Monday, May 11, 2015

My Scary Past Few Weeks, and Why I Haven't Been My Normal Blogging Self

I know over the past month, I haven't been my usual self, and I know it's probably been noticeable on the blog, especially on my Monday posts.  Those of you who read my blog frequently, may have noticed, or not.

With the walking pneumonia and then what I am about to share with you, I have gone through a lot lately.

I actually almost didn't write this post, which is why I am so late getting it up today.  Originally I thought I would just keep it all to myself and a small circle of family and friends who I let the secret out to while I was going through it all.

But then I realized, this is my life and I don't want others who read my blog to only think I post about the good things. So I would like to share with you all my personal story, of my far to close brush with cancer.

Sorry for the lengthy post, I will not be offended at all if no one but me ever reads the whole thing:)

HOW IT STARTED
It all started a little over 2 weeks ago.  I was finishing up with the horrible upper respiratory problems.  I had been up in the night coughing, but I didn't think much of it, because I felt like other than being super tired I was getting better.
I went to work at the library that day, and I sat down at the up front desk and for some reason put my hand on my throat.
Immediately I noticed a HUGE bump.  I ran to the bathroom to look in the mirror.  It looked like I had a golf ball size lump sticking out of my throat.  I was mortified!
My first thought was, it must be from all the coughing the night before, maybe I pulled something?? I didn't like it but figured it appeared out of nowhere, maybe it would leave the same way!

2 Weeks ago MONDAY
The lump seemed to only be getting larger, it seemed to stick out an inch, it was swollen up half of my neck.  So I called and made a Dr. Appointment for the next day.
This is what Day 1 looked like

2 Weeks ago TUESDAY
My doctor came in, and asked me a few questions.  He was immediately concerned he ordered a bunch of blood work to be done.
Good thing I don't mind needles too much.  The nurse even believed me when I told her which vein would be best to take it from, and she got it first try.  Which is rare for me, they always have a hard to find veins!
The doctor gave me a specialist he recommended and told me I needed to get an Ultrasound done as soon as possible.
Although he didn't say the big C (Cancer) word, I knew what he was thinking as it was implied.
Although the lump was near my thyroid, my symptoms and how quick it came on didn't match that of something related to thyroid.  He told me, not to worry just yet.

I left the office and got a phone call almost before I even got home.  The nurse called and said, they didn't want me to wait and schedule it myself.  She had called the hospital and scheduled my ultrasound for the next day.  They told me to cancel anything I had going because I needed to get in asap, she said this wasn't something that I could wait on.

2 Weeks ago WEDNESDAY
I had the ultrasound.  The tech who preformed it was nice, but not too chatty while she was doing it. I was watching the screen and I saw a huge black mass, but to my untrained eye I just assumed it was my throat or something...
When she finished, as I was walking out of the room with her.  She turns to me, and says "it doesn't look like too much to worry about right now, but I will send it on and let them decide" and that was it.
I probably should have asked more.  But oh well......  My Dr. was out of the office on Thursday, so I knew I was going to have to wait until Friday to get the result.

MY FIRST MOMENT
So as I left the hospital, I was close to the mountains so I took a drive up one of my favorite canyons. I don't cry, but as I was driving I couldn't help but get slightly worried.
I hate to admit it out loud, but I had about 2-5 seconds where I teared up, before I took a few deep breaths to let it go.
I kept telling myself, I am just overly tired, and although this lump is huge I am sure nothing is wrong, I feel mostly fine I am just really tired.

(When I say tired, I mean I literally don't wake up unless someone wakes me, and I was frequently sleeping until noon easy... Then taking another nap or two during the day.)

I enjoyed my evening up the canyon, I even splurged and ate a fast food picnic when I stopped on my drive.  I wasn't caring about calories at that point, and french fries taste so good!

