Friday, October 2, 2009

Know Yourself

Know Your Purpose: Know Yourself

"A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it. "

I figure at best, and if I'm lucky, I'm halfway through life already. And when I think about the first half I realize that I spent entirely too much time wandering around like a lost male refusing to ask for directions- all the while insisting things were going exactly as I had planned. I wasn't honest with myself.

You've probably sensed by now that my writing can get a little deep, which is also why I tend not to write as much anymore.

I've spent the last two years going through some grueling medical stuff. Things got really dark, really scary and really frustrating.

One day two years ago, I was eating pizza and all of the sudden it was as if my body had completely forgotten how to swallow. It was like I was an infant and someone just shoved a huge slice of pizza in my mouth and I had no idea what to do with it. I could chew, but could not swallow. I felt what I can only describe as a cross between choking (cough cough) and suffocating (as if I had inhaled the food into my lungs). It was pretty intermittent for several months and I just made sure to always keep something to drink with me whenever I would eat anything.

As time rolled on, it became more frequent and eventually became constant. I could not eat applesauce, mashed potatoes or even soup. It was ungodly how sad I became. I felt abnormal, I felt doomed and I certainly knew something was wrong with me.

I went to my primary doc who told me I had anxiety. I pleaded that she run some tests just to cross things off the list so she checked for asthma and for arthritis. All came back negative. Getting through the day at my desk job became extremely difficult as I would experience bouts of lightheadedness and near fainting just sitting doing nothing.

I stuck with that doc (had been with her since I was a child) and after months of no improvement followed by months of no offer to help I switched docs. I don't believe in doc hopping but I felt I had no choice. Found a doc who came highly recommended at the local teaching hospital and went to her. Right away she was suspicious of my thyroid and so she ordered thyroid labs and a barium swallow study.

Both tests came back with nothing. Thyroid was perfect and barium swallow showed no abnormal structures in my esophagus. I did find that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D (I had virtually NONE) so I started a supplement per her request. Three months went by with zero improvement.

I wanted to come back and beg for her to check further but she was on vacation. I saw her partner instead and he was very patient and understanding. He thought maybe I was having some sort of bad, obscure allergic reaction to something and put me on a strong antihistamine and a steroid. Let me just say that outside of feeling dryer than a bucket of sand and mentally disturbed, this did nothing for me. I persisted. He sent me to an ENT specialist (known around the world - VERY talented). Went to the dang ENT and he looked at me and gave me that "there's nothing wrong with you" look and said that the only things he could do would be quite invasive (tube through my nose and down my throat, etc.). He suggested a Neurologist.

I went to the Neurologist who ruled out MS, myashtenia gravis (a rare muscle disorder) and some other stuff he said I'd "probably never heard of and hopefully never will". God love him, I'd seen him for years when I was younger for bad headaches and was so glad he did the ruling out game with me. He could find nothing. I thanked him and went back to wanting to find a cliff to jump off of.

Circled back to my primary doc and explained to him that if he took a look at my history just from this current calendar year, he'd see I've lost 30 pounds. I was only 130lbs to begin with so 30 pounds was a HUGE amount. His eyes got as big as dinner plates. We reviewed how for two years now I cannot swallow and half the time cannot breathe. I showed him the area of my neck where I 'sensed' this coming from and lo and behold he grabbed a knot on the midline of my neck BIG ENOUGH TO HOLD ONTO. I thought he was going to pass out from the shock. He asked, "Have we CT'd this?". I told him NO that nobody had done any sort of imaging and that lots of bloodwork had been done by various docs but nobody actually looked to see what was in my neck.

He immediately referred me to the 3rd floor for a ct scan. Insurance refused because they are a bunch of assholes (sorry) after I waited TWO hours. They insisted I have an ultrasound first to make sure I wasn't some crazy woman with no need for a ct scan. Anyway, got the ultrasound and I'll be damned if there isn't a lumpy area in my neck with minor lymph node involvement.

Now, I didn't freak but only because my labs had all shown normal blood counts as recent as last week, so I didn't really believe it was the big "C". The doc --who was way hot by the way, looked like Matt Damon--, turned the ultrasound screen around and showed me the two little masses and said, "This is a Thyroglossal Duct Cyst and this is a lymph node that is really pissed off about the cyst being there."

I was so relieved it wasn't cancer and honestly was relieved that for the first time in two years I knew without a doubt I was NOT crazy. I sort of chuckled through my tears and told the doc he could say there was a hotwheel stuck in my throat and I wouldn't care at this point. He just smiled and reassured me that everything was going to be just fine. It's a simple surgical extraction that takes about an hour under general. He told me I would wake up a brand new woman.

He had the second doc come in just to give some additional input on the report and they took lots of extra ultrasound pictures and measurements. By the way, strangest compliment ever from a hot doctor. He said I have a beautiful neck. How sweet. At that point I stopped being pissed that insurance refused a ct scan. SEE everything happens for a reason :)

So here we are. I am going back to the head and neck/ENT specialist this Wednesday. I'm hoping he will assign me a surgery date. While I am terrified as hell about going under general anesthesia I want to wake up and go eat a fat steak for dinner!! My bro promised that was going to be my reward. The hubs said he has certain other plans.

This condition is a congenital defect that occurs between 4-7 weeks in utero. How crazy is that? Your thyroid starts out up in your mouth and descends down this thyroglossal duct. The thyroid gland lands just above your collarbone and the duct or tract is supposed to virtually disappear. Well, although my thyroid went where it should have, the duct never disappeared and some leftover tissue and other yummy stuff has built up in it causing this thyroglossal duct cyst. Due to its location, it presses in not only on my esophagus but on my trachea.. which is why I could NOT BREATHE!!

So here is why I believe it is important to know yourself. I recognized very early on that I had lost all ability to be myself through this ordeal. I lost my temper, I turned into a lump of pathetic spaghetti... I stopped showing love and affection because I was so caught up in being mad and depressed all the time. Physically my body was giving out from the malnourishment and constantly fighting to keep infection at bay. I became someone I hated. I started to cave to the idea that I had cancer (my dad died from it) and that one day I was just not going to wake up or something horribly sinister like that.

I know now that persistence was key. Sure, I'm sad that it took lots of pain and anguish and tons of time and money, but what's most upsetting is what it did to my family. I wish I could have been more of an optimist. I wish I could have taught my kids that the most important thing is never giving up. I suppose I did, but not with much grace. I put so many of my dreams on hold, indefinitely, because I couldn't think of tomorrow.

What I have now is the long list of things I want to do, feel, see and experience in this lifetime. I understand what it truly means to be thankful. I have experienced the real meaning of love from a husband and family who stood by me, put up with me and encouraged me to press on and get answers.

And I cannot omit mercy. Mercy has many different definitions, but my personal favorite is "the easing of distress or pain".

I am so thankful for the love and mercy I have been shown. I have found myself again and I surely understand my purpose. I was put here to be a wife and mother. I vow to never let anything get in the way of that ever again.


  1. wow what a journey.I had thyroid cancer twice and im always on the look out.Im glad youwere persistent.ITs the only way to guarentee your health.Nobody knows you like you.Good luck and hope you have a fast recovery

  2. mrsofficer I am so sorry to hear about you having thyroid cancer TWICE! I cannot imagine what you have been through. I hope that is all behind you now. Thanks for sharing and thanks even more for the well wishes. I'll keep my blog updated. :)