Faith. What Does It Real Mean?

What does faith mean? Let’s get more personal, what does it mean to you? Do you have to be religious to have faith? Is it something you have to believe in? Or can you just have it? Is it like a good luck charm? Or is it something you can use? Can you cross your fingers and use faith? Is it like wishing on a star? Is it connected to a higher power? Does God have to be connected to faith? To tell you the truth, I don’t know. All I know is in the last four years my “faith” has been put to the test. My “faith” has brought me through. And my “Faith” makes me see life in a whole new way. Let me share my story with you.

I have had a goiter on my thyroid since I was a teenager. My TSH levels were always normal so it was not a big deal. You couldn’t tell unless you’re were a trained professional feeling up my throat. However, with pregnancy comes all kinds of tests and scans. It’s July 2012 and yup, we are finally pregnant with C4. It was a long road. More about that journey later. I promise.  So, with the pregnancy comes test, test and more test. I’m over thirty-five so I’m considered a geriatric pregnant woman. Ha! We gotta send you to endocrinology and get a scan of your thyroid just to see what’s going on. Fine. It’s routine.  Why does everyone always worry about this thyroid when I get pregnant? They don’t seem to worry about it any other time.

Lucky me. Since I work at the hospital, I don’t have to see a young bubbly resident. I get to see the seasoned endocrinologist that has no personality. YEA! Feels, feels, swallow, scan. Yep, you guessed it. “Oh”, he says, “you have a mass. It’s pretty small, we’ll just continue to watch it. Pregnancy can do funny things to the body. It may have been there for a while and with your growing hormones it has decided to grow. Well just keep an eye on your TSH levels and adjust your dosage of Lovonox if needed.” I was recently placed on Lovenox to help keep me pregnant and for the newly diagnosed Hashimoto’s disease. Fine with me. I had done my research on him and trust his opinion, so I did not worry. I had too much other stuff to worry about being a geriatric pregnant woman!

Fast forward, C4 was born. He was born 3:10 am on 3/10/13! Pretty cool, but THE WORST LABOR AND DELIVERY EVER!!!!!  He was perfect, not diabetic and a fully functioning thyroid. Fast forward to January 2016 and it’s time for a post-partum thyroid scan. I had put it off as long as I could. More poking, swallowing, getting my neck molested.  During this visit, my little friend, the nodule, was measured. Of course, the damn thing was 1mm above the “ok” measurements. I believe it was due to the pregnancy. What does that mean? It meant I now had to get the thing biopsied. Fine. Whatever. The thing has been there all this time, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing.

January 28th, 2014. 12:30 pm. I met with Dr. Carolyn Bruno. I was transferred to a new endocrinologist because of my growing friend. She was very personal, easy to talk with and  walked me through the biopsy process.  It’s important at this stage to have someone you feel you can be transparent with. I had this kind of relationship with her from day one. I always had more questions. And she would kindly answer them. It helped that she had been through the process herself.

January 30th, 2014. 1pm. Thyroid Biopsy. It was at another hospital. So, there were residents, staff, students, pathology, radiology…..  It was all too much. I was given an injection in my neck above my thyroid and was told a total of ten biopsies would be taken. Let’s just say it was the worst feeling ever, I felt every level of the needle entering my neck and then thyroid. I allowed them to poke me five times and then said enough. If you can, have a support person go with you. It is not only physically but emotionally draining.

Less than a week later, I got the results from the biopsy. Dr. Bruno called me and told me I had thyroid cancer. All I heard was cancer and blaa, blaaa, blaaaa. She said, “how about you come in and we can talk more?” “Yes”, that’s great. So, my husband and I went in and I had to hear those words again. You have cancer! Followed by, “Now, let’s remove it”. She explained how I would meet with a surgeon, discuss if a partial or total removal would be necessary, explained the medications I would be on, explained the possibility of radiation, bla, bla, bla. All I kept thinking was I am nursing my son. I will have to stop because of this. Funny what you chose to focus on when you hear bad news. She gave me the name of surgeon and said they will be contacting me soon. Asked if I had any more questions. This time I did not.

I had to let it all sink in. Two days later I called my work mom Opal. They say I have thyroid cancer I need the best surgeon. They must use Doctor Musklin’s closing method. This method did not leave the patients with post-op drains, the incision was less than three inches and she used internal stitches. The skin was closed with Dermabond skin glue. The patients always looked beautiful when she was finished. I could not use her because my doctor was in another hospital. But I knew she had trained many in this city and her methods were well know. About two hours later Opal called me back and gave me the name and phone number to Doctor Hadley Ritter. I called her immediately. I explained to the secretary who I was, who recommended me and what was going on. She asked if Tuesday would work for me and put me on the schedule. Boy, it sure helps to know people in the medical field. I could not imagine if this thing would have been drawn out for any length of time.

February 11th, I met with Dr. Ritter. This lady was amazing. She explained things in laymen’s terms for me. I asked her to forget I have medical background and to talk to me like I was any other patient. I told her not to sugar coat anything for me and most important did she know Dr. Muskilin method! Of course, she did.

February 20th, 2014, 8am, I arrived for my total thyroidectomy. I was no longer Angel, the CST, who has been in an operating room more times than I can to remember. I was Angel the patient, that was losing her cool, calling for the Chaplin, telling anesthesia I really didn’t want to be there, wanting to get up and leave, all with tears running down my face. I was a mess. I was a patient. I was scared.

I woke up later that evening. Not able to speak, with respiratory telling me to blow into this plastic thing. If I had the energy, I would have slapped her. I was trying to ask her questions and she just kept saying blow harder, if you blow harder, I can leave. I grabbed at my throat and that’s when she said, “oh, you just had throat surgery. I’ll come back later”.  Like really! Did you not read my chart? Next, the nurse came in. “Where is my husband?” “What?” “Where is my husband?” “What I can’t hear you?” This was when I realized I couldn’t speak. Fear took over and the tears started flowing. She handed me pen and paper. Husband? I scribbled on the paper. “Oh, he said he’ll be right back. I think he went to the gift shop or something.” Really? I gave him one task. Be here when I wake up. So, of course, I am pissed now. You had one job and you failed!!! It’s funny the things we remember when we look back!

My stay in the hospital was short. I was discharged the next morning with my new prescription of Synthroid and calcium. The stupid goiter had made the thyroid hard to get to, so not only had the surgery taken longer than expected my parathyroids were removed and then re-transplanted. Go figure. This caused my calcium levels to be significantly low and annoying tingling sensations in my fingers. Nothing calcium can’t fix. When I say calcium. I mean Tums! “Just chew on Tums when you feel tingling in your fingers.” OK, easy enough.

This is my story, my journey, my beginning of life without my thyroid. I never thought I would miss that small organ of mine. However, I made it! I made it through my first major surgery! Now, what would life be like without my thyroid? I would have to take a pill for the rest of my life. I would have to have annual tests. Will this scar heal? What will people think when they look at me? Will they see this scar first and then me? Do I cover it up? Will it fade away? Will I be able to lose the remaining twenty pounds I put on during pregnancy? Will I gain more weight, I have read that some people have after their thyroid is removed? All I know is, I do not like the unknown. Yep, somewhat of a control freak. But like everything else in my life, faith will get me through.