A week ago (March 4), I called Dr. Pardo’s office to find out if I needed to go up on Thursday for a second fine-needle aspiration on the cyst in the left lobe of my thyroid. He said that his initial aspiration came back normal for a benign cyst. Good news! But, he also was careful to let me know that his one sample just might not have gotten any “suspicious” cells, so his preference would be that I keep the second appointment.
On Thursday Mom and I drove back up to Annapolis, where I met another really nice, punctual and efficient set of staff and doctors. The nurse seemed to be choosing her words very carefully as she explained the procedure, unaware that I had already had a similar test done a week ago.
I interrupted her, “I get a stick-burn injection of novacaine, followed by a larger needle attached to an even larger syringe and the doc is going to drain the blood from this little alien life-form in my neck and see if he can get a good sample of cells, right?”
She looked up, surprised.
“Don’t worry, I’m not squeamish around needles.”
“Well that’s good, because I am!”
We both laughed. The Doc came in and that’s how the rest of my test went — easy banter, me cracking jokes and the two of them catching each other’s eye as if to say, “For real, yo?”
Have you ever watched, on TV, when they do liposuction on someone? That scrubbing motion they use with the wand to liquefy the fat under the skin? The way the doc moved the needle in my neck — testing the boundaries of that cyst — reminded me of that.
Now, when I was in Dr. Pardo’s office my cyst wasn’t something I could see or feel — but after the first aspiration it sort of, well, blew up. Enlarged with blood, my cyst became a cotton ball under the skin of my neck, slightly to the left. When I swallowed it moved up and down, and I could feel a constant pressure — not pain, but not comfortable either — where it sat in residence, filling up with blood like an internal tick.
The Doc actually aspirated my internal parasite cyst three different times, each time delivering a sample to a tray of glass slides. The nurse prepared the slides, staining them, and when he had drained almost half of my cyst the Doc took up his position at the microscope.
“My initial observation is that there is no cancer present — these are normal cells.”
My blood pressure dropped. My eyebrows shot up. He read the hope on my face, and the next statement was of the “we have to cover our asses and let you know that my word isn’t gospel” variety:
“The likelihood is that these results will mirror your initial aspiration results, but these still have to go to the lab. We’ll have results by the end of the day tomorrow.”
I got a small Band-Aid to cover what now looked like a spider bite on my neck — an angry little puncture wound that was beginning to throb. I imagined that the tick was heaving inside my neck, sucking for all he was worth as I acknowledged the Doc’s warning that the cyst would fill back up again (nothing he could do about it), and I thanked both the Doc and the nurse and gathered up my purse.
FAST FORWARD TO MONDAY, MARCH 9
8:30 p.m. — I’m sitting in bed with my laptop and Miss Kitty because I chose not to watch a Lifetime Movie Network flick with my parents after dinner when my cell phone rings. It’s Dr. Pardo — does this man ever stop working??
“Jennifer? It’s Michael Pardo. I just wanted to call and talk over the lab results of your thyroid test, the aspiration.”
What doctor calls a patient this late in the evening? My heart started jumping in my chest, and I slid Jack the Mac off my lap so I could clutch at the blankets. In the efficient, to-the-point manner that I so appreciated in his office, Dr. Pardo explained that my results were… Normal.
.. breathe ..
He then reminded me that my cyst is very large, comparatively, to a needle. That there is a speck of a possibility in this universe that there are ugly cells in that cyst, and we just weren’t able to acquire them. I saw where he was going, and interrupted.
“Doc, we talked about this last week — if the results came back ‘normal’ your advice was to still take out the left lobe, and I’m totally okay with that!” I explained that the cyst has gotten larger since the first aspiration and is now putting an uncomfortable pressure on my neck, and that I have no desire to take chances, especially when it is so large and inconsistent-looking.
Especially if I’m going to continue to refer to it as the tick in my neck, sucking my blood — ah ah aahhhhh…
I won’t say that he sounded relieved, but his voice relaxed on the phone knowing that I wasn’t freaking out about having to proceed with surgery even though technically it looks like I’m fine. Normal.
heh… (Jen prepares herself for pot-shots. Normal?!)
At some point this week I will be scheduling my surgery — probably for after I get back home from Max and Jenn’s Colorado wedding, so the end of April or early May. I’m looking at an overnight surgery, and about a week of recovery.
My goal will be either to morph into a post-op Superhero by my birthday (May 23), or to successfully maintain the finishing touches of my Halloween 2009 costume as Frankenjen.