Thursday, June 18, 2009

Moving forward

Not many posts lately.... I'm in a sortof netherworld of waiting. I've been fighting with Kaiser to get a straight answer as to whether I can get a second opinion outside of my plan, and now I'm not even sure I'm going to bother. At least I finally got some sort of assurance that yes, I CAN see whomever I please (thank you!), but it'll take a few weeks to secure an appointment with the folks I'm thinking of (at UCSF) and I really don't know about waiting that long. As it is now, I have an appointment tomorrow with a lady endocrinologist, with Kaiser. I'm not sure if a second biopsy is in order for tomorrow - probably not. But I will discuss that option, and whether there's any likelihood that my first biopsy could have been a false positive. That's almost too miraculous to hope for, but it needs to be considered - I don't want them hacking open my neck just to realize "Ooops, our bad, not cancer. Enjoy life with half a thyroid!"
I do have a surgery date, but since I'm in a vague state of semi-denial I haven't really told anyone yet, so I'm not announcing dates on my blog yet. But it's so weird to get a letter in the mail from Kaiser that says, essentially, "Hi, your surgery is happening on this date. You're meeting with the anesthesiologist on this [earlier] date. You'll be owing us this much money."

As to how I'm feeling about it all, every day is different. It's basically living with a feeling of overwhelming suspense. I can't let it get to me all the time, but it definitely seeps in. I'll wake up in the morning thinking about life after surgery. I'll be daydreaming and catch myself thinking about all the stuff that could go wrong. But then sometimes I'll feel great, and think that it's not such a big deal. I'm finally getting my head back in the game at work, which is a great feeling. I'm realizing how much I've put on the back burner as I basically freaked out in waves over the past month. Now I'm gritting my teeth and getting on with it, and that feels good. But it's perfectly likely that tomorrow or the next day I'll be petrified again. This is all so dumb, I just can't wait for the scary parts to be over so I can get thru to the other side and see what I really am dealing with - and not just worry about what might happen.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Magic 8 Ball

I dreamt last night that after my surgery the doctors handed me a selection of pills (to regulate my thyroid hormone) and said "Try these, and see which work out for you." A few were tiny, some were big, round and flat, and one was smallish and shaped like a ball. It was white and had a blue fluid inside, with something floating within that fluid, like little pill-sized magic 8 ball. It didn't say anything in my dream, but I'd like to imagine that this little pill had a fortune floating within it, and that it said "All signs point to yes."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Preserving my beautiful voice.

Still waiting to schedule surgery. Technically I'm waiting for them to call me, tho I can call & schedule any time. I've been mulling over the best time to have this whole business done, and am probably going to aim for mid-July. This will be a slow time at work (I'll be taking at least a week off) and will allow me to fully enjoy the 4th of July and my beloved San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
I emailed the surgeon today and asked for some details re. the potential for permanent vocal cord damage during surgery. I'm slightly nervous about surgery, but really nervous about nerve damage in there. The idea of being under anesthesia & having my throat cut open bothers me less than the thought of having a permanently messed-up voice. I know it's rare, but it could happen. I asked: What does he do to protect the vocal cord nerves, and how often has he seen permanent damage occur in his own practice? His response:

I use an endotracheal tube ( the breathing tube) that monitors the nerve that moves the vocal cords in addition to identifying the nerve and preserving it during surgery. I have seen permanent injury twice so far. Fortunately, one of the patients voice recovered to her satisfaction. The other one where it occurred was in a very large tumor (the size of a grapefruit). I hope that helps. I will let my scheduler know you are waiting for surgery.

Deepak Gurushanthaiah, M.D.

I think this is satisfactory. I'll still worry, but at least I know the odds of me being permanent-injury-recipient #3 are pretty slim. I do find it amusing that he actually used the "tumor the size of a grapefruit" analogy. Bleah.