not only test results but to also make sure that I'm ok and just check up on me. I've always said that I didn't really care if a doctor had a great bedside manner, but to have one that is just amazing has totally changed my point of view. He, and all his staff and partners in his practice, have been fabulous and I know will be better than I could have ever hoped for to help us through this process.
I have a pre-op appointment with my ENT on Friday where I'm going to ask all the questions that I have about the present and future treatments that I may or may not need to have. I have 30 minutes scheduled with him and you better believe that I'll use every minute of that!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Why I REALLY Think Cancer Sucks.

I got my biopsy results back on Wednesday.
I have papillary thyroid cancer.
Just lovely.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


This past Saturday, my mom and I decided to take the kids to the Dallas Zoo. Piper is fairly obsessed with all things animal and Caleb just down right loves the zoo, so we made the trip.

We decided to ride the train down to the zoo, partly because Caleb loves the train oh so much and also because we didn't want to pay for parking. Call us cheap. Here is Caleb having the best tme.

Piper, being my child* through and through, was not happy in the least to be on the train until the end. Here she is with my Mama, just having the best time.

*Little known fact about me, I cannot stand trains. I am not afraid of them, but I have a deep and abiding disdain for all things trains.

The zoo has a new exhibit where all the larger animals are now living. The elephants were just beautiful and majestic to look at, but the big draw was having the ability to feed the giraffes. Caleb wanted to do this, so I plunked down my $5 for the 5 pieces of Romaine lettuce that we were allowed and we went and fed the giraffes. It was an experience and Caleb loved it. Piper, in the mean time, had a visit from a giraffe, not far from us, when said giraffe decided to hit her up for food. She just calmly looked over and said, "Hi giraffe!"

We took the monorail, thinking that the kids would love to see the animals from on high, but really it was more of an exercise in trying to get the kids to sit down before they fell into the lions' den. Here are Piper and I riding the monorail. Did I mention that this was 10am, and it was 842 degrees?

Caleb and I also got to ride a camel. I can't really elaborate on that one as I came away from the experience telling myself that I could have lived without having done that. Maybe that was from the fact that I was directly on the hump. Um, ow. Caleb loved it, though and now we can both say we've ridden a camel!

At one point in our visit Caleb started complaining that he was tired, so my mom decided to rent one of these cute wagons. It seemed like a great idea until we realized that we had to pull/push this nearly 80 pounds of kid up and down fairly large hills. Next time the kid will just have to tough it out. We nearly killed ourselves!

Last on our journey was a ride on the merry go round. True to form, Piper was quite nervous about this, but I knew once it started she would love it, so I basically forced her to ride. As soon as her horse started rising and falling she couldn't help but giggle.
We had a great time and probably lost a few pounds from all the sweating. Win win!