2 Weeks ago FRIDAY
I was working at the library and I knew I would be getting a call, so I had my phone on me.  About 2pm that afternoon the nurse called me.
She was overly concerned, far more than me.  She told me, the results showed 2 cysts on my thyroid. One was a smaller hard mass, and the other was a much larger non hard one.
I was doing okay, and was in denial that anything could be wrong.  But then she said, we just haven't seen one this size before, and the Dr. and we are very worried.  She told me I needed to get into Radiology asap and get a biopsy done.
My blood results hadn't come back yet.
The nurse although making me more concerned because she seemed to be far more upset about it than I was, was awesome.  She told me all the other details, and said she didn't want me to wait she would call around and try to get me in.
She did, she called every hospital in the valley that day, they wanted to get me in that same day. Unfortunately it was too late in the afternoon all the hospitals were booked.
She called me back and apologized that she couldn't work any magic to get me in, and kept saying how it wasn't good if I waited, but the earliest she could get me in was Monday.
She was upset that I had to wait over the weekend.
After the call, I called my parents and told them the news.

MY 2nd MOMENT
I was actually thankful I was working, it made this moment a little less of one.  But I did go back in the "stacks" away from people for a few minutes to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that I am find, everything is going to be fine. Because it had to be!

LAST MONDAY
My mom did offer to go with me, but I was going with the mentality, it's no big deal so I drove myself.
On my drive to the appointment, I wont lie, I just kept telling myself that it's not possible anything can be wrong.  I selfishly told myself, my life isn't all that great right now to begin with, it's not like another thing could be thrown on me, I couldn't see how Cancer would fit in my life.
There was a bit of praying that went on, of course I had been doing that for a week already.  I did have a feeling I was fine though.
I was actually more upset that I was going to have some huge medical bills coming.  Yes I have insurance, but I have always been pretty healthy so I have a high deductible.  So basically, I know I have to pay for pretty much all of this out of my own pocket.
I kept getting mad, because I literally just finished the month before paying off my medical bills from my tendon injury.  I had been saving to run a few marathons this fall..  But now all that savings was going to go to this... I wasn't happy, and I was scared.

After Biopsy, less lump
but very swollen neck!
THE BIOPSY
Okay, so if you have never had this done.  I won't tell you all the yucky parts, but I am going to say some.  So if you don't like hearing bloody details.  Then skip the next 2 paragraphs.

So for the biopsy on your throat, you are awake during it.  I had a great RN and Dr. who came in, they gave me all the details on what to expect and it sounded pretty awkward but easy.
First a needle goes in, and gives you a slight numbing agent, kind of like the same thing they do to your teeth when you go to the dentist.  It feels like a bee sting and then burns for a second.
Then they take the bigger needle and go in, and in my case they decided to do the largest one first.
(That mass I thought was my throat, ya that was the cyst.)
My large cyst was in-between the size of a golf ball and a baseball. *cringe, ya..*
Since they were taking the stuff inside for biopsy, I asked them to drain it all, because I wanted the lump gone.
They said they would take it all, but it might not get rid of it. (I didn't like that answer:)
Can I just tell you, this is an awkward feeling.  It didn't hurt at this point, but felt weird.
Once he had all the stuff out, he was amazed at how much came out, he even said look at all that was in it.  I looked...  It was bloody gross, and a lot.  I am not squeemish, thankfully!
Seriously, you probably could have filled 1/2 cup with it, I knew it must have been big, but I had no idea....  Guess that is why I felt like I had something pushing on my throat, and why my voice was slightly altered.

Then they take this other needle thing, and stick it back in and poke around.  This hurts, I won't lie. But I read online that if you relax when they do things like this, the recovery time is faster, and possibly less bruising.
So ya, I used the same thing I do when I run a marathon and hit that point where it hurts.  I focused my attention on other things, and I made my entire body relax and not tense up.
The Dr. and Nurse were talking to me during it.  Since they were asking me questions, I felt weird talking with needles in me poking around, but it helped keep my attention on the subject not the needle and the ultrasound screen I was watching.

They repeated the procedure again on the smaller harder one, it was less gruesome, but for some reason all the poking on that one hurt a lot more.

