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!