Is It Just Always Something?

Two weeks ago, in an entry in which I felt I overshared a bit too much of my medical appointment information ("A Smattering of Diabetes Oversharing"), I wrote that despite an overwhelmingly positive six-month physical, I’d be headed back in a few days for yet another ultrasound. Seems that there’s always loads of positive feedback at the doctor’s office, but it’s often followed by that "But…"

This time, the ultrasound was for my thyroid. My doctor noticed a slight change in size and wanted to get a closer look, so I spent 20 minutes on a table while the radiology technician gooed up the wand (or whatever that thing is called) and ran it back and forth across my throat, snapping dozens and dozens of digital pictures of my thyroid.

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The next day, I received an e-mail from my doctor. The radiologist saw a small nodule on my thyroid (less than 2 centimeters), and after they had reviewed the results with my endocrinologist, they agreed that I should have it biopsied to make sure it’s nothing to be concerned about.

She (my doctor) suspects it will be benign (“not a big deal”) but recommended that we make sure. I agreed, and I was to await a phone call from the nurse to set up the appointment in radiology at the hospital.

After I read my doctor’s email, the first person I contacted regarding the findings was my wife. And then both of us got online and did some searching for “thyroid” and “nodule”; then we looked further into “ultrasound” and “biopsy” and “FNA” (fine needle aspiration).

As many of you probably already know, thyroid nodules are not something that a person should get too terribly worked up over. The Mayo Clinic defines thyroid nodules as “solid or fluid-filled lumps that form within your thyroid…the great majority of thyroid nodules are noncancerous and don’t cause symptoms. A small percentage of thyroid nodules are cancerous.”

Neither my wife or I knew much about thyroid cancer, however — I knew pretty much zilch. And although we continued to read info from credible online sources and digested the statistics about how such a high percentage of nodules are benign, that a large percentage of the population have nodules and don’t even know it, and they’re fine, it’s that word that lurks when the nodule isn’t fine. Cancer has a tendency to cause anxiety.

So I kept reading, and reading, and soon I was convinced that even a worst-case scenario wouldn’t be a complete nightmare.

My interior monologue went something like this: “OK, the chances of this being anything other than a benign nodule are slim to none. I don’t have any symptoms of thyroid cancer. And…and even if it was cancerous, three of the four types of thyroid cancer are easily treated. The worst-case scenarios for this nodule being cancerous still show a pretty high success rate for treatment. So that’s not so bad. But why should I even be speculating and worried about that? It’s nothing. It’s nothing. It’s going to be nothing…”

A few days passed before I was called for the appointment. OK, not true. It was about four days — four days too many for my wife. I called the doctor twice to try to expedite things. I wasn’t too concerned about pushing through the biopsy ASAP, but my wife and my mother (with whom I also shared the nodule information) aren’t fans of the not-knowing. So I agreed to speed things along by calling to make the appointment.

My wife has said several times, “Just no more medical drama, please!” I agree. But here’s the thing: I won’t be going in for my ultrasound biopsy until April 23.

Once that’s over, I’m sure you’ll hear about the experience as well as the results.

Yep, that Eric: more oversharing.

  • margrreet

    April 23rd is a Thursday.

    In my house, if we’re worried about the outcome of a medical test, we schedule for Monday thru Wednesday. Fridays are the worst because then you have the whole weekend to enjoy one anxiety attack after another. Thursdays aren’t much better, because chances are the lab won’t have the results back until Monday anyway.

    Sometimes we have no choice in the matter, but it never hurts to ask. Think, Man, think! ;o)

    PS Since DH has had an organ transplant, we’ve had a lot of opportunity to hone our medical appointment skills.

  • Peter Mead

    Eric, Yup, our job is to get our attention off our bodies and into positive, creative things. But Diabetes is accompanied by much support and analysis and it all has the net affect of riviting our attention on our bodies and what-if senarios. Anyway, enjoy the emotions, because it is all going to turn out to be nothing and at least you will have the emotioanl experience to look back on.

    Peter

  • LP

    Eric,
    I’ve followed your blog since you began writing it, and I always enjoy your posts.
    I was diagnosed with Type I not long before you were, and I feel like my experiences have had a lot in common with yours… and now even more so.
    I had a thyroid nodule this past summer that I had to get checked out. I sympathize with all of the worries and anxiety, and hope that it ends up just something to keep an eye on (as these nodules often are).
    Thank you for all of your great posts, and know that others are thinking about you. The oversharing is appreciated!
    Laurel

  • Elaine

    Eric,
    I just wanted to tell you that I have Diabetes also..and I have also had nodules on my thyroid. I did have the left side removed a few years ago..and still have them on the right side. I go once a year for a sonogram. I wanted to tell you that the biopsy is absolutely nothing. It isn’t really uncomfortable at all..and is very fast. The needle is just as It says Fine..really fine. They will use the sonogram probe to find the exact spot to place the needle for the biopsy so its pretty fast. They kind of scratch the nodule with the needle..but you honestly feel very little. The results usually come back fast also. I thought that maybe hearing it from someone else that had it would help. I had no one to ask…I hope that this helps you…Keep us updated..