MY PROUD MOMENT
When I finished the Dr. says to me.
WOW, never let anyone tell you, you are not tough.  He said he has never had anyone go through what I just did, and appear so relaxed and handle the pain the way I did.
The nurse says, yes, oh my gosh you didn't even flinch.
Don't ask me why I would actually take pride in this, LOL but I did.  Ya I am a dork!
My first thought was to a few of my marathons, I almost wanted to tell him, he has no idea how tough I really can be:)

QUESTIONS
They were great to answer all my questions before I asked, but I did ask a few.  They told me it would take 3-4 days to get the results from the biopsy.
But the Dr. said that in his experience, the really juicy ones like I had in the one larger one are generally non cancerous.  The smaller, he just said, didn't seem to be anything I should worry about right now either.
But they did warn me that there was about a 25% chance I may have to have this redone in a week, if it didn't give them what they needed.  (I didn't like that. so I decided to ignore that part a little.)
Also, after he finished, he went back with the ultrasound and looked at the larger one, and said it already appeared to be starting to fill up again... (Ya, I didn't like that either!)

THE PAIN
Okay, when they say you may experience "some" pain.  They say it like its nothing, so when they told me this and gave me the ice packs and instructions.  I was like, how bad could it be, aren't I over the worst of it???
Also they neglected to warn me the weekend before that I wasn't going to be allowed to lift anything heavy for 3 days.....  I had a huge wedding I needed to get ready for later that week.
OMG, OMG, OMG the pain started before I even got a mile down the road.  I was wishing I had taken my mom up on the offer to drive me.
I was pretty much icing it a little each hour for the next couple of days to keep the swelling down.

I'll be honest, I was actually starting to get a little scared at this point.  Not about the pain, but everyone kept treating me like this was so serious, and that cancer was a likely possibility, but not to worry about yet.
This is me, my life, my world may or may not be changing soon.  I had a few moments, where I was not okay with it.
But I'd pray, and I honestly felt comfortable with it after, and I decided to just believe I was going to be okay, because I didn't feel like I thought it would feel if I was about to be told I had cancer.

So ya, the pain was horrible that first night.  Sleeping was painful.
They told me to take ibuprofen or Tylenol for the pain.  Which I did, but since my mom offered something a little stronger so I could get some sleep that night, I took it:)  Ya, ya, I know it's not good to share drugs, but I knew I wasn't allergic so it was fine!
The next day, was painful.  The bruising started, and the area's where the needles were, were a bit red.  I wore a scarf to cover it and ya I went to work.
Don't ask me why, I should have called in... But I am an idiot and I was under the assumption no one would know....

Wrong!  Since I felt more pain than when I had whiplash from car accidents, and for some reason my neck just would't turn.  I looked awkward.  So that was when others asked, and I just decided to tell them what happened.  But I lied, I told them I had the results and everything was fine.
I didn't want anyone looking at me with pitty or anything especially since I didn't need their pitty, I felt like I was in pain, but going to be fine.

Thankfully I have a great sister and dad, who did all the heavy lifting and packing for the wedding.  I just saved all the ironing and stuff that I needed to do until Thurs/Fri... I hated leaving that much work to be done that close to a big wedding, but I had no choice.
I went on with my week, painful, but less and less pain each day.

LAST THURSDAY
I got the call about 5pm that day.  The results for both my biopsy and then the blood work they send it had also come back.
My doctor called me personally, with the best news ever.  First thing he said, "Great news, you do NOT have cancer."
He also said that my blood work came back and showed me as perfectly healthy, I don't even have a thyroid problem.
Which is odd, because of the large cysts....  In short I do still have to go see a specialist about the cyst, but I do not have cancer, and I do not have any current health problems that I need to worry about right now.
It was such a relief!  It wasn't until that moment that I realized deep down I really had been a little worried about the results.  A huge weight lifted at that moment!
I tried to call my family, but none were answering their phones, they were all helping my sister move into a new house.  So I sent a mass text to everyone so they could get the good news when they get to their phones, and I went to work!

TODAY
So I still have swelling on my neck, I can feel the lump on my throat.  I still can't put much pressure on my throat, it's still sore from the biopsy.
I will visit a doctor in a few weeks so they can figure out what to do about that part.
Why have I been so tired?  Well we are guessing it was related to being so sick weeks before and maybe some carry over, and my Epstein Barr contributing toward it.

