Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tomorrow, I'm on the Table! #eek

At the ripe old age of nearly half a century, I'm about to have my first real surgery, and under the surface, I'm a basket case. I say "real surgery" because I've gone under the knife 3 times before, but it was for C-Sections, and there was no anesthesia except for the first time when I was 22 and I can't even remember back that far.

I'm terrified of all of it. From the initial diagnosis to getting cleared for surgery, it's been a quiet nightmare in my head.  The health care system is a giant, cold, complex, antiseptic, uncaring, set of people, machines, tests and tubes, waiting rooms, paperwork and bills that make me feel powerless, confused, undecided, frustrated and fearful at best. 

The doctors no longer look at you when they meet with you. Their attention is actually only 5% on you and 95% on the laptop or tablet or PC that they tap at and type in incessantly while you talk, hoping they'll actually make eye contact, and pay attention. They ask the same questions you've already been asked when you called to make the appointment, when you checked in with the receptionist, and when you were seen by the tech. They all tapped and typed in your answers as well, so you wonder, eloquently, in your head: "WTF?!" 

Everyone outside of the health care system has advice. Contradictory advice. The hardest to hear is the advice that this could all go away if I just had more of a commitment to alternative therapies like diet and natural supplements and meditation and whatever else. So let me get this straight:  I'm pretty much putting up with all the machines and the tests and the tubes and the bills and the impending surgery, and you're saying that I just need think my way back to health with positive thoughts and herbal tea? Of course then I was wishing that it were true so badly that, hopeful goofball that I am, I actually googled it. However, I concluded that I'd be dead before I figured all that out. It takes major research and commitment. There's a mineral or a food and/or a vitamin with potential healing properties for every minute of every day and every ailment known to man. I know everyone means well, and I really appreciate the concern.  I never know what to say to people when something like this happens, so I'm just glad people care enough to say anything. 

My favorite parts of this horror story so far have been the very beginning, "Getting the Diagnosis," and the most recent phase, "Getting Cleared for Surgery." 

The Diagnosis:
Me, at work, in the office kitchen, answering an unknown number (Never a good idea, am I right?!) on my cell phone: "Hello?"
Doctor Office Clerk: "Ms Bankhurst? 
Me: "Yes?" 
Clerk: "We have the results of your biopsy, and it's not good news. It looks like it's cancer." 
Me: "Looks like?"
Clerk: "The doctor is referring you to an endocrinologist." 
Me: "What exactly does 'looks like'  mean?" 
Clerk: "Do you have a pen? I have the number for his appointment line." 
Me: "Gah." 

The Clearing For Surgery Call:
Surgery Scheduler: "Ms Bankhurst? 
Me: "Yes."
Surgery Scheduler: "We have the results of your pre-op EKG. It's abnormal."
Me: "What does that mean?"
SS: "The doctor wants me to ask you a few questions to make sure you don't need a cardiac clearance for surgery. Do you or your family members have a history of heart problems or diabetes? Do you get short of breath running up the stairs?" 
Me: "Yes."*
SS: "Ok, I'll get back to you." 

The Next Day:
SS: "You're cleared for surgery." 
Me: "But what about that abnormal EKG?" 
SS: "The doctor says it's fine. Those things are not always accurate." 
Me: Gah.**

So, the end result of this 4 month journey is that tomorrow morning my thyroid is going to be removed. You can't live for very long without a thyroid, so I'll have to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life. Of course, since my thyroid has, (so I'm told, very scientifically, "worn out,") I'd have to take medication for the rest of my life whether it's removed or not. Either way, when the zombie apocalypse happens, I'm screwed --unless I've managed in the meantime to hoard a giant supply of synthroid. 

I know so much more than I ever wanted to know about the thyroid and how mine's failure to produce a hormone is probably responsible for a whole host of symptoms*** I've been putting up with for at least a year.  On the positive side, the meds will hopefully result in a reversal of those symptoms, but on the negative side, I'm having my throat slit open in the morning to find out for sure if it is actually cancer and if so, what kind and how far advanced it is in my poor worn out thyroid gland. 

People have been asking me how they can help, and I've decided that maybe scarves will help. I've never been much into that accessory, but if I (and my possibly abnormal EKG heart) live through this by-all-accounts-routine neck slicing tomorrow, I think I see lots of them in my near future.

How I will be feeling in the morning

*SS is the 5th person to ask me this question in this practice and I heard him typing and tapping away too..." 

**I've had heart palpitations since that day. 

***dry skin, weight gain, hair loss, and a bunch of other stuff I thought was just all about getting older.


  1. It's an awful thing to go through and I'm very disappointed but not surprised at how you have been treated, it's really angering and they continue to get away with it. I am glad to get some insight into how you're feeling, I know all is well and your surgery is going to go great.

  2. You are always in my thoughts but tomorrow especially so! Your *report is lighthearted but I can so relate to your trepidation. I feel certain tbings will go well on the table ha.