Between the upper respiratory illness, and then the possible cancer scare, then the sore neck with the biopsy, I seriously hadn't run or worked out in a month have been getting so out of shape!

On Saturday I had a huge wedding, it was raining the entire time, so it was even more work.  Not to mention the place they had it, gave us 2 flights of stairs to carry everything up.  Ughhhh...
I left the heavier stuff for my crew to do, I for once took it a tad easier.  In other words, I only took 18,000 steps that day:)
Your neck muscles are very much connected to your arms as you lift and I just wasn't up for too much.  I even gave up one of my favorite things, tying chair sashes... that day:) The wedding turned out beautiful, I may show picture's Wednesday if I have time to put them together.

I went running this morning (Yay)  I am so out of shape!  I was coughing up junk (I know TMI.. sorry:), which oddly I think was still just my lungs getting rid of the last effects of that respiratory cold!
But even though I only ran 1 mile, and then ran walked the other 4... Okay, so mostly walked the other 4:)  I loved it.
Looks like in my time away, they even turned on the water that goes through the canals, and all the ducks had their little yellow puffballs of babies swimming with them.  (Ya I enjoyed getting out!)

     So yes, sorry for the novel.  Like I said above, I wrote this more for me to sort of keep as a memory sake of my scary ordeal.
I am more than thrilled that I am okay.  I thought about others who don't get that "your okay" message.  In fact 2 of my biggest 50 state marathon supporters passed away from cancer while I have been off my 2 years of getting over the tendon injury.  My aunt and a childhood friend.  My aunt wanted to see me finish my goal, but now she gets to watch from heaven:)
Going through the past 2 weeks was a scary thing, I can't and am fortunate I don't have to deal with any further nightmares that it could have been.
I handle stressful situations really well, better than most.  But even though I wasn't freaking out more, I am still very relieved and it opened my eyes a little!
I did a lot of thinking the past two weeks, and although I am fine.  I feel like I have a different outlook now.  It's made me want to re-think what I am doing, how I am doing it, why I am doing what I am doing etc...  I feel like now is the best time ever to make some major changes, and live life even fuller!

Anyhow, I will shut up in a second!
I really do apologize for the long post, but won't feel offended in the least of no one reads the entire thing:)
I just wanted to share my story for myself and any of you who may be interested on what I have been going through.

Hope everyone had a great past week!  We had almost non stop rain, and I kind of liked it:)  Well until the day of the wedding, but what ya gonna do:)

41 comments :

  1. I love reading your posts, very nice. Thank You for Follow Back.
    http://ekodb.blogspot.com

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  2. oh wow that is quite a story and yes I read it! I am so glad that you are ok and rest up you will get your strength back sooner. Sending good thoughts your way!

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  3. Oh my gosh, that is absolutely terrifying! I'm so glad that it's not cancer, and I'm very impressed you looked at the goo. I couldn't do it.

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  4. OMG, so glad you are ok! I can imagine how scary that was for you. So glad it isn't cancer!! Keep your chin up!!

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  5. I can't believe how well you kept yourself together. It's so scary to think of the big C and I know I would've lost it at any of those point.

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  6. You are such a strong woman! This had to be terrifying, but then such an absolute relief to receive the "it's not cancer" diagnosis. Amen to living life even fuller. Also, I read EVERY word. Thanks for such an honest and informative post.

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    1. Thanks, ya it was an incredible relief, I was sure I was fine but hearing it made me realize how much I was a little unsure inside.

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  7. Kudos to you for how you've handles everything. Sorry to hear the diagnosis, but I'm glad that it isn't cancer! Continue holding your head high!

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  8. OH MY GOSH LADY!!! I am so sorry you have been going through all this. SO THANKFUL everything turned out NOT to be cancer. I was holding my breath reading it all... so scary to go through anything like this. & you ARE tough. They say if you can relax in most procedures its so much easier but yeah... how is that possible? But you did it! High fiving you!!! ... you take your time getting back 'in gear'... you've been through a lot & need time to ease back in! Thanks for sharing your experience... life - what a weird ride.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! It was hard to relax during it, but I did my best and apparently pretty well, even the Dr and nurse were surprised:) Life really is a weird ride!

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  9. Kristy, so sorry you had to go through this!! I'm so relieved for you that it isn't cancer. Praying for you that your throat heals and the cysts fully go away. Big hugs!!!

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  10. I am so glad you kept me in the loop as to what was going on. I know how worried you were and I was too! What a relief that everything will be okay!

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  11. Oh, how terrifying. I am so glad that everything is going to be ok, but that is such a burden to have to carry. Rest, and stay well. Thinking of you.

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  12. Kristy, thank you for sharing such a private matter with all of us, I did pick up that weren't yourself through some of your posts, and I'm am so very glad that you are okay! You are tough in so many ways! Like you said, that doctor only saw a glimpse of your toughness, little does he know! :) Your strength in how you handle everything from injuries to something as huge as this was, will never cease to amaze me. I hope your throat continues to heal well and I hope you're able to feel more energized soon. Between being sick and this, you deserve all the rest you can get! <3

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    1. Thanks Hailey! Ya I tried to keep up the happy blogging, but I figured some like you who follow me would likely pick up on it, which was the main reason I decided to share my experience.
      You're words are so sweet and kind, thank you!

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  13. Scary! I am so glad you are ok. No one wants to hear the "C" word. It is a lot to deal with. I am thinking of you, lease rest up, slow and easy :)

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  14. So very impressed with how you handled this adverse situation. It is amazing how strong a human being can be when there is need. However, not everyone can stay calm during biopsies and tell their nurse from which vein to draw their blood. You are a champ Kristy! So glad everything is okay.

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    1. Thanks! But you're right, sometimes it takes something for each of us to realize how strong we can be:)

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  15. I read this with a lump in my throat. Kristy, I am SO SO happy everything turned out okay. You handled this incredibly well. Hugs my friend and wishes for continued health!!

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  16. I am so glad to hear it wasn't cancer!! What an incredibly scary experience - I'm happy everything turned out okay but can't imagine the stress you must have been under these past few weeks. You showed such incredible strength and spirit throughout the ordeal and I hope your recovery continues to go well!

    And nonsense about people not wanting to read the whole post - I couldn't stop reading once I started :)

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  17. Wow! So sorry to hear that you had to go through this scary experience! I'm so glad that you are ok. You are one tough lady!

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  18. Oh Kristy, wow!! You ARE one tough chick. I'm so glad it's not cancer. I'll keep you in my prayers! ♥

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  19. My goodness, I'm so sorry for all that you've been through lately--I had no idea! I'm super glad that it wasn't cancer, and you are seriously tough! My last rotation was in surgery, and I actually did one of the excisions of a neck mass in one of my preceptor's patients

    I breathed such a huge sigh of relief when I got to the latter end of your post. <3 It's awesome that you stayed so calm during the biopsy (people definitely usually freak out a lot more--I'm gonna try to suggest your approach to future patients!) Hope you recover quickly + soon!

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    1. Thanks, me too!!!
      Oh, ya the relax and stay calm approach really worked, my bruising on my neck wasn't anywhere near as bad as some of the pictures I saw online, I really think that totally helped!

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  20. What a horrible scare! I'm so sorry you had to go through that but I'm glad that it didn't end up being serious. Good luck with the upcoming appointments and figuring out why it was happening.

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  21. You are so brave! What a scary thing to experience. There's no way I could have been that relaxed during a biopsy. I hope you get answers soon and am inspired by your positive outlook. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  22. I'm so sorry to hear about all of the things you've been dealing with lately but happy to hear everything is okay. I'm glad that you are starting to feel a little more like yourself and getting back to your workouts. And good for you for taking it easier at work and ONLY taking 18,000 steps! Take it easy and let those around you help you out! :)

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    1. Thanks! LOL actually 18,000 steps was me taking it easy that day, I am pretty sure everyone on my crew took near double that, that day:) They are awesome!

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